Where do I Want to Adventure to Next?
Meet Photographer Luke Gottlieb
Luke Gottlieb, the photographer behind Victor of Valencia on Instagram has been one of my very favorite photographers for a very long time. I dream of the day when I have the photographer skills and editing skills he has so brilliantly mastered. I wanted to learn more, so I made my way out to Colorado to learn Luke's backstory and life advice.
"Adventure is one of those things that keeps life interesting and completely fresh with experiences. It’s certainly the driving force behind most of my passions in life. It’s something I think about every morning I wake up too; where do I want to adventure to next?"
Why do you explore? To me, exploration allows the unexpected to come to the surface of our lives. Without exploration, we never learn or see anything new. I also have this constant feeling of wanting to know what exists around the corner. As a child, it seems your whole existence is all about exploring and being curious. I think that we cary some of that same drive throughout our lives as we get older.
Why take risks in life? Without risks, growth is absent. To me, evolving as a human being and having a better understanding of the world can’t happen unless you take risks or unless you really step out of your comfort zone.
Where are you from? I grew up in a small mountain town in Colorado called Carbondale. It’s an outdoor hub surrounded by old ranch lands, rivers, forests and mountains. It’s one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen.
What is your 9-5? I was never one to resonate very well with a 9-5 job. I’ve worked for myself the last 3 years and I can say it’s the best fit for me right now. I’m a full-time photographer. It’s amazing, but certainly has the challenges that comes with it. I often can’t remember what day it is, but maybe that is the point of it all… to just live life and experience every day as a new and exciting adventure.
When you were growing up what or who did you want to be? My dad was a musician and my mom was a music lover as well. I think when I picked up the guitar at the age of 12 I fantasized about being a rock star… as a lot of teenage boys do. I still play music, it’s in my blood and will be till the day I die. I record and do the occasional tour with my band. I don’t think I ever really had a firm grasp on what I wanted to really be in life, but I think that I have found my lane as a portrait and lifestyle photographer.
Favorite place you've visited? There have been a lot of profound experiences in my life. Traveling has always been a part of them. I think that my experience in Israel was amazing. It had a lot of impact on me. The history is stark and complex, but the culture and people are beautiful.
Place you most desperately want to visit? I have always wanted to post up in a bungalow on the beach in a place like Fiji or Tahiti. I have had a fascination with surf/island culture since I was really young. So much of my family is from southern California, so the ocean has always captured my heart and soul in a lot of ways.
What is the single greatest moment of human humanity you've experienced while traveling? I’m going to circle back to my experience in Israel and say that it’s the greatest moment of humanity has been seeing and feeling the resiliency of that place. It’s a powerful area, with religion, history and humanity all wrapped up into a complex web. Germany was another really powerful experience. Seeing the concentration camps in person floored me. It’s wild thinking about the past while standing on the very ground it all those terrible events took place.
What has changed about you because of your travels? For me, traveling has expanded my view of the world. From that I feel I have become much more humble and modest. Maybe sometimes to a fault, but there are just so many amazing people and places in this world that it has forced me to be much more selfless and inspired as well.
Who is the most dynamic and thought provoking person you've ever met? I think a lot about this actually, who has been the most thought provoking person I have encountered. My dad would definitely be that person. We have had challenging and deep conversations my whole life and he certainly has encouraged me to think of the world in various different ways.
If you could travel with one person in history or in present who would it be and why? I think I would have to say Edward Abbey. To some, he was an extremist in his views of the environment, but his passion for it and his love for nature is something I have resonated with throughout my life. His heart is in the southwestern desert as much of mine is as well. He is a deep thinker and adventurer and to see the world with him would be incredibly fascinating.
What are your must haves for travel? Pack lite, don’t plan too much and say YES. I have been more of a YES person as I have gotten older and what not a better time to say YES then being far away from home.
Give us a travel tip: In college, I did my senior internship in the Bahamas. I was part of a research team traveling around the islands and documenting the state of coral bleaching that was taking over the vast reefs surrounding the islands. It was pretty eye opening swimming around with the sea life and seeing the extent in which the reefs were dying. In the grand scheme of things it is a small and tiny area, but it was a direct way to become more aware to the state of our planet.
What would you say to someone who has never travelled before?
I think that if we could learn more about each other and be open to new ways of looking at the world it would allow us all to improve as humans. There is just so much diversity on this planet both in body and mind to think selfishly.
I would definitely not preach to them that traveling is necessary, but I would encourage them to reach outside of their comfort zone. To me, that is the largest hurdle for someone who has never traveled. Things come easy here (your native country), it is what we know best, but, to insert yourself into a country where your native language isn’t spoken as the first language is awesome. It makes you very self aware.
What is the single greatest lesson you've learned from someone that is different than you? This goes back to the diversity answer, but I think it has taught me more about being a humble human being. When you really focus on the idea that everyone experiences this life in their own individual way it makes you more self aware and accepting of others.
When did you feel you were most out of your comfort zone. What did you learn from that lesson? I can't think of a particular moment where I felt super out of my comfort zone. I feel that traveling in general always has moments where you feel that. It's easy to feel overwhelmed or unsure of how to do something when you are in those situations. I think a lot of people can relate to that. I typically just take a step back and know that I will be ok and that I can figure it out. It goes back to our primal problem solving skills. You just kind of get through it! That is the biggest lesson, to trust you will be ok and that being uncomfortable is quite normal for a lot of people. You just have to take some breaths.
What would you say to your former self? I would probably tell myself to take the money I would spend on meaningless things and put it towards International plane tickets.
What gives you hope? Meeting genuinely nice people who care about others and our planet gives me the most hope. Seeing people really connected with their place, wether that is culture or environment is a beautiful thing and makes me feel encouraged that that will be passed on to the younger generations to come. To all the people dedicating their lives to sustainable farming, you may give me the most hope.
Where to next? As I have gotten older I have an ever increasing itch to see more of the world. I’m a sucker for cinema and connecting to storytelling. I want to see all these places that just have existed on paper or on the big screen. This fascination I have with period pieces and historical storytelling makes me want to be inserted into the places they exist.
Is flannel always in season? I grew up in the mountains, so flannel will forever be a staple piece in my closet and truck. I probably wear flannel every 5 out of 7 days. It’s the best!