Introducing Lauren Ray
In today’s episode, we’ll be talking to Lauren Z Ray. In today’s episode, we’ll be talking to Lauren Z Ray. Lauren is a documentary and award-winning filmmaker & travel content video creator. She documents her travels on YouTube, Instagram, and Tik Tok. Lauren teaches people how to document theirs through reels on Instagram. is a documentary and award-winning filmmaker & travel content video creator. She documents her travels on YouTube, Instagram, and Tik Tok. Lauren teaches people how to document theirs through reels on Instagram.
Her film ‘Welcome to Monterey’ (2020) is about a small town in Indiana and the fight for its life she is currently in production with her new documentary called ‘Winter Fantasy’, about her hometown’s theater program and how it impacted her life and continues to impact others.
In 2018 Lauren and her partner sold all of our belongings and condo in LA to travel the world full-time and that is what they are still doing! Based in Indiana right now for me to finish my film, but I still, continue to travel. Her specialty is storytelling, and Lauren teaches people how to tell stories through video too!
I loved my conversation with Lauren and I think it is going to be particularly interesting for anyone who has ever considered creating video content or if you have ever toyed with sharing your travels with a wider audience, if you are a marketer, or lastly if you are a small business owner, these tips will be really helpful and I am certainly determined to try to do a better job with how I serve people through the video content I create.
In this episode we discuss:
- How Lauren got into video creation
- Video is THE preferred media over photos
- How Lauren creates travel content even when she is not traveling
- Planning content is key
- Having a few go-to content ideas
- Mindset is key. Why do you want to make videos in the first place?
- Popular shots you can take
- Trending video styles now and how to jump on trends
- Technical stuff – tools and settings
- Staying in the moment while documenting video
- Jumping on trends
- Hacks for if you can’t video edit
- Apps for video editing
Learn more about what we talk about
Other World Vegan Travel content connected with this episode
- Create your Own Podcast to Document Your Travels | Jim Moore | Ep 72
- S4 Ep 1 | Vegan Literature, Travel and Creativity | Midge Raymond
- S3 Ep 8 | SheTravel, how to cultivate female empowerment through meaningful solo travel | Nicole Derseweh
- S2 Ep 14 | 17 Travel Apps You Don’t Know About | Brighde Reed
- S3 Ep 11 | How to have some fun documenting your vegan travels | Sarah & Gianluca
Connect with Lauren
Brighde: Hello, Lauren, thank you so much for joining me on the World Vegan Travel Podcast.
Lauren: Thanks for having me.
Brighde: I am really happy to have you on the podcast because we were talking about this before we press to record your Instagram content always comes to me. It’s always like right up there when I open up Instagram. And I think you’re gonna be talking a little bit about why that might be today and I’m really excited to learn about this topic.
And before we talk about this content, like creating video content to document travel why don’t you tell us a little bit about who you are and what you’re doing in the travel space and in vegan travel and in other areas of your life?
Lauren: For sure. I grew up in Indiana in the United States and I always wanted to be in an industry of some type, the entertainment industry. And so I actually went to New York City after graduating high school. And I went to a film conservatory where I learned acting for film and a little bit about how like the film ministry worked and stuff, but I’ve been filming myself since I was like eight years old, an original OG vlogger before vlogging was a thing before YouTube existed.
I was turning the camera on myself to talk to it and moved out to Los Angeles. And I was an actor in Los Angeles for many years. Took a hiatus from doing film and video content creation. And then I started another business with my partner and that took us to travel. So we started traveling the world full time in 2018 and a month into traveling full time. We went vegan. So we weren’t before that. And we decided to do that while traveling, which I think is a challenge that most people would be like, why would you decide to do it? Then it seems like it’s almost impossible to be able to travel and have fun and eat the local cuisine if you’re vegan.
And so I wanted to show that actually it is possible and it’s really fun and the challenge makes it even more fun. So I started doing vegan travel on my YouTube channel that I started and on my Instagram that I had, and. It’s been an amazing experience. I think I’m able to show people vegan options that look delicious, who aren’t vegan, and then people who are always so thankful that, oh, thank you for showing me this.
That’s most of the comments I get on YouTube thank goodness somebody is doing this. So that’s what I did. I filmed my first documentary cuz I’m a documentary filmmaker in 2017. So right before we started traveling full-time and it actually took until COVID when I finally finished editing that. It’s it was like three years later that I finally finished filming that and then released the film in 2021 and made it in a bunch of film festivals. So the whole year 2021 was traveling here in the United States, going to all the different film festivals around us, which was really cool. And of course, the whole time I was documenting, the vegan options and things to do in every city. That’s what I do mostly on YouTube and Instagram. And it was really cool, won a bunch of awards and I’m actually filming a second documentary right now. So I’m located in Indiana, which is where I’m from if you remember from before, and filming my second documentary, but I’m still traveling of course. And hoping to finish this film by November, because we are gonna start traveling full-time in Europe again.
Brighde: And I have to ask, where are you planning to go in Europe?
Lauren: We are going to go to Amsterdam first and the reason being is that we are in Amsterdam every fall, except for the last few years, because of COVID for a conference. So it’s the Amsterdam Dance Event conference, which the other business I run with my partner is a music business about electronic dance music.
So we go to that conference every year, cuz it’s like the Mecca of dance music. So we’ll be in Amsterdam and then we’ll be going to Paris after that and then London. So that’s gonna be very exciting.
Brighde: Well, Good luck editing that film. I know how hard it is just editing an episode of a podcast. So I can’t only imagine what a documentary, a full-length documentary must be.
Lauren: Yeah. It’s a lot.
Brighde: All right. And I wanna invite anyone who’s listening to this podcast to go and check out Lauren rain. Of course, we’ll link to all of her bits and pieces in the show notes for this episode, and yeah. So this is something that we’re gonna be talking a lot about in today’s topic, like documenting our travels through video.
And it’s interesting because actually just a few weeks ago, we had an episode with Jim Moore. He’s somebody who makes podcasts for people. And he was talking about this idea of creating a podcast for travel, which I thought was quite a unique idea. And so I think that’s a new and interesting thing that, that people are starting to think about doing.
And of course, everybody takes pictures when they travel. I guess that’s the most common way that people remember their travels. And I know I certainly take video even when I’m not creating video for World Vegan Travel, I’ll create a few little clips here and there, and it usually just stays on my reel. I never do anything with And I sometimes look at it and I’m like what should I do with this? And I’m just totally thrown by the whole thing. I can’t even get my head into that space to wonder what I could do. So I’m really excited to hear what you have to say about this, so that maybe at least this person right here will be able to improve the video content. So why don’t you go ahead?
Lauren: For sure. So of course I chose a topic just for you, just so you could learn, but if anyone else does on this, that’s a bonus. But yeah, it’s like our whole entire brain, especially on Instagram was wired to take pictures, post them, and now they’re like, huh, video. And it’s you’re having to rewire your entire brain on trying to capture video.
And especially with people who travel a lot, it’s like we have a lot on our minds. where am I going next? How am I gonna get there? Where am I? It just, there’s so much going on in your mind. And on top of that, it’s oh, now I’m going to try to create content while I’m here. So I think I have a few tips and tricks for you all that have helped me because it is a bit of a balance.
I am also the travel planner for the two of us. So I’m doing a lot all at the same time, but the video’s awesome. And I am fortunate enough to have been really into the video for a very long time, as I mentioned earlier. So I had been doing videos a lot on my phone, which is really cool because while I am filming the documentary, I’m not traveling, but I wanna still have travel content.
I’m able to go back to travels before Instagram was a video and before TikTok and taking those videos and creating new content from them. So it’s helpful that I did always record a lot of videos and it was helpful because I was always doing my YouTube channel. So even if I don’t have, a phone video, I can grab some of that YouTube footage and fill in the blanks.
But yeah, today I’m gonna give you tons of tips on how to do that. And I think my number one tip. Is to plan your content, just like you plan your travels to make it a little bit smoother, travel in the trip, and plan your content as well. Of course, you can’t plan everything because if you’ve never been to the country before, or you’re on this hike and you don’t know what to expect on it, you’re not gonna be able to necessarily plan all of your content.
But if you plan a lot of it, it is helpful. So you don’t feel overwhelmed in the moment, especially in a country where you maybe don’t speak the language. And you’ve never been before because that has its own sort of high stakes already going on. But yeah, plan your content. So what I usually do is work backward.
So I’m like, and this will be a helpful tip for you too. What is the title or what would be the subject or what would I say for this video, that’s the first step. So I redo a lot of like different series throughout every place that I go. So for instance, I always do the series of five things to do in the blank.
So five things to do in Amsterdam, five things to do in Denver, and five things to do in Salt Lake City. I always know I’m gonna do five things, so I always pick out ahead of time, where am I gonna go on this trip. What have I chosen, for this trip, and if you’re not the travel planner you could just go to who is and see what, what are we planning for this trip?
And just pick five things that you think other people would enjoy. And of course, my five things aren’t maybe necessarily what everybody enjoys, but it is my Instagram account. So it likes that for you, it is your Instagram account or your YouTube channel. So it is what you are interested in, but you’re sharing it with people in case maybe they’re interested in one out of the five.
So I, I involve a lot of history, museums and architectural things that maybe not everyone’s interested in, but I love it. So I’m always gonna include like a house museum or something like that in my five things. I just, love it so much. And so you work backward from there. And the second step is to come up with what you think the thumbnail would be because I will tell you that the number one thing that you definitely aren’t worried about when you’re traveling is the thumbnail.
Like, why am I even worried about that? But if you’re already taking photos of yourself in a place, you could use that as your thumbnail later. Of course. So it’s not like you really have to think of the thumbnail ahead of time unless you’re doing a YouTube video, then sometimes you need to plan that ahead of time.
So I’ll be talking about the content on YouTube and for Instagram slash TikTok today, but. That’s really important because if you know what your thumbnail is going to be from your title, then you already know what your video is gonna be about. And that just helps so much with planning. And then third sometimes I’ll write a little script, sometimes a little shot list and that’s for if I’m doing, I do these, like another series I do are these like mini-docs where I like to document something.
So either an activity, a restaurant or a place. And I just talk about that solely in that video. So five things, I’m showing five different things, but in this, I’m talking about one thing. And so for that, sometimes I write a little bit of a script, whether it’s in my mind or I actually type it for a restaurant, for instance.
So I wanna talk about a restaurant. What makes it unique? Is it the view? Is it what the restaurant’s like, what it serves? Wanna write those things down so that you remember to film those. I don’t know how many meals when I first started that I would finish and be like, I never filmed it. I never filmed the food.
Not once, because when it came, I just ate it. , so it’s like a whole rewiring of the brain of before I eat, I must record. Or even if you take photos of your food, you can totally understand this where it’s oh this photos of it half eaten or there’s a bite taken out because you totally forgot.
So that’s something too is you have to rewire your whole entire thought process of before I do this activity, maybe I need to, create content for it or while I’m doing this activity and that sort of thing. So that’s what I mean by planning your content ahead of time.
Of course, another bonus tip, for this is while you’re in the moment of something, while you’re experiencing something on your travels, if you’re like, wow, or it really took your breath away, or you felt really impacted by that moment. Don’t you think viewers later would be impacted by that exact same moment?
And if you, so that’s something to clock into as well. If I’m experiencing something, maybe someone else would like to experience this too. And that’s a really good idea to film or take a picture or whatever. And that’s a really good tip for instance. I was just on a hike in Rocky Mountain National Park.
I didn’t know what to expect on that hike. And I wasn’t really planning any context. I’m like, I don’t really know what’s on this hike. I know that there are some lakes involved in some mountains, so I’ll just do content as I go. So anytime I thought, whoa, this is an amazing view or shot, I would film it.
And there are some tips too, with filming that I can give you to switch it up. Cause you’re like okay, so you’re filming it. Are you just scanning across the like mountain or like what are some tips for that? And what I would say is mix it up and try different things. I have a couple of go-to shots I like to do, depending on what it is and what’s dynamic for the viewer.
And sometimes what works on Instagram, doesn’t work on TikTok and vice versa. So you have to, switch it up or even just post it, even if you don’t think it would work there. Cuz it’s just nice to test things. I think that’s like the biggest thing it’s just to learn by trying. I’m still learning.
I’m like, oh, okay, that color didn’t work on that, that writing, or maybe they couldn’t read that, you, you figure it out as you go along. But a couple of tips for that would be to and a couple of my go-to’s are either, and it depends if you’re filming yourself, are you solo traveling?
Do you have somebody with you? Somebody with you is a little easier, but it is possible to film yourself. But I think most of the tips I’m gonna give today is if you have a partner, if you don’t have a partner and I’m during these tips, get a tripod or be able to put your phone up somewhere, to be able to film yourself doing these things.
But so there’s like the, just like regular standalone, so someone just holds your phone and you either walk into the image or you walk away from the image. And I always think it’s a really good idea if you’re walking away to look back at the camera, at least once, especially at the beginning, because when people are scrolling, their attention spans are pretty short.
So is mine, because we’re used to scrolling and seeing content, and to get someone to stay on your video, you really have to grab them with your hook at the beginning. So like the human eyes really is a very good connection, unless it’s just the most, absolutely glorious sunrise or sunset or something else that really grabs their attention.
Then you don’t really need a person in it. And that’s easier for solo travel as well. I’ve done a few of those where it’s just it is what it is. And then there’s another option where someone follows with you. So you’re walking on the hike, do, and someone’s behind you walking with you or someone’s in front of you walking backward capturing you that movement is really cool.
I really enjoy that one. I just did a video of that same hike. I was discussing earlier Rocky Mountain, where the view was just so cool. And so I had this idea, I was like, so fill me stepping up onto this rock and then rotate around me showing the view because I saw the view and I was like, whoa, this is epic.
And then I was like, I gotta record this. So I was like, what would be cool is like showing me experience the view because the human experience is like really good to be able to document whether it be for YouTuber or a real or a TikTok. And so I had him. Film me stepping up onto the rock and then him see, and then I had him rotate around. So you could see my face seeing the view, but also see the view and a really good tip for this too, if you have an iPhone and I’m not really sure about Android or others, how it works, but you can turn the wide angle lens to the 0.5 instead of the one where it’s at, or you could zoom into, I think 3.5 is like the furthest.
It goes, if you go point five it just wide angle lens really explodes the view and you can see a lot better. So that’s also a really good thing to use is that it can make you look slightly distorted. So you wanna try to stay in the middle? If you have a subject of some type, like a person or even an object, that’s the subject. You wanna keep them in the middle because it gets a little distorted out on the edges, but it’s really cool for like views and tight spaces small rooms, and stuff like that. That’s a really good idea to use. it comes to like different gear that you would use, I would say your phone is good enough. And I started out with that for YouTube and for, Instagram and TikTok. Of course, I’m using my phone, but for YouTube, I started out with that too. And I just would rotate horizontally. If you wanna listen to the gear that I used, the next one was, I used the Canon G 7 X, mark two, I believe for vlogging, which is a really compact camera.
You can just flip up the screen so you can see yourself. And that’s a really nice next camera. And it’s automatic like with lighting and focus and stuff, which at first it’s like to learn all that. It’s just a lot. It’s a lot. So you just want something, someone else to do it for you.
So this camera does it all for you. The Sony ZD 1 if you are a Sony person, that’s a similar camera to the Canon I just listed. It’s also really good. Start out vlogging like the camera. And then now I use the Sony A73 which is very advanced. And this camera also, you can turn on all the automatic stuff so that it does everything for you.
I always keep it on the autofocus, to do manual focus while you’re trying to vlog and stuff is a little difficult. But I do like to adjust the lighting and stuff myself, cuz that does come in handy to learn all that. But that’s further down the road if unless you’re really into cameras. It’s I wouldn’t even about that because you wanna get down your style first and you wanna figure out how to capture your travels first and to experiment and stuff.
And I know. You’ve probably watched somebody’s video and been like, wow, that’s amazing. And then you watch your own video at the beginning and you’re like, that’s not as amazing. But everybody starts somewhere and I would say, just try it anyway and get good at it, cuz it’s just, it can all be overwhelming.
And you could feel pretty down about your like views and your numbers and stuff, but what was the reason why you started capturing travels in the first place, it was for yourself, it was for yourself and to relive your moments and to relive the joy and the fun of the experience and be able to watch it later and stuff if you totally approach everything where it’s like I’m doing this so other people see it and so that other people like it, and I’m doing it for the views or to be a big influencer and stuff. That’s a really hard approach, I think, at first, because you will feel all that pressure of having to be perfect, which we’ve learned throughout the years. That actually there’s no such thing as perfect. That’s
Brighde: Yeah I have heard, I’ve heard people say in this space. The biggest thing that I create is this podcast, but, they say that you need to get that intersection of three circles, like something that you have a, maybe a talent for, or you are prepared to learn, something that you’re passionate about and something that people will be interested in.
It doesn’t need to be a huge percentage of the population. It can just be like a little niche. And if you get an intersection that could be where you could you could have some success if that’s what your goal is, but I’ve also heard people saying, the idea of just doing for fame and fortune, probably isn’t going to be very successful.
Lauren: that’s really difficult. That, I think if that is what you really truly feel, maybe you need to step back and self-evaluate a little bit and say like, why is it that’s what I want, and is it to prove people wrong? Is it to show people that you are worthy? Is it to, get somebody else to be proud of you?
And the thing is that’s external validation and. Internal validation is so much more important. You just love yourself and what you do and create and have joy with that. And that’s all fine. And dandy for me to say, because, I’m already able to do this and a lot of people starting out, they’re not able to do it.
And so they’re like I can’t just, do that. I’ve got more pressure on it, but I think if you approach it like that at the beginning, I think it, it’s going to be a lot easier for you to continue because it does take a while sometimes. And so consistency is really a key to, creation and being online and stuff.
But the more you go and the more you get better at it, especially with video, which is hot right now, the better everything will happen. Like you’ll get more views. You’ll get more followers and stuff. It might take a really long time, but you have to come back to the why am I doing this?
And you have to have a really strong why, because it will really be easy to want to just stop doing it. I sometimes have fleeting moments myself because they’re switching things up on you, or maybe you did the wrong content that day, or you forgot to post, or whatever. And, things aren’t like they were before, like whether that’s numbers or whatever engagement and stuff.
But it’s waiting a second. I just really love, either sharing with my community or reliving these moments and just bringing people in, cuz for me, I really enjoy being able to help people plan their travel. Cause I just know how much effort it is and how hard it is. And for us vegans, if you are vegan or plant-based. Extra challenging sometimes, cuz we really have to plan or else we won’t have anything to eat. So it’s a lot. And so if I can make that easier for somebody else, that’s I really enjoy doing that. And I actually really enjoy editing and filming and stuff. So it there’s a lot of joy in it for me.
And I think that is very helpful with me not being like, that’s it I’m outta here because today was not the day that happens a lot, but it’s no, it’s you enjoy this for other reasons. But sometimes I have to remind myself seriously because it’s really tough, but. an experiment, which maybe if you’re listening and you’re just starting out, you might wanna do the same, but I decided to learn how to vlog better on YouTube before I started my channel, that I would vlog every day and edit it and put it up unlisted or private, no one would see but just to get in the practice of doing it first, because I just didn’t know how, I was so new to new, to the space.
So I was like, I just, I kind of wanna practice. And it was very boring stuff. I wasn’t doing anything exciting at the time. I knew I was about to go on a trip and travel, but I had never done it before. And so I just filmed my life, which is really cool because now I have all that footage of my life when that’s really neat.
And sometimes what you deem as oh my life’s boring. I think sometimes you’re thinking about what other people are gonna think about it, and they’re gonna think your life is boring because it’s like those boring vlogs are some of my favorites now because I’m like, oh yeah, I remember when we used to do that, or I remember that old townhouse we used to live in or whatever.
And that’s the exact feeling you get when you watch your travel videos. It’s I remember seeing that epic view or trying that food or whatever. It’s very similar. So I wouldn’t stop myself or allow fear to set in because you’re afraid you’re gonna be boring because sometimes I am too I’m sure.
And I enjoyed the mini vlog I made, but people didn’t maybe, but that’s why I think it, it really a huge major tip is just to you find the why for yourself, not for other people, because you don’t wanna chase that, you don’t wanna chase that. I promise it’s gonna be too difficult.
And then another great tip is okay, so I’m going on this trip. Lauren’s given me a few ideas for videos, but like seriously, what content am I supposed to film there? So I have a really good tip. And this is why I always ask myself is okay, I’ve got the location I’m going? What makes that location unique? You’re gonna come up with tons of ideas that way.
So if you’re going to Athens, the Acropolis, the Parthenon that’s what makes it unique from other places. So you’re gonna do a lot of content there and that will start getting the gears going and start the ball rolling of coming up with like things you wanna film and stuff like that.
Just film, whatever. Yeah. You can plan some things like the five things to do are very, that’s very planned for me. But just film a lot of stuff. And then later you’ll have all that for different things. Like I’m so glad I filmed like four years ago. Because now video’s a thing I didn’t know it was then.
So I’m so thankful I have that footage. Just keep filming or whatever. And a hot tip for that is to go to the browser page on Reels, which is like that little magnifying glass click on the Reel and just scroll up until you find a song or maybe somebody else is Reel that really excites you and duplicates it.
It’s not gonna be a copy because you’re gonna bring your own unique footage and your own unique point of view to that Reel I think that’s a really good tip. And that’s why I tell people a lot when they’re like, I don’t know, I have some footage or maybe they haven’t filmed anything yet. I don’t really know what to do.
I don’t know how to do Reels. I’m like, okay, go to the browser page that magnifying glass and see what other people are doing. And if it speaks to you or excites you, you make that. And another thing you can do, which I always say to try out, because, filming, editing, what. I don’t know. It’s do you do an external app? Do you do that on Instagram? Oh, it’s too much now.
Brighde: That’s what I was gonna ask
Lauren: Yes. And here’s another hot tip for that, which is you can take the music from whatever’s trending or whatever is on your browser page and have it right there and in your camera. And you can film to the beat of the music so that you don’t have to really necessarily learn how to edit at first, if you wanna do a video with lots of different cuts, you could just to the beat of the music. So if you’re hearing like a music beat, that’s boom, boom, boom, boom. Okay. You’re like boom. That’s four shots. So you press record. You’re gonna hear the boom. And then when the next boom’s gonna happen, you just let your thumb go from recording, and then you find something else maybe later on in the day or whatever, you can keep in your drafts, open it up again and then do another shot. And then later do another, I always recommend doing that first, if you don’t know how to edit, or if you don’t have editing software or whatever, just to edit live like that. And you can go into the Reels app. I honestly use the Reels app almost exclusively., Some Yeah.
Brighde: that you do that.
Lauren: People always are like what do I have to use? And I’m like Instagram. somewhat I’m doing. Like my voiceover mini docs, I have to edit externally from Reels, but I technically could edit those in there.
Because they do have a voiceover capability, but I prefer this external app called InShot it is free to start, but then you have to pay, but I think it’s relatively inexpensive for the year. I think $30 for the year or something like that. I really love it because I can edit my voice really easily and stuff. If I mess up on the voiceover, whereas when you’re doing it on Instagram, you have to be perfect. It’s a little tricky to edit out your voice. So I just like it for that reason, but yeah, I almost exclusively use the app on Instagram because I use the music to edit video clips too.
And so the music is on Instagram, so it’s a lot easier to edit within that. So like I was saying earlier about live editing, if you mess up or something really easy, just go in and you can. Edit the little clip to be a little shorter if you went too long or whatever, but at least it’s a starting place. At least it’s a starting place, cuz it can get very tricky and overwhelming. So I think that’s another really good tip.
Brighde: Yeah. Yeah. I will say that maybe I’m just a, it’s not so natural for me, cuz I’m a little bit older, but I find video editing on the phone to be very challenging. And maybe I just need to understand the platforms a little bit better, but I have used InShot before and it is really great app and you can pretty much use everything from what I know. They have this watermark on it, but if you watch an ad then you can get that watermark taken off. And it really is as video editing software on a phone goes, it’s quite intuitive and easy. But also really powerful. It’s really quite surprising.
I’ve I edited a train ride on the Bernina Express Train from Italy to Switzerland on that. And yeah, for me, that performed quite well as a little video and I was just taking little shots inside the train and outside the window and
it wasn’t too bad Inshot was great.
Lauren: I do love it. I’m obsessed. So that’s definitely what I use, but a lot of times with the Reels, and I would say if you aren’t a huge fan of editing on the phone, just start doing it. Because I also was like that and I was like, Ugh, because. I’ve been editing YouTube videos and then documentaries on my computer.
It was my preferred method, but man, it was so much effort to try to, airdrop all the footage from my iPhone, into the editing and export it, and put it back on my phone. It was like, okay, now this is forcing me to do it on the phone. And then I just got better at doing it on the phone. And now it’s not as big of a deal, but man, I also was like, Ugh, it’s so small, so tiny.
And with Inshot you have to really get your finger perfect. To be able to edit those clips or whatever. So yeah, I understand the frustration of that, but yeah, I would just say, and I think that’s the thing I keep repeating, but like just get started. Just start trying,
just, you know,
Brighde: Yeah. just, practice. Just practice.
Now I know something that we wanted to talk about today was this idea of balance, like living in the moment, but also creating content. And this is something I, I know struggle with. And I also think it’s a lot, a big reason why a lot of people might not want to document whether it’s for themselves or for Instagram or whatever it is that because they wanna be in the moment and, we are taking photos and that’s taking us enough out of the moment as well.
So how do you do that as somebody who is, creating a lot of video content, but it’s very clear to me that you really love where you are going and what you are seeing and what you are doing? How do you stay present in that moment as well?
Lauren: Very good question. good question. And it’s taken a while for me to get it down and I think I have four tips for different styles. My number one tip is what I said earlier, which is if you plan your content pretty well, then you know what you need. And after that, you don’t have to worry about content.
And what’s really helpful is some of the activities you do, you can’t film so some house museums, I go on, you can’t film inside. So I’m like got the next hour off, but yeah, and you get the shot that you need or a couple of shots that you need, and then you can experience it. So let me walk you through what that kind of looks like.
Say you’re in Paris and you wanna go to the Eiffel Tower. You really wanna experience the Eiffel tower but you also wanna get content on the Eiffel tower. So how I would approach this is I usually give, and this is if you’re not solo traveling, but I usually, if it’s something I know is gonna be epic and I’ve never seen it before, and I really wanna capture that human experience and me seeing it for the first time, I’ll give my camera to my partner and then I’ll have him fill me experiencing it.
So you get to live in the moment in that way because somebody else is filming you. You don’t have to really worry about the content in that sort of way, which is a really cool shot to do. And it, as I told you earlier, maybe a little bit of a wide-angle lens, you have somebody following you, seeing your reactions, seeing it for the first time, pan across.
And I really like these because it’s one take. And it’s so simple. You find trending music, you add it to the trending music, and you upload it. And it’s done. It’s like one of the most simple videos to do, and they work really well. Cuz they’re very trendy right now is like this very short three-second type, a bit of a movement sort of video with an epic view.
They’re very popular. So I definitely recommend shooting those because they’re pretty simple to do. That’s one tip. So you have somebody else film you experiencing it. Another tip is to like I said, plan, plan your content so you can get all the shots you need, and then you can experience it.
So for the Eiffel Tower, I would say alright, I wanna do For my five things video, I wanna do like where this is one of the things to do in Paris. So I’m gonna film that shot. Let’s do a really cool shot, like the wide angle where I’m walking up and I’m seeing it for the first time. And then I’ll just get content for my Instagram story.
So a little bit of the actual Eiffel tower or, yadda, I’m also filming YouTube videos. So for me, I have I’m. Okay. Now I’m done with Instagram and TikTok. Now let’s put, pick up the big camera and then vlog it or I do the vlog first and then I do that content. So I’m standing in front of the Eiffel Tower for a while getting all this content. And then also I like to take pictures. So the thumbnail, what, okay. I’ll probably do this for the thumbnail for our YouTube. So I need a couple of pictures of myself here. I want a couple of pictures for my story, or maybe to use later cuz you know travel bloggers or vloggers like we need a lot of like travel shots for things. So it’s oh, this Eiffel Tower is pretty iconic. I wanna get really good pictures of this. And then I’ll vlog it, what do I wanna say on the blog or whatever about it? And then I’m done with in front of the Eiffel tower at least, but every sort of like aspect you get to, you need to refilm depending on what video you’re doing.
But if you’re like one and done I just wanna do that, wide angle really cool little video, and then you’re done. That’s awesome. Then you’re done. So you can really experience it really live in the moment for that. For me, with cuz, I film like almost everything. So there are rare times where I will put my camera down, but I think that because it’s so second nature now, cuz I.
Let’s see, from 2018 to now that’s four years. I’m four years deep on it. It’s a little second nature. And so the planning a lot goes on in my brain and I just feel this like inclination to do things I don’t have to like double think about everything all the time. I just know that I’m gonna film it.
I’m able to live in the moment a little bit easier that way, just because I’ve, distracting for me to be able to film it, but at first, it was that’s a thing, but you’re also thinking isn’t there a time where you don’t wanna have the camera in your hands at least a little bit. So if, because I plan a lot of my stuff ahead of time, if I’m not going to film on a day, or there’s an activity that I know won’t film or I know that I’m done, like I’ve done my five things.
I’ve done a lot of content. There’s enough for that YouTube video to go up. I won’t even bring my cameras or my phone outta my pocket. And I will experience a full day or a full activity or a full event. And so those are moments too, that you can live for. So you don’t have to film everything you do. but
Brighde: Yeah I’m thinking back to when we were in Rwanda in 2019, and we have this precious one hour with the gorillas there and we all told each other to just take a few shots of the gorillas and then just enjoy the moment. And some people were able to be successful with that. And some people do not, and often like the baby gorillas would just do something totally adorable and you wanna capture it. But I, I definitely think, and for example, I’m going away at the end of the month. We’re gonna do a lot of amazing stuff and I do sometimes I do very often think, okay, what content will I create? What products do I want at the end of this? Like in terms of finished videos or finished photos or whatever. And then I write a little bit of a list, but I’ve never really gone into greater detail than that. What shots would I need? Because very often, if it’s like a, let’s say three things I ate in Frankfurt, for example, I would end up shooting absolutely everything.
And then I’d end up with all of this like 30 videos and I’m just totally overwhelmed by somehow putting this into something small. So yeah, I think that’s something I’m gonna try out. We are gonna be doing lots of hiking in the Dolomites there’s definitely gonna be a lot of those epic views.
Lauren: Yes. it’s gonna be amazing. I totally agree too, like with the food, so that’s a whole other subject. I don’t even think I’ve touched on it. It’s vegan traveler, you’re like, I wanna show people like the food and stuff. So I’ve come up with a series that’s really easy because I used to just do the most, like with the foodstuff, but I came up with a series that’s easy, and feel free to also duplicate this.
But I only get one shot of me eating something as the opening shot. And it’s usually if it’s a very engaging food piece or I’m in a very engaging location as your first clip. And then after that, I just videotape my food, like one shot or two, maybe if I need like a second angle and that’s it. And then what I’ll do is I’ll say just like you like three things I ate or I’ll say like everything I had at blah, blah, blah.
And then it’s just that opening shot. And then it’s just, food clips, and that is just so much easier and simpler than doing the most okay, I need a shot at every place of me trying the food. I need a shot at every place of the food. I need pictures of me eating the food. It’s very overwhelming.
And like almost makes you not wanna do anything at all. Sometimes, so I’ve simplified it down to and that’s what I’m doing currently. So who knows what we’ll have later, but I love that so much more. It was way too much pressure, but if I’m going to a really cool restaurant that has like a unique like I was like a thing about it, or a unique dish, which as plant-based people, there’s always a unique dish or like a unique location or something like that.
I will do a standalone video talking all about it, a little mini docu. And so there will be more shots and angles of that. Of course, but where I’ll be like establishing shot outside of the restaurant, talking about the restaurant showing the, if it’s about the vibe. So I just did the sci-fi drive-in diner, which is at Hollywood studios in Disney world.
It’s a restaurant where you literally go into a sound stage and they have it dressed like you’re at a drive-in movie theater and you eat out of a car that it’s at night. And then there’s this huge screen showing old 1950s kind of driving stuff.
And the people come to serve you in your car. And, experience not doing a standalone video form. And what makes it unique okay? That you eat in cars and that it’s a drive-in movie theater. So I needed to make sure I got a shot of all the cars facing the screen.
And then I wanted to get standalone, shot of the screen. And then, of course, to show all the amazing vegan options that they had, which, Ugh, they were so good. They had the burgers, the fries, they had spinach and artichoke dip they even have milkshakes. And I was like, yeah, I was like, I’ve gotta have it all and record it all because it’s just too good for that. But that every restaurant I went to a Disney world, no, just maybe one or two shots to show or whatever. So you just that’s why I really encouraged to plan content because it takes the pressure off. I know it sounds like a lot more pressure almost or a lot more time. It really takes the pressure off when you’re traveling, cuz you’re thinking way too many things.
And to also think of content it’s a lot and maybe you’re listening to this like I just wanna do videos just to remember things by definitely no pressure there. Then, just think about what you wanna remember and then, and film that, but you never know down the road, you might do what I do, which is four years later.
You’re like, I’m not traveling right now, but I still wanna do travel content. I have all those videos from before I could use. Just film everything but not everything,
Brighde: I love it. I love it. All right. Here’s a question for you in terms of what you do to try to optimize the video, if you are looking for a video to be particularly successful, is there anything that you do particularly is there anything special you do with hashtags or titles or anything like that?
I guess I’m talking about Instagram Reels?
Lauren: it’s similar with YouTube as well and TikTok really with my answer anyway which is, there’s a co ofuple things that I do. And honestly, even if you do all these things, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t it’s so it can be very random, but it’s really cool when it does, of course, but it’s really cool when it doesn’t cuz you’re like, okay, so why, as I told you, it’s just a little learning experience and it’s really cool actually to think of and figure out maybe why something didn’t do as well as sometimes there’s no reason at all but tweaks and stuff, it that’s great, cuz it helps you discover your NA niche it a little bit better, what kind of content like is easier for you or like what you like doing and stuff like that. So the tweaks, but two things that I like to do, one is to keep my eye out for what’s trending. Like I was telling you those VI videos those three-second or fewer video clips of an epic view and a person, a human experiencing that, honestly though it doesn’t have to be a human cuz I’ve seen somewhere a dog is experiencing a really cool view and stuff like that, that do really well.
So it’s just and sometimes just like the view just does well on its own. Those are really trendy videos. So that’s a style that I’ve now started doing, because I’m like, okay these are what’s working. So you’ll see that kind of pass through, some travel influencer in the most like an epic bed with this window, that’s overlooking the Eiffel tower and the camera passes by them in bed.
Like looking out the window through the window, into the Eiffel tower, those videos, those are really trendy. Like some that big view, some epic situation or like it could even be a standstill, like in Turkey where they, and I forget the name of the place. They do all these like hot air balloons. And
Lauren: There it is. Yes. All the hot air balloons. You see this one, all the hot air balloons, and someone’s just like pouring a cup of tea on this blanket and all the hot air balloons are behind,
Brighde: I’ve seen
Lauren: You know the ones these are the trendy ones. So what I’m saying is there has to be some sort of movement. And there has to be a view because if there’s no movement, people can’t tell it’s a video.
So there has to be some sort of movement. So like I said, pouring the T or the camera’s movement. So it could be the person’s movement or the thing is the movement or the camera’s movement, so some sort of movement, three seconds long, some epic view. And then the next part which is a tip is to get trending audio.
So when you go to that magnifying glass for Instagram, particularly, and you click on the Reels and you’re scrolling how can I tell it’s trending audio? Next to the name of the song will be a music symbol or a symbol note or a music note. If it’s an arrow pointing. That means it’s a trending song.
If it’s a music note, that means it’s not a trending song. So just try to use the songs with the arrow pointing up for trending. Instagram loves those and they will promote your reel a lot more. And so one of them, best videos is my easiest, honestly, because they’re the three-second ones of some epic view of some sort of movement with trending audio.
And it like works every time. Like without fail
Brighde: I think I know the one that you are referring to it was a beautiful view. And you are enjoying this view and you’re by the side of this lake. But it was literally three seconds
Brighde: it had 50,000 views
or something like that. It’s just incredible.
And that’s, and you think it’s, the combination of epic view someone enjoying the view and the trending
Lauren: That is magical. And really thinking, okay, about the caption, what kind of like things do I write on the Reel depends on the Reel and that’s why I said pay attention to trends. So that is a trend. Now there’s a second trend that I’ve been keeping my eyes out for. And I’ve seen a lot of where it’s a very simple kind of setup and they write the words on the screen POV, and then they write what this POV is.
And it’s usually something relatable or something, not relatable at all. So it’s one of the two it’s like, there’s no in-between or else the real won’t quite hit as hard, but it’s one of the two and those can be really short and really simple. One of my other Reels that did really was like, it was a video of the New York subway passing by right in front of me. Outside Brooklyn, the New York subways are outside Manhattan. They’re mostly underground. So I’m in Brooklyn and it’s up above me. And it says, point of view, you’re trying, you just arrive at the train station and it’s leaving. Like how relatable is that? Ugh is not the worst. And so it’s again, three-second video of a train going by and just the words, POV, blah, blah, blah, blah.
So that’s a trend too. So you just pay attention to trends and you duplicate, but with your sort of the point of view with your footage. And what’s interesting is when I filmed the New York subway going by, I just thought it was a really cool shot. I had no idea that I was gonna do that video of it later.
But later I thought of it and I was like, isn’t that the this is a good point of view of the video. So like I said, you play your content, but you don’t play your content, but your film, like things that you find interesting. I was like, this is a beautiful shot. I gotta get this. I don’t know why, but yeah.
And then I, and I did that, so that’s a really popular style too. So it’s not about hashtags anymore. Also. You don’t have to use hashtags anymore you. Instagram’s AI is so smart right now that it doesn’t need hashtags. It can tell what your video is about by seeing your video and the words you use too.
But even that cuz some of my best videos, I just, I, and it might be even that one where I’m in the forest where I’m stepping up on the rock and there’s this lake with this forest. But I think I just said what a great day as a caption, doesn’t say anything about what it is or, and it still does well because, your, captions aren’t as important, depending on your, niche and your marketing and your branding.
Maybe you’re the long caption lady. I don’t know. But so maybe it would work for you then, but the simpler, the better it’s really about when what I’ve been ranting on for all those whole time is that hook that catches the viewer’s eye in the video. It’s really that, and then turning that into what the trend is.
And, some people are like, oh, I don’t wanna have to follow the trends. Trends are lame. They don’t seem original, but they are original and they’re not lame or they wouldn’t be trendy. You have to think about it like that because I thought it was so fun when I discover a new trend. Cause I’m like, how can I do this trend?
It’s almost an exciting creative project. It’s it doesn’t feel limiting to me. It still feels very expansive. So depends how your point of view of it, but yeah, you don’t really have to use hashtags. You don’t even have to worry about your captions. Sometimes videos do well with you right on them.
So it depends what you’re doing. So for instance, the five things to do. In Salt Lake City. For instance, if I don’t write the five things to do on the video, you’re viewing ’em, but is it as helpful without it? And is it as appealing to a viewer without writing on there? So like in that case, I would write, these are the things to do in this place.
And I’ve experimented a little bit with starting out with me being like five things to do and then moving into the number one. And then I’ve also experimented where I go right into number one, without even a reference to what it is. And I’ll tell you why, because when people are scrolling, they’re like five things. They don’t wanna wait for it. Sometimes they just wanna get right into the meat,
Lauren: It’s hilarious right into the meat. I feel like the vegan version of that is right into the, what would we say right into the cause? I love coming up with where it is, right? Sink their teeth right into that coconut meat. I love so get right to it. So I would say just experiment and try things.
Look at what’s working just the kind of cool homework, but watch a lot of Reels and Tik Toks and YouTube videos and discover what is working, but take, it’s gonna have your spin on it and your creativity on YouTube. I do something very different, which is that I’m a documentary filmmaker.
So when I do travel blogs, I do them documentary style. So they’re not typical And filming myself, like, all right, we’re about to go to this place. You’re not gonna see that from me. You’re gonna see a documentary style where you’re gonna see the exterior shot, and you’re gonna hear the sounds of where we are. No vlog music. You’re gonna hear the sounds of where we are. And then you’re gonna hear a voiceover of me talking about the place, and then it’s gonna cut to me in the place, experiencing it with someone filming me. That’s more documentary style. So I do like totally different stuff on there. Because I love doing that. And some people aren’t into it. Some people aren’t that’s okay. I like doing it. See, so I tell you to be trendy. I tell you not to be, but you decide for yourself what you want. But the cool part is that it is quite simple on Reels. Now we’ll see what happens, when Reels first started out, you had to do all original content.
There was like no music on there, there was like, no cool word, and then it turned into the cool word thing where it was somebody’s audio doing like a word thing, and then you would mouth it too, but you would write what it is in your version. Some people still do that type of Reel where, you know what I’m saying, where it’s like, oops, I did it again.
Say that’s the audio like, Oops, I did it again. You like to mouth it, and then you come back to the camera, but underneath you’re like bought another vegan cookbook or, like something relatable to your niche or whatever, or put too much nutritional yeast on my chili or whatever, but which is delicious.
But yeah, it, so it’s just turned into now more of an experience where it’s we just tip or we wanna see an experience. I think that’s what the trend is right now, but it’s ever-evolving. And so you just keep track. So if you’re listening to this podcast episode, like later in the future, just like I said, go to that magnifying glass, click on a reel and just scroll and you’ll see what works.
Brighde: Yeah. Everything you’re saying like it is resonating with me because I definitely think that I have a bit of a bad attitude. when it comes to creating some content, I sometimes feel I have to do it and I’ll just rush it and get it done. And of course, this isn’t the best attitude to have when it comes to creative pursuits. I, I understand that. And definitely, I need to have a bit of an attitude adjustment and to just take my time and think about it and be a little bit more mindful. And it’s also looking at content through a creator lens. So for example, I used to be a teacher. And I used to teach in primary schools and we used to use Writer’s Workshop.
And what we would do with our students is we would read a book and enjoy the book. Let’s say we were studying fantasy fiction, for example. And then we would look up what this expert, what this author what this illustrator is doing. What is it that all fantasy fiction writers do, they use these kinds of words then we would read like about 10 or so of these books and really analyze what all of these types of writers and illustrators do, what some of them do, or what if you do? And then once you look, you’ve got that list, whether it’s in your head or on a piece of paper, you know how to create that kind of writing even a five-year-old kid can do something that resembles fantasy fiction, for example, using these features of fantasy fiction. And if a five-year-old can do it, then I think we can too.
Lauren: It’s so true. What you say it is very much okay, what’s working about this, break it down. What could I do similar to this? It’s the same sort of concept when it comes to video creation. And I think you’re so right about the mindset thing, because, and that’s why I really harped on that at the beginning.
It was like, yeah, you wanna create travel content, but like, why is it to make money? Which is great. I love money. Money’s awesome. Does awesome things. Thanks. But it’s but what is the core that’s really there. The money will come, but what’s really there you have to have something that’s driving you forward because it can get very muddy and create can occur and all this stuff. So if you’re like, wait, hang on, I’m doing this because I have so much fun doing it. You gotta get back to one and just have fun doing it. It happens all the time with me even I think comparisons really easy, especially on Instagram especially if people will say it’s all about the numbers, but I have a really quick anecdote that I wanna say, which is that when I first started my Instagram account in 2013, I was an actor.
So it was basically a lot of selfies and talking about acting and stuff, nothing like this. I moved into more travel content. And then I started vegan travel content. And at the time I had 30,000 followers on my Instagram, but a lot of them had been there since the beginning. So they weren’t engaging in my new content. First of all, they were like, meat’s better for you, the classic comments because they, I went plant-based so they were like, what the heck? I don’t, I this sort of thing. The engagement was weird because I had a whole different platform of the audience, Cetera, et cetera.
And so I had this conversation with myself I think I should start a new Instagram account. Yes. I have literally been building this for the last three years. traveling full time and let’s be real. It was like since 2013. So it’s like more than three years, but it would, I was really building it for my new, niche or whatever.
And I thought no one will respect me if I start from zero, because I won’t have any followers. And it’s all about, following and blah, blah, blah. But I, too much pressure. And I started thinking way too much about what other people thought of my content, what was for them?
What would they engage with? What would they like, and what would be good for vegans and non-vegans? And maybe I shouldn’t share so much about the food that I eat and all this, like just, it was just such a mind game about, caring about other people’s opinions and stuff. And it was like, literally what I didn’t want to do I was totally doing. And I thought if I start from zero and from scratch, then I’ll be able to do whatever I feel that brings me joy and the pressure of the numbers and the engagement and the followers and what they think and all this will just be off of my chest. And I can start over. So I did, I started a new Instagram account almost a year ago, cuz it was in October.
I think of last year that I did. I didn’t really announce it or start on it until a little bit later, but that’s when I started the new one. And actually what’s been amazing about it is I’ve connected with so many more people, I get better engagement because everybody who’s there is there for my current content.
I have had way more opportunities, oddly enough, with a smaller following. it’s have reached out with the smaller, like you, you’re afraid to start because you have 200 followers or you have no followers because you are like, there are so many better people out there doing this content who have way more followers.
I would say, don’t let that stop you because it was the best decision I ever made. And I think everything’s better. When I started over, so I would say, go for it. And if it brings you joy and you are excited to try it, do it, and maybe you’re not as good as other people’s content. And maybe you’re not even traveling to as epic of destinations as somebody else.
I don’t really do a lot of like epic destinations per se. That’s just my point of view. I probably do in the grand scheme of things, but I’m always like whoa, they’re in Turkey in these in the shot of these what are those like the hot springs? And they’re like this blue color and it’s insane.
I’m not necessarily doing those things, but I’m like, that’s good for them. And I’m so excited for them. Maybe I’ll do it someday. This is my content though. You have to have that perspective. And I hope that story is a bit encouraging. If you are nervous to
Brighde: yeah. I stumbled across this YouTube video recently, cuz I love watching YouTube these two sisters had a YouTube channel and they had about 150,000 subscribers, 200,000 subscribers, a decent amount, obviously, that’s huge. That’s huge that they had that, but they were quitting their YouTube channel and it was very interesting when they shared why, and what had happened to them. Was that they had this tiny YouTube channel, like 200 subscribers, let’s say? And then in Mr. Beast, who, if you don’t know, he’s one of the biggest YouTubers in the entire
Brighde: He did this YouTube rewind in 2020. I think it was. And he did a shout-out to these tiny little, small YouTube channels around the place and said, go and give them a sub.
So a ton of people went and did a sub to these channels, including this little one here. But what happened was the people that subscribed didn’t actually really care about their content. They only were sent there. They only subscribed because Mr. Beast told them to, which is very nice, but they never watched another video or if they did. And as a result, their engagement just really messed up, and they explained there were other reasons as well, but, and they were very grateful for Mr. Beast a shout-out, but it didn’t really help their channel that much, which seems surprising.
Lauren: it’s totally true. And I just felt that way and I was like, I need to just start over. And it’s really cool because now it can be like, if you don’t appreciate this content, then don’t follow. And if you do see a lot of and we get this a lot too, which is, and I say, we, my partner and I also consult with people for like social media and stuff like that.
So we have a lot of clients, so I know what a lot of people think when it comes to the content and stuff, but they’re so worried about starting cuz they care so much about what people think and what their engagement’s gonna be. And it’s to start at zero actually, because you, it’s more pressure if you have more people of the following and you can work your way into it.
So yeah. Don’t be concerned about any of that.
Brighde: All right, Lauren, I am so inspired.
I am definitely gonna be taking away some of these tips on my big epic trip to Europe in just a couple of weeks. I’m so excited. Thank you so much. How can people follow what you are doing? Maybe engage your services or watch the documentaries that you’ve done. Tell us everything.
Lauren: So Instagram it’s at Lauren Z Ray, Z as in zebra, R A Y Lauren Z Ray. And it’s that for everything. So you can find me on Pinterest and Instagram and TikTok and YouTube. Lauren Zeray and www.laurenzray.com. I have blog posts about my favorite vegan options and a bunch of cities, especially in the US.
I’ve been traveling in the US a lot these past few years. So if you are into that or planning a trip, I have got tons of that. I also have what things to do. So I have tons of blog posts on that. I also have vegan recipes and stuff like that. And that’s also where you can see all my films and, up to date on my films and join my newsletter every month I send a bunch of different recipes and like different blog posts on what’s going on.
And of course, Instagram, I will be showing you how to document your travels as well as showing you my travels, and yeah, it’s a good place to go even to mine, like I keep telling you to go to the browser page and check you can also just check what I’m doing, cuz I’m pretty much up to date on what the trends are and then you can duplicate what I do.
I love it. It gets me so excited to see that because I’m like, yes cuz it’s help. I’m someone, it’s I don’t care if anyone’s copying me. It’s awesome. That’s what we should all be doing uplifting each other and duplicating each other’s work with our own spin. It’s really exciting.
Brighde: I love it. Thank you so much for joining us
Lauren: Thanks for having me. Bye.