A Photographer Explains How To Take National Geographic Level Pics

Laurence Norah

There’s something inherently attractive about someone who ditches the nine-to-five and sets out on a life of adventure. It’s why we’re so interested in wanderers living the van life and people who spend all of their time on the road traveling from one exotic locale to another. At Uproxx, we call them the Mad Ones — a group of who aren’t wrapped tightly in the constraints of an average life.

In 2010, Laurence Norah joined the ranks of the Mad Ones when he left his job and began traveling and taking pictures. In the intervening years, he’s grown and distinguished himself in the field, contributing to publications like Nat Geo and being voted among the top 10 travel photographers by USA Today in 2014. He also won the Bloggy for best photography on a blog in 2015. In short: The man can take an amazing photograph.

In addition to telling the story of locations around the world with awe-inspiring imagery, Norah is also an incredibly nice person — happy to give us pointers to use in our own forays into the world of photography. When we spoke with him, he talked gear, composition, and planning. But, we started by talking about his transition out of the corporate world and into that attractive liminal space between sheer adventure and the daily grind.

Laurence Norah

You made the shift from a corporate career to photography, correct?

That is correct. I worked in software development and management consultancy for eight years. I had been working for a long time in a corporate career. I was getting to the point where I really had to decide if climbing the corporate ladder was something I wanted to do or if I wanted to do something else, and I was just about to turn 30. I felt like it wasn’t what I wanted to be doing in my life. I always liked writing. I have been passionate about photography since I was about 13 when my parents gave me my first camera, which was a very nice Canon digital SLR. I just thought, “I’m going to go and travel instead and see if I can come up with a better way of making a living that satisfies my creative side.”

That’s so amazing. There’s a huge shift between “I work in IT.” And “I’m taking a 60,000-kilometer trip through Australia.”

I was really inspired by my dad. When he was growing up he moved to Australia and he spent two years driving around in a Land Rover and doing odd jobs on farms.

He always told me the cool stories, and I thought “I want to do something like that.” I rang up my parents and was like, “So, you supported me in all my decisions so far. I’m about to give up my job and go travel through Australia for a year. What do you think about that?” They were like, “Oh, shit. Go for it. If you’re not happy doing what you’re doing, go and do that instead.”

I’ve been really lucky that I’ve had a very supportive family. They want me to be happy rather than chasing some kind of ideal that isn’t making me happy. They’re very supportive still today, although I think they’re a little bit happier now that I’m actually making a living again.

Laurence Norah


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