A few months ago, I sat down in my kitchen nook, wrapped in a Delta blanket, and chatted with my sweet friend Catherine Guidry for an interview for her new podcast! She is an amazing photographer and friend of mine for over a decade. I was so honored to support her in her new venture, and we had such a blast recording this. Below is a bit of our interview. I share everything from the biggest mistakes I have made while traveling, how I came to start COH°, what life is really like on the go, and, why snail mail really sprinkles my donuts! Listen to the entire interview here!
kb: Yes, of course. COH° was a dream I had a long time ago. Every since I was five years old, and I saw a map for the first time, I was ENTHRALLED with this idea that there were other cultures and places out there (Read More Here). And, I just had to go and see everything. Secondly, I’ve always been a documenter. I have boxes and boxes of photographs, and little napkins or matchbooks and of where I’ve eaten and all these little trinkets I’ve kept along the way. If anyone came to rob my house they would be like, “why does she keep these matches?!”
cg: “They would be like this is so useless!”
kb: Yeah... They’re like “Ummm…next house!” But, to me these items mean the world. I’ve always kept journals too. So, when technology advanced and there was a way to put all of these passions online that’s what Coordinates of Her° became... a platform where I could share my stories, photos, and journal entries to give people tips and tricks and hopefully inspire people to go out and travel. (Read More about why I started COH° here).
cg: It has inspired people, it’s inspired me! You were the first person I reached out to when we were traveling to Europe.
cg: And, I’m speaking for you, but really to share your travels and share the world with other people seems to be very important to you.
kb: Yes, that is very important to me. There are 1 billion people living below the poverty line and you can’t talk about your travels in the world and leave out 1/7th of the world. It doesn’t work like that. Plus, my first trip out of the country was a humanitarian trip was when I was 14 so that’s engrained in me and will always sort of be with me I think.
cg: Where was that to?
cg: What do you feel like about that trip inspired you so much?
kb: For me, I had dreamed of traveling for so long so I can’t even describe what it was like to be 14, on a plane, and landing in Guatemala City. I just remember that feeling... that feeling of just... I can’t even put it into words, but it was the most alive I ever felt.
cg: What are some of the things you’ve learned throughout your travels in terms of photography. I’m sure it’s not like the US, or maybe it is, can you talk about that?
kb: I don’t find a huge difference between shooting in the US and other countries other than just being respectful of the different cultures. In general, people don’t really like to be photographed. So, I try to be respectful. But, there are times where you just have to go for the shot. I live by that motto: 'ask forgiveness not permission.'
cg: Yeah, I was talking to a friend and he mentioned that when you are in different cultures you don’t want to carry around a huge camera and stand out. Do you use a big camera? What kind of camera do you use? Do you use your iPhone?
kb: Most of the photos from the website probably aren’t from an iPhone. But, most of the instagram feed is iPhone shots. It’s easier to get things as they are happening and on the go with my phone. I have a Sony A600 that’s a little smaller and easier to carry around cities. I don’t want to carry heavy equipment like a DSLR camera for miles and miles. And, honestly, I think I get the best shots when I am blending in because people aren’t noticing what I am doing. So, I usually opt for smaller equipment like an iPhone or my beloved Sony.
kb: I try very hard to do that. I am always working and I am always shooting, but I try not to let it take away from the overall experience as much as possible. And, there are times where I just put my camera down, and log the moment away for my own memory.
cg: That is something I absolutely agree with and something Brad fusses at me all the time for.
kb: haha! I get fussed at too.
cg: I remember we were at a horse race, and I just wanted to get the photo, and he was said: 'Are you even enjoying being here?' I responded: 'Yes! I really like taking pictures.' But, reflecting back, I wonder if you can remember a place as vividly if you are looking at it though the camera?
kb: It’s a give and take. When you take a trip and you aren’t processing everything that is happening as it’s happening, because so much is going on. So, afterwards when you are looking at the photos its like: 'Ohhh! I forgot about that!' So, there is a plus side to always shooting. But, the moments where I put my camera down, and I really just absorbed what’s happening... those are the moments that become more intimate. I haven’t shared them with anyone or anything. I didn’t put it though the lens of any sort of equipment, it’s now only held in my memories.
Sometimes this is by choice, and sometimes you are forced into that situation. For example, my camera bricked while trying to shoot the northern lights which is like every photographer’s dream to shoot, and your camera bricking, meaning it won't turn on at all, is every photographer's nightmare.
cg: Uggghhh! Oh no!
kb: Yep! I kept saying: 'I can’t believe this is happening!' I was freaking out, and finally I just realized that because I was in the middle of no where in Iceland, there was no solution. This moment is why I now always travel with a backup camera now. But, anyway, I realized that I needed to stop fussing with the camera, and I just watch the Northern lights. I never shared about it or anything. Now that life changing moment of watching the night sky is just mine, you know?
It was very important lesson. Because if our house burnt down and I lost all my files, it’s really just the memories that I would have. That’s something nothing and no one could ever take from me.
kb: I am always a couple of days late. When I'm on the go all day for 10 hours, and I get back to my hotel, social media is the last thing on my mind. A bath is the first thing on my mind… and maybe some wine. You know?
So yeah, I just try to be in the moment, because when you switch over to that whole over animal of editing and laying out your feed… it’s a huge undertaking. Maybe people have figured out how to do all of that and still be present, but I just haven’t figured it out. It’s not a healthy place for me.
cg: I think it’s important to figure out what works for you. What’s worked for me when I’m traveling, I try to go in with a plan… which is true to my personality because i’m a planner.
kb: Yeaaahhh... I’m not a planner. That system would never work for me, because it would first require a plan. And, that goes against everything I believe in in life.
kb: It can be. I choose to sort of keep it separate. I enjoy sharing on it, but it’s certainly not may main form of communication with the people that matter the most to me. Social media is great, but I don't live a digital life, and I am not going to change how I have connected and communicated with people my whole life just because someone created social media. For example, you launched the podcast and I didn’t comment on the photo, but I called you and sent you a card.
cg: Yeah! which actually meant more to me!
kb: Yeah, and you sent me a card for this as well. So, I see things happening on social media, and I get that is this whole new way to communicate with people. But at the end of the day, it just doesn’t sprinkle my donuts, Cat.
cg: I’m guilty of forgetting that social media is a great tool for keeping up with people but it’s not the only tool… there’s still the telephone, and snail mail.
kb: Snail mail!! I’m trying to bring snail mail back! The post office is like my favorite place. This goes back to loving journaling and keeping little things… because how in the world do you keep a happy birthday Facebook message? I have boxes of little cards that people have given me over the years. The card you gave me with this whole situation… that’s going in a memory box, it’s something special and tangible that I will always have to reflect on later.
cg: I feel like when I’m really busy with work and I’m on the go, it’s sometimes hard to maintain those relationships. What is that like for you?
kb: That’s a really great question. I wrote about it once actually (here). It can be really taxing on friendships and relationships with family, because I am in and out of wifi. I don’t have cell service, and at times, I am in countries with little to no internet at all. Or, I am ahead of time or behind time so I am a few days late on birthday wishes.
Of course, just being away you miss things. So, I try to make the effort to be present in my girlfriends lives and to make it there when it really counts. I fly in no matter where I am for weddings and things like that.
And, I’m so lucky to have such an amazing group of people who are so gracious with me. I have such a great network of people who believed in me in a time where I don’t even think I believed in myself and they pushed me and challenged me. So, it can be tough to stay on top of relationships, but I make a conscious effort. And, amazon is great!
cg: Amazon is amazing!
kb: Yes! From anywhere in the world you can send something in two days!
cg: Have you ever had anything go wrong with that? You’re in a different country… it’s not like you can just run to the store…
kb: Okay! Full discloser! I’m not really great at keeping track of all my things. One time I was in the airport and was like 'I’m going to be on top of my game, and I’m going to charge my gear.' In my head, I was thinking: 'I am so organized.' I was so proud of myself. So, I set up all of my batteries on the plug in the corner. An hour later, I get on the plane and I’m halfway to a different country when I realize: 'OMG! I just left everything in the airport!
cg: ohhhhh nooo
kb: So, yeah... I’m definitely a bit scattered brained and I’ve made many mistakes in that regard!
cg: That’s the worst!
kb: YEP! And, I was flying to this small place that didn’t have many options. I had to buy this $100 battery charger because the only thing they had was this battery charger that charges every single battery that’s ever been made.
cg: hahaha! Well hey! Maybe that was a good investment because that sounds like a pretty mad piece of gear!
kb: I don't know. I’m still pretty upset about it. It might be soon to talk about it still. hahaha I am just a hot mess express in most of my life (insert face palm)!
cg: So, are you traveling alone most of the time? Is there someone there to enjoy these moments of kristi bailey?
kb: ohhhhh don’t worry! people are fully entertained. It’s actually my girlfriend who gave me the term 'hot mess express.' I wrote about that at well (here). She was in first class one time when I stumbled on still holding my shoes in my hand because I was racing to the flight Anyway, yes,. I do travel by myself, but a lot of times it’s more fun to travel with people. I mean how awful is it to be somewhere and your having this moment and you turn to the side to say: 'Are you seeing this too?!' And, you realize, 'ohhhh... we don’t speak the same language.'
kb: My first advice would be: be in a good rewards program, because that really makes a difference. You get points with credit cards which is great. For example, we only fly Delta because it’s though our American Express. Plus, Delta is partnered with Airbnb which I have written about a lot. Anyway, as you get points, you get upgraded and when you fly internationally you get into the lounges. And girl, that makes a difference.
cg: I’ve heard that!
kb: It really does. I didn’t want to believe that I needed that type of luxury, but if you are traveling and you have a 14 hour layover and then you have another 10 hour flight… you want to shower. Not just for yourself but for everyone around you.
cg: Oh yeah, girl!
kb: The second and the biggest thing: decide the things in your life you're willing to sacrifice. For me, there are things in my life that I sacrifice to travel. For example, we have one car, we’ve had it for 10 years, we don’t have a car note. we make those sacrifices in things like that to save money. And, when you start to do that, what will happen is your mindset changes.
For instance, recently I had to invest in these noise canceling headphones because they are doing construction next door. I desperately needed a pair for work. All I could think in the store was: “This is a plane ticket. I don’t know if I can do this.” So, at least for me, I started to adjust how I spent financially because over the years, I had changed my priorities. And, traveling has and always will be my main priority
cg: That is such great advice and it’s true it's very easy to see someone like you do doing such wonderful things, traveling, I think that’s a dream for a lot of people but those great rewards don’t come without sacrifice.
Listen to the entire interview here!