1- Hello Debra, can you please tell us a bit about you?
My name is Debra M. Josephson. I grew up in New York culture,. Lived globally – including Peru, S. Korea, and Malaysia. I currently reside in Austin, Texas. I have multiple degrees, including B.F.A. from The Ohio State University, M.A. from NYU and more currently an M.S. in Journalism from the University of Oregon. And, I did all this with a severe anxiety-depressive disorder.
2- How do travel and photography help you to overcome your anxiety? What do you mean by “mental Elixir”?
My journey with my anxiety-depressive disorder has been for a couple of decades, well, since it was diagnosed in the 90’s. I always just considered myself a “worry-wart,” however, I didn’t get off that easily. In fact, back then, I wasn’t even aware of mental health issues like we do today.
Anxiety simply is an unrealistic worry or fear that feels like “the world is gonna end.” It typically is by definition, about an imminent event with an uncertain outcome. But, mine is amplified than that of the standard normal anxiety. Nothing has to be wrong, if fact, everything is usually fine. But, my mind has a chemical imbalance and I am unable to see or feel that. I can have such an attack of this, such with a transition in life, like moving, that can trigger a full blown attack with depression. It is quite a pain that is indescribable.
Travel and photography play a major role in my anxiety maintenance program, besides they both are just about the main things I lust for in life, with art and culture. In fact, I know their roles are, in part, my purpose in life.
For starters, travel and photography are about being present in life, and that requires keeping my thoughts where my feet are grounded. A person can only focus on one thing at a time, so, when I have my camera, I forget about my future and past, and look at life as it is now. My breathing slows down and centers my thoughts on what is in front of me. Travel, if done right, meaning, going off paths, into unknowns to find authenticity, requires my full attention. As a solo traveler, I need to be completely aware of my surrounding and take actions that require me to be fully conscious. It also helps me realize when I do have anxiety, I can act my way through feelings, “act as if – feelings, not facts.” I use experiences to overcome my fears.
So, a mental elixir is simply my way of saying mental health. There are only elixirs, remedies to help those like myself. There is no cure to overcome it. I can only hope one day there are improvements in treating this. Until then, I need to continue medical assistance, spiritual exercises and travel photography to support my well-being.
3- What influences your work?
All the small little beautiful details in everyday life. The most beautiful photographs I have done and the ones I admire are of random routine moments in a new perspective. It’s how I see the world; I appreciate the ways of others from all cultures.
4- How long have you been blogging your experiences?
I have been told to blog my travels since I decided to live overseas back in 2006. But, I didn’t consider it much, rather I put all my effort, time and dedication into my travels and photography. I have been building my blog site from the ground up for a few months. The infrastructure is solid and looks great! Now, it’s about generating traffic and getting business in place.
It did not occur to me back then, that I could benefit from blogging/writing, mentally, and financially. Originally, I was looking to become a Freelance Photographer with perhaps, Lonely Planet, or alike, but those days are gone. Being a Travel Entrepreneur with a blog started a few months ago, but with a maturity and knowledge, most don’t have, yet. And, I am going to be able to help so many people with the same goals (with women solo travel, photography, travel, and mental elixirs) Hence, where I got the name Experient Explorer. I have lots of experience from exploring myself in the world – with travel.
More so, I am in the midst of creating my first e-book, also, utilizing my photography to create Instagram inspirational quotes for an affordable rate. I am interviewing a blogger who lives on a limited budget…. Lots in the works. Certainly, my goals to “be homeless” and travel the world came far before this digital age. I am figuring it all out now. Lots to learn and do! Social media is complex.
5- With the mobile cameras era, what are the new rules of a professional photographer?
No new rules, just new equipment. To be a great visual storyteller, you need to use the same formula. Mobile/digital vs. analog photo equipment are only tools to reflect ideas.
6- So, What are your tools and gears?
Ha, my least liked question! 😉 Why? Many amateurs and enthusiasts get tripped up on this because they look at great photographs and think, “If only I had that camera, lens, etc., I would be a great photographer. And, simply, it isn’t true, as, to those, like myself who have studied a lifetime and learned photography – visual communications, from the ground up. We’d like to think our skills can’t be “bought.”
I wrote about this on my blog recently that will become my e-book, “11 Ultimate Tips to Become an ‘Experient’ Visual Storyteller.” None of the photographs in it were taken with a pro level camera, though I do own a Nikon DSLR with a range of lenses. I have one because it is a tool that reflects ideas with that kind of camera. For my Cuba trip, back in April, I brought a Panasonic Lumix FZ200, my favorite film camera, Rolleiflex twin lens reflex, – and my iPhone for easy sharing on social media. I kept it light so I can focus on observing, feeling and thinking about my moments.
We photographers, always suggest to beginners to start from the beginning. And to learn patience and to – see – the world with any camera, for now, to develop your “camera-eye.”
A basketball no more made Michael Jordan a superstar than a $3000 DSLR camera will make you a National Geographic legend, like Steve McCurry.
7- What has been the most challenging phases of your life/journey? How successful do you think you are at it?
Not to sound dramatic, but it has been challenging, from the get go, dealing with my health issues to my unorthodox lifestyle with my creative mind and ventures. There aren’t many people I know or knew starting this global life that could help me get on track. I needed to just start.
It has been a bumpy road, like the kind with potholes, with gravel, no tar or street signs. But, I know, and knew since childhood, that my life was to literally journey around this planet. I read a quote not too long ago, “If we were meant to stay in one place, we’d have roots like trees.” I just don’t see how I could ever continue to grow as a human and learn the beauty and truths about life without travel and photography.
I believe I have only begun growing as a woman wanderlust-er, and not a complete success at it, yet. Too many I know, say I have, considering where I have started, but I am my own toughest critic. An artist/creative tend to feel this way. “I didn’t come this far, to only come this far.”
Right now, I feel I do have some substantial experience in living out of my comfort zone, taking healthy risks, being curious and explorative, and making the best out of every moment I can. I have grown as a human, in the spirit and emotional aspects. I do consider this a success, considering my challenges.
Success also has nothing to do with money, for me. That is also, just a tool, that I am in need of to be Experient Explorer | DMeryl. I know I will get there, I am learning through those who are doing it. One step at a time.
8- Which are the destinations or places you have chosen to explore with your camera?
Costa Rica – my first solo adventure.
Peru – (mostly in the South) – lived and worked there in Arequipa.
Cuba – The Northern Coast.
Korea – lived and worked there, in Gwangju.
Japan, Tokyo and some cities on outskirts, like Kamakura.
Malaysia – live and worked there. Penang was my favorite place.
Singapore – Little India was a highlight, for me.
Thailand – Watching a million bats over my head at sunset was bone chilling.
Cambodia –I had a full spectrum of emotions.
Laos – French, Asian, Buddhism fused fun!
Myanmar – The most majestic light and places.
Vietnam -Ho Chi Min City. Be careful with your technology.
Nepal –Beautiful and complex. It is an adventure.
Italy – I want to retire there, with a bulldog by my side.
Barcelona, Spain – I have some of the colored rocks from the beach.
Canada – Vancouver and British Columbia.
USA – (New York – my home state, and a few other states).
9- Where do see yourself in the next 5 years?
I try to live a day at a time. I just hope I am happy in 5 years and more mature in my career with an English Bulldog companion. “The Journey is the Destination.”
10- What can you tell young Travelers who are pursuing their dreams?
I am truly impressed with how many passionate, free-spirited, business-savvy young travelers I see on social media. They are successfully doing this digital nomad, traveler lifestyle with two feet in and no looking back. My maturity with organic global experiences has opened my heart and wise mind.
The top 5 best tips I can offer, at this moment:
- Create the life you want, not based on the expectations of others.
- Turn your camera lens toward the world; you will learn more about yourself.
- Become an experient –not a collector of things.
- Gain patience, by participating in developing cultures.
- Ask thoughtful questions, and be a better listener.
11- What are you most excited about at the moment?
My new venture in becoming a Travel Entrepreneur / Digital Nomad with www.experient-explorer.com It has the potential of offering me the independence I have always desired and need to be my most authentic self.
12- The last word or final thoughts?
There’s so much I want to share; this quote sums it up.
So many more adventures await!
“Explore your Spirit. Experience the World.” – Experient Explorer | DMeryl
Debra M. Josephson