A dream is never too late to chase, at least according to Gold Coast photographer Marc Llewellyn.
This is one man (and one story) to truly admire. With photography and travel always at the backbone of his life, it was after 8 years service at his secure 9-5 marketing job Marc decided to commit, owing it to himself to pack up ship and chase his dreams once and for all. The 34 year old from Burleigh Heads since has traded his keyboard for a camera, spending his time capturing jaw dropping moments around the globe, taking in new experiences, meeting new faces and clocking up endless stamps in his passport. From Indonesia to India, Sri Lanka to Africa, Europe and beyond, Marc’s commitment is a gentle reminder of regardless of where you are in life and what you are doing, it’s never too late to chase passion, happiness and a life of your own fulfilment.
“The prospect of letting go of a secure income, routine and all these other norms which society tells us we should aspire to was a terrifying prospect.”
Read on for our exclusive chat with Marc as we learn more about this huge life change and commitment, how he got to where he is, what’s to come next and much, much more.
Warning: This piece could encourage some to drop everything, pack a bag, book a flight and chase their dreams!
Give us a quick overview of who you are and what you are about.
Marc Llewellyn. 34 years young. Currently living out an early mid-life crisis by quitting my 9-5’er to seize the opportunity of chasing my dream, travelling the world, photo-documenting cultures, landscapes and wildlife.
What were you doing before you started travelling the globe?
Before I packed up my life, I was marketing manager for the great brand that is Rhythm. An absolute dream job for my eight years there. It was a seamless fit working for a brand that I aligned with so much. I was fortunate to be working with some of my closest friends in an office just down the road from my house in Burleigh Heads. As far as desk jobs go, it would be hard to beat that gig.
Tell us about first making the decision to leave Rhythm to chase your passions and dreams. How long was it in the works for?
That was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make. For one, Rhythm was my home and my family. It was a company I loved and a position I’d wanted for so long. However, photography and travel has always been a passion of mine and it was a great time in my life to really roll the dice and take a risk. The prospect of letting go of a secure income, routine and all these other norms which society tells us we should aspire to was a terrifying prospect. It probably took me a year to figure out what I wanted and commit to parting ways with Rhythm.
After eight years that's a huge leap! Talk us through the emotions of going through such a big life change?
Far out, it was a fruit salad of emotions. Everything from betrayal, anxiety, fear, excitement, etc. Being 33 and voluntarily leaving the workforce conjured up all sorts of brain melting, gut-wrenching feelings but I think it’s ultimately going to be a super positive experience for me to take ownership of my future.
Where have you been so far? Give us a rundown on some of the highlights.
Ahhh it’s been an unbelievable year so far. It kicked off with fellow photographer, John Barton (@johnnyjungle), on a 5 day trek in remote Mentawai Islands to stay with and photograph the Sikerei People of Pulau Siberut. The Sikerei are a traditional Mentawai shaman who still live authentically as their ancestors did. Heavily tattooed and donning loin cloths, they embody a deep spiritual connection with the earth around them.
From there I moved onto northern India where I rode a old Royal Enfield motorcycle over 3000km’s around Rajasthan and the lower regions of the Himalayas. This was a tough trip. Don’t get me wrong, there is magic to be seen in India. It happens everyday. Something will blow your mind, whether it be in a positive or negative way. However, for me, those moments of magic where buried deep within a cloud of challenges which eventually broke me down and made me change my plans.
Enter Sri Lanka, my unexpected reprieve from the chaos of India. Instantly the vibe was less intrusive, relaxed and the geography was far more diverse than I expected. Dramatic mountains carved out with tea plantations, safari parks abundant in wildlife and tropical beaches boasting fun waves, fresh fish and super friendly locals.
Throughout April & May I was based back in the Mentawai Islands. This was my fourth time there, and I’m continually taken back by the incredible waves, unspoiled islands, and beautiful culture of the local island people. My reason for being there was to work as a surf-guide and photographer with a land-based camp called Pitstop Hill on the island of Pulau Masokut. My days revolved around assessing the surf conditions, taking guests to the most appropriate waves, navigating for boat drivers, snorkelling, fishing, and coordinating local village visits to build awareness of the communities in the area. An absolute dream gig and an amazing opportunity to clock up some good surf time for the year.
From the tropics of Indonesia, I flew across the Indian Ocean to Namibia, a country that I’ve wanted to visit and photograph for a few years. With 2018 being a year of letting go of the 9-5 and tackling adventures that the desk-life couldn’t afford to me, it was my time to strike. From the South to the North, everything about Namibia blew my mind. From the unbelievably friendly locals, unfathomable and ever-changing landscapes, incredible wildlife, unchanged minority cultures and world-class surfing all achieved whilst self-driving in a rooftop camper. Everybody needs to visit this incredible country!
This brings us to where I am now, south-west France. Giving myself a chance to sit still for a while, process all of what I’ve accumulated over the past 6 months and figure out how to monetise this new career shift. I have a lot of creative friends in this part of the world so it’s always a motivating place to come and brainstorm. The insane food, 16 hour days, fun waves, access to the Pyrenees mountains and summer atmosphere aren’t too bad either. Summer in Europe is never going to get old!
Incredible! You’ve covered so much, yet there still seems to be that healthy balance of work (if you were to call it that) and waves? For sure. The destinations I’ve travelled to which lend themselves to surfing have been incredible. And on the flip side, those destinations which are more about minority cultures and wildlife have blown my mind just as much. At the moment, I’m just grinding it out, collecting images, working on the portfolio and networking where I can to hopefully make a break which will sustain this new career direction.
Walk us through your tools of the trade that are keeping this adventure alive.
Because I’m basically backpacking, I’ve had to keep the gear pretty light. Canon 5D mkIV DSLR camera, Canon 24-70mm f2.8, Canon 15mm f2.8 fisheye, Tamron 70-200mm f2.8, Canon 100-400mm f4, DJI Mavic Pro drone, Liquid Eye water housing, Aus + British passport, a loose sense of direction, a hunger to get out of my comfort zone and experience what this world has to offer.
Who do you roll with on each new leg of the trip? Solo or with the same crew, or different each time?
For the most part, this has been a solo journey, with the exception of Johnny Barton on Pulau Siberut. I really enjoy travelling by myself. It forces you to get out of the comfort zone which more often than not leads to some pretty incredible experiences. You also absorb so much more and can take your time to really fulfil what you’re setting out to achieve.
Are you hoping to live the dream for the rest of your life, or is returning to the Gold Coast playing in the back of your mind?
Who doesn’t want to try and live the dream for the rest of their lives? My passion definitely lies with cultural and travel photo-documentary, so I owe it to myself to give that a red-hot go. Whilst that fire is burning, I’ll try and keep this transient lifestyle trucking forward and chip away at turning this new direction into a viable career. Burleigh Heads will always be my home, but for now, I’m open to anything!