Adventurer of the Month: Emily Ballmaier


Adventurer Of The Month

– Emily Ballmaier –

Instagram // Website


1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. We want to get to know you!

Hi! My name is Emily Ballmaier. I’m a 22-year-old Southern California transplant living and working in Portland, OR. I moved to Portland about 8 months ago and it was the best decision I’ve ever made. After I visited once I fell in love with the atmosphere and knew I had to move here. Before moving to Portland, though, I went to Biola University and graduated in 2015 with a degree in Public Relations. I currently work as a community manager at a social media agency called Laundry Service.

Some other things you should probably know about me: I love to read and write. I drink copious amounts of coffee. I enjoy adventure and lifestyle photography. I love when creativity strikes and I can make something I’m proud of. And I’m a little too obsessed with dogs.


2) We love seeing photos of your adventures. How did it all start for you?

I kind of picked of photography by mistake. In college I made the choice be more intentional with my Instagram by taking the time to put more thought into the types of photos I was taking, how I was editing and what I was posting. After meeting some people through the app and getting a little more into photography, I eventually received my first DSLR for Christmas and it just kind of went on from there. I started shooting more, meeting a ton of other incredible photographers, many of whom are some of my closest friends today, and going on trips, documenting everything on the way. There was something really special about going places, catching a sunrise or capturing a mountainscape that made you really appreciate the beauty of the world.

3) Do you have a favorite trip? And if so, what makes it so special?

I have so many favorites it makes it hard to choose. My friends and I would do day trips to Yosemite or Big Sur from LA. We were pretty hardcore, driving through the night to catch sunrise. We would spend the whole day there and turn around after sunset to head back home. Those trips were exhausting but always so worth it. Packing so much beauty into one day, spending time with the people you love, and making unforgettable memories. It sounds so cheesy but it’s so true. It’s those experiences you hold on to the most.

4) You capture the world so beautifully. Do you have any tips on taking and editing photos?

I think the most important tip that I could give, as far as shooting goes, is to take photos of everything and anything that inspires you. Adventure photography trained my eyes to see the world as a photograph. Anything can become an image – shadows of light on the wall, flowers hanging off a house, truly anything. Practice by looking for small moments to capture. It will help you capture the big. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, either. Look things up online – the internet is honestly a great source for learning some of the technical stuff that can be tricky. And do it because it’s something you enjoy, not because it’s something everyone else is doing. Once you start doing it for other people, the joy of capturing moments begins to become lackluster because you’re always worried of what other people might think. Take photos and show photos of what you love. People like what other people are passionate about. If you like it, share it.

5) What was the first trip you took?

I traveled a lot as a kid both within the US and internationally. I grew up going camping every summer. My family and I would drive up the coast to Big Sur or Monterey and stay for the week. We would go on road trips or fly to visit family. So I really think I got the travel bug from my parents.

The first real trip I took after I got into photography, though, might be one of my favorites. My sister and I met up with our friend in SLO, where we drove to Yosemite for the day. It was the first time I had every been and it was complete magic. It was December so the whole valley was dusted with snow, thick with fog and strewn with green and golden trees. It really took my breath away and sparked the need to travel places and capture the beauty around me. Driving around the park with good music, conversation and company- it was so soul fulfilling. I won’t forget how I felt on that trip.

6) What have you learned along the way, as you’ve explored different places?

I think the best thing I’ve learned after all my travels is truly how much beauty there is in this world and how important it is to take it all in. I always feel more refreshed and inspired after coming home from a trip. Being in nature kind of resets everything. I’ve learned to stop and appreciate moments- to really take it all in. Taking photos is fun and it’s always nice to have tangible memories to look back on, but you can never quite capture how brilliant the sunrise looks, with all its colors in a photograph. I think that’s one of the best things I’ve learned: The world is so beautiful, too beautiful even, that it cannot be captured on a camera. You must sit in the silence, abiding in your surroundings and mentally note everything around you to truly appreciate the moment before it’s gone.

7) Do you collect any souvenirs from the places you visit?

I love dried and pressed wildflowers. I frame them and hang them in my room and I have a few small bouquets in my car. They’re always such great reminders of the places I’ve been. And they’re so pretty to look at.

8) What makes your heart beat? What do you really believe in, stand for, and want to tell others about?

Moments. People. Jesus. Hearing and learning from others. I believe everyone wants and needs to be heard. They want to know that they are taken care of, that they will be ok. We all want to be rooted for -words of affirmation are huge for me. I want others to know that all of the tough stuff is worth it in the end. That you just have to keep moving forward. Even when it seems impossible, you have to keep going. The second you tell yourself you can’t do it, you won’t be able to. Believe in yourself. I believe in the good. That good is still winning and will continue to win despite all the evil in this world. Never stop fighting for the good. I believe in the importance and necessity of really good relationships. Find your people. Find the ones that are going to push you, encourage you and listen to you. Find the people that will help you create the moments that make life worth it. And most importantly, don’t forget to stop and look up at the sky every once in a while, breath in and remember that you are so alive.

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