Although Hannah Rheaume (@hannahrheaume) is classified as an influencer, she’s never really seen herself that way. She just fell in love with travel and used content creation as her way of incorporating travel into her daily life. Over nearly a decade of this career, she’s had many unique experiences and has truly found her creative voice. We sat down with Hannah to learn about her journey, how she’s built a community of women passionate about the outdoors, how she achieves her creative vision and how to tune out the noise and find new sources of inspiration.
Product Preview – In This Article You'll Find:
–Sony Alpha 7R V
–Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 G Master II
–Sony 24mm f/2.8 G
–Sony 16-35mm f/2.8 G Master
–Sony 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 G Master
Photo by Hannah Rheaume. Sony Alpha 7R V. Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 G Master II. 1/320-sec., f/2.8, ISO 500
Career Snapshot: Taking A Chance
Growing up, Hannah’s mom was into photography and she took a black and white photography class in high school, but she wasn’t especially taken with the hobby. When she got to college, she majored in communications and then got a job in public relations. As she moved into the post-grad world and had her first full-time job, she began to realize that PR might not be for her. Though there are opportunities to be creative in PR, Hannah found that her work wasn’t fueling her creative fire in a way she needed.
Around the same time, she entered an Instagram contest to travel across the world with a complete stranger…and she won that contest! She ended up traveling to Hong Kong and Thailand with this stranger-turned-new-friend. During that trip, Hannah saw how her friend was making images and documenting their adventures. Suddenly, a light went off for Hannah – she knew this was what she wanted to pursue. Though, how to make that happen was still unclear.
Photo by Hannah Rheaume. Sony Alpha 7R V. Sony 16-35mm f/2.8 G Master. 1/3200-sec., f/2.8, ISO 800
That was in 2016, and since then, she’s been in front of and behind the camera nearly every day. She planned another trip, this time to Indonesia, with the same friend. When she came back, she was even more validated in her idea that she needed to make travel a part of her daily life. “I felt this innate calling to create this life for myself.”
Women & The Wilderness: Building A Community
For Hannah, things were going great. She had built this life as a nomadic content creator and was able to incorporate her love of photography, travel and making connections. Then, 2020 rolled around and things changed a lot. “I was literally traveling three weeks out of the month internationally and domestically and when COVID hit, I had just returned from a trip to bam: everything paused. I had no idea what I was going to do.”
She continues, “The only thing I could think of was traveling locally. I lived in Maine at the time and most places were still shut down, but I’ve always loved the outdoors, being outside, hiking and just being in nature. But I think that time I was just needing to satiate this curiosity I had that was no longer being satiated by travel. So I turned to the outdoors and I ended up hiking a ton that spring and summer of 2020 and I wanted to create this community for women where they could come and be encouraged to go outside alone or with a group of girlfriends or whatever.”
Photo by Hannah Rheaume. Sony Alpha 7R V. Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 G Master II. 1/80-sec., f/5, ISO 2000
This nugget of an idea is where Hannah’s online community, Women & The Wilderness was born. Through a blog and a podcast women can be inspired, connect with one another, learn more about how to spend time in nature, and ultimately how to seek adventure however that might look for them. “I didn’t see this resource anywhere and I thought, ‘If I don’t see this happening, why don’t I create it?’”
What Success Looks Like
There’s no question that Hannah is a successful creator. She’s been able to achieve her goal of traveling almost full-time while creating content and a community along the way. As she reflects on her journey, our conversation led to the idea of success. Hannah explained that this past year, she feels the most proud of the content she has created. She says she has finally found her artistic style and feels good about sharing it.
“There's been so much growth,” she explains. “I think back to those times, even that first trip in 2016 and then the ones that followed after, and I had no idea what I was doing. I ended up just doing it and through the last however many years – it’s been almost a decade which is absolutely insane – I've learned so much and I've grown so much. I feel like finally this year is when I've really hit that feeling that I'm super proud of what I'm putting out there, and super proud and confident in myself when I'm behind a camera.”
Hannah also discusses how success can look like so many different things. “Outwardly, it can look like a lot of followers on social media, but I feel like there’s this inward battle of, ‘Yeah, you have a community, but are you passionate about what you’re putting out there as a creative?’”
Hannah goes on to reflect on social media algorithms and how they can dictate your work. She says that she has finally let go a little bit of the idea that she needs to amass viewers and likes on Instagram. “Of course I’m always going to worry about likes, that’s just the nature of the work. But I’m also feeling this freedom to let go of caring a bit and just embodying my work and creative vision and just really letting that fly.”
Content Creation & The Gear That Helps Her Create
Hannah creates a ton of content. She’s sharing work, thoughts and ideas via Instagram, her blog, her podcast and her YouTube channel. She has found that different stories lend themselves to different types of content and platforms. “Interestingly enough I really love YouTube. I love long form videos, and I love cinema. I love moving imagery – it just takes you into an experience. YouTube is another thing on the list for this year.” Hannah hasn’t posted a ton on her YouTube just yet, but she has big plans for 2024.
She has found the podcast to be the place where she can have deep, intimate conversations with inspiring women. Hannah explains that she thinks the lack of video allows people to open up more and be more vulnerable. “I feel like the podcast is a really safe space for a lot of people to come and share their story and it honestly fires me up because I feel so much passion from these conversations.”
Instagram is where she has her largest audience and is her main place to share content. She loves that she gets to play with video and fast-paced storytelling. Plus, she gets to share images, her first love. “I can reach a larger audience and I can share a bunch of short stories from the road.”
For all this content creation, Hannah needs gear that she can rely on. Originally, she shot on Nikon but after a while, she felt she had reached a plateau in her work and creativity. The people she looked up to were all shooting Sony and she was really drawn to the versatility of being able to shoot amazing photos and videos. Today, Hannah’s kit is made up of the Sony Alpha 7R V, Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 G Master II, Sony 24mm f/2.8 G, Sony 16-35mm f/2.8 G Master and the Sony 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 G Master. “I think I’m shooting some of the most incredible images on this gear. I look back on photos and videos from when I was shooting on Nikon and I can see that the quality of my work now is so much more exceptional.”
When Hannah is traveling, she doesn’t want to miss a moment. She needs to be able to capture as much content as possible. So she has built custom buttons that can switch her Sony Alpha 7R V from photo settings to video settings and back. That way she can switch back and forth quickly and easily. “It's just been the perfect tool for me to compose and create images and videos that I'm super stoked about. I can just know that I'll put the settings to what I need them to be and what I get is going to be the best quality work I've ever gotten out of a system before. I also love the Electronic Viewfinder. It’s honestly so amazing to actually look at the image that you’re creating. It’s so helpful.”
Often, Hannah is traveling alone and needs to make images of herself. To do this, she relies on a tripod, self-timer, and an incredible autofocus system. “It’s really freeing to be able to know that I can do this on my own. I don’t need anyone else. I have a Sony that is freaking incredible and I have my creative vision that I’m able to execute solo. And that self-reliance is so freeing.”
Looking Ahead & Lessons Learned
Looking at her journey from a birds-eye view, Hannah is excited to be able to see her growth. She is proud of where she is now and looking forward to what she has planned moving forward. In fact, she’s even grateful for where started. “I think that without those years of photos that I look back on and thought, ‘What was I doing here? How was I editing this?’ Without those photos from the beginning I wouldn't be where I am today. I wouldn't have this eye, I wouldn't have this idea of what I want to photograph.” Hannah loves to look back at what she calls her “cringey” photos – she knows she was trying to emulate something or someone and not staying true to her own artistic eye.
Photo by Hannah Rheaume. Sony Alpha 7R V. Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 G Master II. 1/400-sec., f/2.8, ISO 250
In a world dominated by Instagram and TikTok, Hannah looks outside of social media for inspiration and for visual ideas that will stand out against the noise. Films and cinema are major sources of creative inspiration for her and she also loves to look at print magazines. “As much as I love social media and find it a source of inspiration, it can also be a source of just copy and pasting and replicating, especially with trends," she says. "So this ability to step away from that copy and paste type mentality is really freeing. I think just owning your own creative vision and not necessarily listening to all the outside noise that we're constantly bombarded with is something I've learned over the last, almost decade of shooting. I really do try to be intentional with where I’m pulling inspiration from because it’s easy to replicate, but it’s not easy to be a thought leader and to have your own take on a place." In the end, that effort pays off, because that's how you take your own path and stand out from the endless scroll.