So far this summer, photographer Rhiannon Taylor has sipped wine on a balcony while looking out over Sydney Harbour Bridge, dined on hot and sour soup in Siem Reap while listening to the sound of singing monks, and visited a TriBeCa penthouse with a rooftop garden.
In the last year alone, she’s traveled throughout Australia, South Africa, Bali, Abu Dhabi, Italy, the US, and more. She’s chronicled these unforgettable trips on her blog, In Bed With, where she takes followers on an international adventure, stopping over in some of the most unique and unconventional hotels, resorts, and lodges on earth.
A Rhiannon Taylor photograph is instantly recognizable. It’s clean and luxurious, and most often, it’s accompanied by travel notes, detailing where she ate, where she slept, where she wandered. Frequent comments on her Instagram include: “So jealous!” “Sounds Heavenly!!” and “This looks like the perfect place to escape!” (exclamation marks included).
When building her blog and her commercial website, Taylor chose Squarespace, a platform that understood her pristine aesthetic and on-the-go lifestyle. We asked the photographer to tell us about her life, her travels, and everything she’s learned along the way.
What’s the most memorable moment you’ve had throughout all your travels?
“I think each destination leaves a unique impression on me for some reason or the other. I adored learning how to make pasta in Tuscany, accompanied by oodles of full-bodied wine and great company. It was a full sensory experience: getting your hands dirty with dough, eating mind-blowing ravioli in truffle butter sauce, and bursting with happiness and love.
“I loved a recent trip to New York purely because I was there solo. Despite having spent extended periods of time in New York over the past decade, there’s something wholly satisfying and incredibly freeing about spending a day there by yourself. Strolling Central Park, pretending you can afford everything in Barney’s, indulging in champagne at Le Coucou, and quite frankly, giving no f’s about anyone else’s schedule.
“My most unforgettable moment, however, is probably from a recent assignment to South Africa, where I took in a scene of hippos, giraffes, zebras, elephants, and leopards at sunset over the sweeping plains. Jaw-dropping.”
Could you walk us through a typical travel day in the life of Rhiannon Taylor?
“I’m always up before the sunrise because I hate wasting light, even if I have nothing in particular to shoot that day. The first thing I look for when I shoot is light, regardless of whether I’m shooting interiors, food, landscapes, or people. If the light isn’t great, my vibe is pretty flat.
“Often, I’m only in a place for two days, so the pressure to ‘get the shot’ can be intense. I’m currently on assignment for Vogue Living in Thailand, and I’ve got five days here, which is a luxury and gives me a lot of time to get the content I need.
“I rely on social media heavily for inspiration and hot spots in destinations I’m commissioned to shoot. I follow a lot of great travel journalists who are always finding great cafes, secret viewpoints, and hidden gems, so I save a lot of their posts to refer to when I’m traveling.”
You must get so many travel offers. What does it take for you to say “yes”?
“I like to work with like-minded brands and publications, and most of my clients are repeat commissions. I tend to avoid corporate chains, and I’m drawn to working with companies that have our planet’s well-being in mind. Eco-friendly companies and companies supporting local communities and remote locations will pretty much get a ‘yes’ from me. I’m also a sucker for great design, so if it’s a slick new building by an architect I admire, then I’m on my way.”
What special things do you look for when picking your next destination?
“Anywhere that’s off the beaten track and not flooded with tourists. I’ve got some great destinations coming up that I think will become super hot in the next few years, so I’m glad to be visiting them before they become crazy. Oman, Myanmar, and Bhutan are all on the list.
How far out of your comfort zone are you willing to travel for great photographs? What’s the most extreme or unconventional trip you’ve had?
“Anything with a long transit time is really exhaustive for the mind and body. Last month, I had to take four flights, a stopover at 4:00 AM in a terrible hostel, hours of driving, hours of delayed flights, and a boat ride to get to an island in Cambodia. It felt like a never-ending journey.
“I’ve also shot a few stories where I’ve been off-grid from the rest of the world. I did a two-week cruise around the Kimberly region in North Western Australia about six years ago. It was scorching hot, and there are saltwater crocodiles in the ocean, so you don’t really get a chance to cool off! No internet or cell reception for fourteen days was hard at first, but then I embraced it and didn’t want to come back home.”
How and when did you decide to create In Bed With?
“It started over a Christmas break two years ago when I was looking for something creative to sink my teeth into. I’d been shooting for years for various clients and publications, and I kind of wanted to direct my own briefs. Because the idea was unique and the content was all original, it took off pretty quickly.”
What’s the most unusual place you’ve profiled for the blog?
“There’s a little-known destination called Lord Howe Island about two hours flight from Sydney in Australia. It’s World Heritage-listed, and only 400 people are allowed on the island at one time. There’s no fishing, so the marine life has no fear of humans. It’s quite bizarre to get into the water and have hundreds of fish swarming around you. I found it so unusual because it’s got huge Hawaiian-like hikes, pristine Maldivian-style waters, no internet or cell reception, and no cars. It’s kind of what I imagine the world was before humans came along.”
In Bed With now has more than 85,000 followers on Instagram. When did you first notice it was taking off, and why do you think it appeals to such a wide and diverse audience?
“It took off about six months after conception, and social media was a driving force in terms of spreading awareness about the blog. I think people love the blog because the concept is pure escapism. I mean, who doesn’t want to travel the world and test out the coolest hotels? I will say our readership has become more niche over the years, particularly as we define the blog’s values. We’re featuring more eco-tourism, remote locations, and Airbnbs, etc.”
What pieces of advice do you wish you could have given yourself early on in your career— about photography and/or about blogging?
“I’ve been on the same path in terms of being a photographer for the past ten years, but it’s only in the last four years or so that I’ve had the confidence to build my business passionately and aggressively. It had a lot to do with my own personal journey. If I could give myself advice all those years ago, it would be to ‘go with your gut feeling.’ Back yourself. And it’s okay to say “no.” If something doesn’t feel right, then it isn’t. I’d also tell myself to stick to my aesthetic; there’s no point trying to win jobs in genres that you’re no good at shooting. I get so much more work these days because my niche is clear to my clients.”
What were you looking for when you were building your website, and why did you choose Squarespace to help you do it?
“I have zero knowledge on how to build websites traditionally, and when I was starting the blog, there was no budget to allocate towards website design. Being a start-up, it was imperative that I had a platform that was functional and beautiful but also affordable. I committed to using Squarespace after a free trial because it was so easy to use, right down to purchasing domains and setting up email accounts. I was also building a site that was exactly what I envisioned for my brand, and I had just the right amount of control to change things where I wanted.”
What template did you choose?
“I played around with a few templates, but I ultimately went with Hayden. It’s simple and gives maximum amplification to the images and copy that we publish. It also really lends itself to making our content look like an online magazine rather than a typical blog.”
Is it easy to upload photos and add blog posts to your Squarespace site when you’re on the go?
“The app and the desktop site are both really functional. I primarily use the desktop site, and so long as I have a great wifi connection, I can run my businesses from anywhere in the world. In fact, I loved using Squarespace so much for the blog that within a few months of signing up, I moved my commercial website, www.rhiannontaylor.com, over to the platform too.”
How long did it take you to build your website?
“It literally took me one day to do it all. Of course, over the years, I’ve tweaked and refined things to make sure the site flows seamlessly. But initially, it took me hardly any time at all. Once I had picked a theme and settled on fonts, I just needed to upload content!
“I think the only time I’ve contacted Squarespace for help was in regards to moving emails over from external hosts. I’m really grateful for the support team for being so patient and helpful. I also love the Squarespace community because odds are that someone else out there has had the same query as you and has posted their solution to the issue on Squarespace’s website.”
What was the most rewarding part of building your our website using Squarespace, as opposed to hiring outside coders, designers, etc.?
“Obviously, it’s great to accomplish building a clean and beautiful website. But also as a business owner, your brand kind of feels like your baby. And I like that I’m completely in control of the site. It’s something that I fully operate and direct.”
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