Photo by Jon Gaffney
Last year, photographer and blogger Gale Straub quit her day job as an accountant and hit the road with her boyfriend in their retrofitted sprinter van. With camera in hand - and a few ideas she wanted to write about - Gale created her site She-Explores. It quickly gained popularity as a source of inspiration for the outdoors/creative woman, and the community of fans continues to grow. We had the opportunity to chat with Gale about this past year's adventures, what inspired her to shake things up and take a risk, and some new challenges she has planned for herself.
We've got lots of questions but before we get ahead of ourselves, where are you from and what was your favorite activity as a kid?
I grew up in Barnstead, New Hampshire. It's a small, rural town - I think it just got its first stoplight. As a kid, I most enjoyed creating a community of toys with my twin sister, Laura. We clung on to childhood as tightly as we could! I don't have any regrets - you only get one childhood.
You are an incredible photographer - but you’re career wasn’t always behind the lens. What is your background and what drew you to the camera?
I have a history of being confused. I was a psychology major as an undergrad and graduated just before the market crashed in 2008. I felt a bit lost so I got my masters in accounting for stability (and the problem solving, which is fun). I worked in public and private accounting for four years. Photography has been a constant through it all, an escape of sorts.
Photo by Gale Straub
Last year you left that behind, retrofitted a sprinter van, and hit the road. What inspired the change of pace?
My boyfriend, Jon, and I had dated for a year before discussing a long-term road trip. I'd contemplated work abroad but realized it would be the same work in a new place. Jon suggested building out a van and traveling the country. That fit - the timing was right. We have no kids, no house, and no true ties to one place. I was excited about having the time to take on creative projects and put a beating on my camera. At first it felt like an abstract personal challenge to save money for over a year and leave Boston. Then when I broke the news at work and packed up all my belongings, it was suddenly real.
When you started on your new adventure, you also founded your site She-Explores. It has already become a strong community for women who are active in the outdoors, and in such a short time!
After working a corporate job for several years, I knew I would have a lot of time on my hands while traveling the country. I wanted to use that time well, so I decided to start a site that incorporated many of my interests (the outdoors and art) but allowed others to share their stories. I'd been active on some social media platforms in the past, but I didn't always find it fulfilling or easy to share in a meaningful way. I thought about the kind of site I would want to share my photography and/or writing on, and decided to build it.
Photo by Gale Straub
How would you describe the She-Explores woman in your own words? Is she Living Major?
The She-Explores woman is definitely Living Major - whether she's rediscovering her hometown or watching the country blur by out the driver's window. She's interested in color, fresh air, and finding beauty in the every day. She's also not really worried if she gets sore legs or a little dirty discovering the world.
Are there new challenges you have in mind for this coming year?
Personally, I want to learn the basics of watercolor and video (two very different things!). I've taken so many photos over the past year that I'm a little fried and want some new challenges. For She-Explores, I want to continue to hone in on content that speaks to the reader and to me.
You write some great gear reviews on the site. What are a few essentials you can't live without when you're on the road?
-Camera of any sort (though I use a Canon 6D with a 50mm 1.4 lens most often)
-GORUCK Backpack - It's the perfect size for a day hike or slipping my laptop in for serious coffee shop time. It helps that it's super tough, too. I tend to rough up the things I love the most!
-Ecco BIOM Terrain Hiking Boots - These are really flexible and necessary for impromptu excursions.
-iPhone - Sure, we could go without, but there are so many apps that are helpful for camping, news, and directions, that it just makes life easier on the road.