I’m honoured to have travel writer, photographer and blogger extraordinaire – and loud, proud West Aussie – Jill Harrison as my twelfth RED Alert guest! Jill’s blog, Life Images by Jill is required reading for her wonderful Aussie travel adventures, amazing photos – food, flowers AND travel – along with her generous share of some of her secrets to success in these fields.
Embarrassingly, I’ve broken most of the rules for success with a LONG hiatus from blogging; a change of name and site; and a fail in the ‘visiting other blogs’ department. Even more embarrassing is the amount of time it’s taken to publish this interview – complete with Jill’s AMAZING photos! So to make the long wait worthwhile, I’ve included links to Jill’s posts because I know you’ll want to read more!
But for now, just sit back, relax and see RED!
RED: Welcome to RED Alert, Jill! What’s your favourite colour?
JILL: It must be RED! I even have a RED car! Ever since I have been able to choose what car to buy I have bought a red car! I really like blue – blue sky, blue oceans, blue wildflowers, but I really don’t have much in the way of blue clothes.
RED: Well, for that you get the BLUE name! You’re already an established travel writer and photographer – what made you start blogging?
JILL: I started blogging as a way to showcase and promote my work, to show that I was a serious writer/photographer, to give would-be editors/buyers somewhere to see my work, and to have a permanent record of my work. Looking back over my blog from when I started in July 2008 till now, it has changed a lot. I am a lot more confident and freer with what I publish on my blog now. I think I should go back and update some of my old posts!
RED: Don’t go changing! You’ll lose the that permanent record! What are your top 5 blogging tips?
Have quality work that people will want to read or see:
Edit and re-edit your work
Have quality images to illustrate your writing.
Read and comment on other people’s blogs. Looking at other blogs, and getting a readership going helps, as you begin to know what people are interested in reading and seeing on your blog, and you get more confident as your readership increases. Link-up parties are also a good source for collecting more readers.
RED: HHHMMMmmm… looks like I’ve got a LOT of catching up to do! Apart from RedzAustralia, which blogs are required reading for you?
In no particular order:
Lisa at Red Willow Photography
Liz at The Red Bistro
Jan at Budget Travel Talk
RED: I look forward to catching up with all of those now my blog’s back on track! What was the highlight of visiting the Australian War Memorial in Canberra?
JILL: Placing poppies next to the names of my great-uncle who died within the first few days of the Gallipoli campaign, and my husband’s uncle who died in a prisoner of war camp in Burma in World War 2. You should allow at least a whole day to visit, there is so much to see.
RED: What’s been your most emotional travel experience?
JILL: My son likes to tell people that I cried when we left the Thorny Bush Game Reserve in South Africa. We had a truly amazing wonderful experience and really got to know the guides and staff well as it was a small camp and for a couple of nights we were the only guests. I wanted to stay longer.
RED: And in Australia?
JILL: You get an wonderful spiritual feeling at Cathedral Gorge in Purnululu, especially if you arrive early before the crowds of tourists. It feels like a holy place, a place to talk in quiet whispers, or not to talk at all, to just sit and absorb and be at peace.
RED: I’m yet to see Purnululu (aka the Bungle Bungles), but I’ve had a similar feeling at Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary. How do you bridge the gap between landscape and food photography?
JILL: Landscape photography is something I do mostly when we travel. I am looking for images to not only record our trip, but also to help sell a travel story to a magazine. Food photography is something I am practising/learning in the hopes of it becoming my full time work. With food photography you can to some extent control the elements – the setting out, the lighting etc. Whereas landscape photography you have no control over. So two completely different types of photography, but each with it’s challenges. I love capturing the light whether it be in a landscape or food – the light is so important.
What are your best tips for wildflower photography?
JILL: Wildflowers are elusive and so more exciting when you find them, especially if it is a variety you have never seen before. We are so lucky in Western Australia particularly to have so many thousands of wildflowers. You have to know where to look, as weather conditions play a big part in what is flowering where, so research is important. Stop the car and walk through the bush. What might appear barren at first glance can hold a treasure of wildflowers. A macro lens or a close-up filter, and using Aperture priority will help get a good photo, and clouds act as a great natural diffuser. A good wildflower guide is invaluable for identifying wildflowers. It annoys me when I see “wildflower” as the caption in a magazine.
RED: Note to self – STOP doing that!
JILL: Oh – and it helps to have an understanding travel companion when you ask them once again to “stop the car”!
RED: Haha, I’d be putting ‘stop the car’ in capitals to reflect my tone of voice!! But you can’t live on flowers – what’s your favourite RED food?
JILL: I love pomegranates. I made berry sorbet the other day for the first time – delicious! I also love the bush food – Quandongs.
RED: Quandongs nearly made the ‘Q’ section of my Aussie ABC series! And your favourite cherry recipe?
JILL: I prefer to eat cherries fresh off the stalk! But you could marinate them with a dash of something.
RED: Is that your car in the Go Camping Australia cover shot?
JILL: This is my son’s vehicle. It was taken on the Great Central Road between Western Australia and the Northern Territory, on the WA side of the border.
RED: How did you get the photo?
JILL: My son and his family were taking a few months to trip around the Eastern side of Australia and we went with them from Kalgoorlie to Alice Springs. When I took this shot, we were waiting on the side of the road for them, I think we had left camp a bit before them, or they had had to stop for a child toilet stop. When I saw them come over the hill I immediately saw a cover shot with that typical Aussie outback RED road. So I took a number of shots of them coming towards me. In 2013, the editor of Go Camping sent an email out looking for a cover shot. I immediately sent this image and it got the nod for the cover shot.
RED: What’s your advice for bloggers who want to make the jump to being published in travel magazines?
JILL: Research the magazines you are wanting to write for. Look at the types of articles they are publishing. Write a good pitch to the editor with some sample photos. Tell the editor your background and why you think their readers would like your story. Make sure you do good research and have accurate information in your article. Finding a destination a little different to write about definitely helps. I once had a fishing article published in a fishing magazine – and I am not even a fisherman! But it was about fishing in the Pilbara, so it was something different to what they normally publish. I also started writing it from an amusing non-fisherperson’s point of view. My husband, who is the fisherman, filled in all the blanks for me ie the fishing details.
RED: Yeah, the different angle thing worked for me too – with Australian Scenic Public Toilets! Where are the best sunsets?
JILL: I definitely think that Australia has the best sunsets, particularly over the Indian Ocean (which is not far from where I live near the coast – so I am lucky) or out in the outback where there is no light or pollution from built up areas. Sometimes sunsets are spectacular, sometimes not. You just have to be ready with your camera to capture it. One of the best things about camping is the sunrises and sunsets. Although we had some really spectacular sunsets in South Africa when we had a trip there.
RED: Where’s your all time favourite Aussie camping spot?
JILL: My favourite? There have been so many!
RED: Actually, I hate to be asked for Aussie favourite ANYTHING! There are usually too many options to pick from!
JILL: Skull Springs east of Nullagine would have to be up there on the list, and Camel Soak east of Perenjori when the wildflowers are out. Purnululu and any of the gorges along the Gibb River Road are amazing, but it would take us about 5 days for us to get there! On our recent trip to South Australia we really loved Arckaringa Station near the Painted Desert.
RED: I’m so ashamed! As an honorary South Australian, I’ve never been to the Painted Desert! What rig do you use for outback travel? Who do you usually travel with? Where is your next trip??
JILL: We have a Prado 4WD, and tow a camper trailer, however we occasionally still take our tents. I travel with my husband and our youngest son. Sometimes our eldest son and his family come along too. We did a lot of travel in 2013. In 2014 we’ve been back to Karajini as we hadn’t been there for about 10 years! That was pre-digital, and I needed to get some digital pics! One thing about travel writing is that we try to go to places we haven’t been before so we have seen a lot of Western Australia since I started. The rest of Australia is going to take more time.
RED: I’ve found the same thing with travel blogging! Where’s your favourite overseas destination?
JILL: To be honest we haven’t done of lot of overseas travel in the last 10 years, preferring to see more of Australia as there is so much to see right here and we haven’t seen it all yet. Some of that may unfortunately be to do with terrorist threats. We were in London just after the underground bombings, and it was unnerving. Perhaps that is why I like outback Australia so much! We had an amazing trip to South Africa, staying at Thornybush game reserve adjacent to Krugar National Park. And we also had a wonderful trip to France, and were shown around by our French friend for two weeks. I would really love to go to Antartica. We went back to Singapore last year – the Gardens by the Bay were spectacular.
RED: Yes, I keep telling people we’ll go back overseas once we’ve ‘finished’ Australia – but that won’t happen anytime soon! What’s the best thing about travelling in Australia?
JILL: I love outback Australia and the wide open spaces and the opportunity to camp in the bush. The scenery is spectacular.
RED: And the worst?
JILL: The heat, wind and the flies. We really struck them last September (2013) crossing the Nullarbor, and coming down the Oodnadatta Track. We had to wait till dark to cook our dinner and you wouldn’t want to open your mouth too much! The distance we have to travel, and the fuel costs, to get anywhere, particularly from WA really eats into your holidays. I also hate having to pass road trains, which is why my husband always drives.
RED: I hear you! You’re a great advocate for your home state, Western Australia. What are your 5 TOP WA must-see attractions?
Purnululu (Bungle Bungles);
Fitzgerald River National Park (during wilflower season);
The gorges of the Gibb River Road,
the south west corner of WA! Sorry that is 6!
RED: 6 is fine! Which is the REDdest?
JILL: Of these Karajini would be the reddest – and Sturt Desert Peas.
RED: My favourite flowers! Your new interest – Spanish Flamenco Dancing – looks like fun! Have you ever been tempted to dance somewhere really bizarre?
JILL: Echo Cave at Elachbutting Rock in the north eastern WA wheatbelt. It is a curved undercut cave in the rock face. If you stamp at one end it echoes around to the other end.
RED: Thank you so much, Jill! Do you have any final RED words of wisdom for our readers?
JILL: If you buy a red car, be careful because they really do go fast!
RED: Haha, words to live by!!
All photos are by Jill – but you knew that, right?!
Check out my other RED Alert Interviews!
Red Alert #12 Jill: Life Images by Jill (blog link)
- Red Alert #11: Anne – InspiRED by Pretraveller
- RED Alert #10:Andrew – Rouge et Noir at the HighRise
- RED Alert #9: Kath – Blue turns to RED in Geneva
- RED Alert #8: Iris – A Double Half of RED
- RED Alert #7: LadyFi – RED Glory in Sweden
- RED Alert #6: Terri – Terri rocks RED Rocks
- RED Alert #5: Christopher – ‘I must be off’ in the RED Zone
- RED Alert #4: Diane – Adventure Before Dementia goes WEST
- RED Alert #3: Riet – Red and REDDER in the Netherlands
- RED Alert #2: Annabel – Get In the HotSpot sees RED
- RED Alert #1: Jim – Holes in my Soles goes to Africa