At least once in our lives we’ve probably all dreamt of traveling somewhere far away and falling in love with a foreign stranger, as if everything we’d done until that point was leading up to the moment that we finally meet. We see it in movies and hear about it in songs. When we’re single, or maybe just feeling unsatisfied with our current circumstances, it’s natural to think that maybe the person we’re meant to form a life with just happens to live on the polar opposite side of the world and that’s why we haven’t met yet. Most of us just brush it off, assuming it’s too good to be true. But think for a moment: what if it really did happen?
This miraculous scenario is not limited to movies and love songs, it is actually happening all the time, and one such example is the incredibly talented pair behind Wild Times Photography. Travel photographer Ryan Smith of Australia and fashion photographer Anne Köhler from The Netherlands met during Ryan’s year of globe hopping. Their meeting was relatively unplanned and quite brief, and yet it changed both of their lives in an instant. Less than a year later, Ryan has returned home to the Gold Coast, and Anne has moved literally to the other side of the planet to start a new life with him. Upon her relocation, the two launched their most recent creative endeavor as a photography team, traveling and shooting together every chance they get. I could go on and on about how inspiring their photos are, or how wonderfully suited they are for each other, but I think their work speaks for itself, and whatever questions it may leave you with they very kindly answered for us.
LF: Okay, so I have to ask, how did you two meet? Was it a “love at first sight” scenario or was it something that grew gradually over time?
WT: Well, I guess it was. We became aware of each others’ existence a long time ago via social media channels, but rarely exchanged a word until the beginning of Ryan’s travels when he had a 2 day stop over in Amsterdam en route to Norway. We had great touristy days in rainy Amsterdam and something clicked right away. There was an undeniable buzz. We talked and talked some more and before we knew it were meeting in the mountains of Canada. Fast forward a few months and here we are…
LF: Anne, you recently moved from Amsterdam and relocated to Gold Coast, Australia. Of course it must feel wonderful to have Ryan finally by your side full-time, but how has the transition been? Have you tried Vegemite yet?
AK: I know, it’s so good to be finally side by side all the time. Even though I’m as far away from home as possible, Ryan makes me real happy and that makes it all a lot easier. I still haven’t tried vegemite…should I be ashamed? I actually really love the heat and the amount of sunshine here. It makes me want to eat acai bowls or get fresh juices everyday. So many people around here that try to catch up, do fun stuff and make me feel welcome. I’ve been shooting a lot of models and in the weekends we try to do little road trips, which keeps me busy! Let’s see what the future brings, but for now Australia’s treating me well.
LF: Mountain ranges or coastlines? Hot weather or cold?
WT: That’s tough. In an ideal world we would live right in between mountains and the beach. I guess you could say it’s seasonal. We both love hiking and the views mountains have to offer but also it’s hard to stray from coastlines when you can lay there and watch a sunset from the water.
LF: Ryan, you spent 13 months photographing your way across the world. What are a few of your favorite places, and what makes them so special?
RS: It’s hard to narrow it down, but I’m going to have to go with Iceland and Tonga as 2 stand outs. The landscapes in Iceland are so unique and really unlike anything else I’ve ever witnessed. Giant cascading waterfalls, black sand beaches with giant ice cubes scattered across it, the northern lights, where does it end. I can’t really put it into words. Tonga because the purpose of my trip there was to swim with whales and document all I saw. To see a whale for the first time in the water swimming right at you was insane. It’s like a truck driving toward you underwater.
LF: You’ve both spent quite a bit of time away from your points of origin. What does the concept of “home” mean to you?
RS: Home to me is honestly a comfortable bed and a home cooked meal. I think I could be anywhere in the world and if I were offered a place to sleep and given a meal that wasn’t take out I’d feel all those familiar comforts that come with being at ‘home’.
AK: Of course I would call where I am now, living with Ryan, home. But as I’m really close to my family, my home in the Netherlands will always be my true home. It doesn’t matter how long I’m gone for or how far away I am. Rainy days, my purring cat, tea with my mum and having the best family meals is home to me. Writing this makes me actually miss it…
LF: Between portraiture and landscape, which would you rather shoot and why?
WT: I think this answer might be a bit different for us both, as Anne has a portrait and fashion background as she studied Lifestyle & Design at the art academy. Ryan is a patient and technical photographer who loves to try out different cameras and film, which is great for travel and landscape photography. This why we work so well as a team and learn from each other everyday, from waiting for the right light till the editing of the photos. We feel like Wild Times should be a good mix of both.
LF: What is the best thing about traveling together?
WT: There’s no better feeling than achieving something wild with your best friend. Even the bad parts of travels don’t feel so bad. At least if we miss a flight or drive our car off the road or fall down an icy hill trying to hike to the top we have each other to fall back on and to keep each others’ chin up.
LF: If you could only take one camera to take with you on a trip, which one would you choose?
WT: This is tough because we love both film and digital images. The convenience and practicality of digital makes it the go-to choice, but the sentimental and honest aspect of film makes us always want to carry one or two on our travels. But if we had to take just one it would probably be the Canon 5d mkii as it is most familiar to us both.
LF: What are the 3 locations at the top of your list to visit next?
WT: First and foremost, New Zealand! We are actually going to New Zealand very soon and we can’t wait. We will lap the South Island camping and hiking and shooting all we can, as well as a brief loop of the North Island (mainly so Anne can FINALLY visit the Hobbiton set; a long time dream of hers).
Second would be Peru and the surrounding area. The mountains and scenery there like nothing short of amazing and we feel it’s somewhere that has not yet been TOO exposed and overdone.
Third would be a return to Canada to explore a whole bunch of places we didn’t get the chance to venture to. The Banff/Canmore area alone had so much we didn’t have time to check out, let alone everything else in the country. I think we could spend months there hiking, camping and exploring.
LF: Current goals for your future together?
WT: Really to just experience all we can and stay as happy as we are. We’re happy to be here by the beach on the Gold Coast of Australia for the time being, but who knows what the near future will bring. We haven’t really cemented ourselves here because we know that there is a lot more of this world to see and do before we truly settle somewhere.
LF: Any advice for someone looking to leave home and see the world?
WT: Work for the reward. Lately we’ve been seeing a lot of people who are in very fortunate positions telling people ‘just quit your job and live your dream,’ which is great if someone else is footing your travel expenses, but in reality you just need to set a goal and understand that it takes hard work to achieve these things. If you’re truly passionate about an idea or traveling, there is almost always a way to make it happen.
LF: How fast do you live?
WT: Live fast, but don’t die young. Slow down, but never, ever stop. – Paint It Black