Flying Into the Great Unknown with Molly Carr Photography
My most transformative travel experience happened when I was in my mid 20’s and quit my corporate marketing job to pursue my dreams. During the same timeframe, I began to feel an undeniable pull to explore the world, but due to circumstances at the time, I didn’t have anyone to travel with me. Initially I was resigned to the fact that it was a pipe dream, but little by little the idea began to grow and take form in my head until I could no longer ignore it. Although I didn’t know a single woman who had ever taken an extended international trip alone, something deep inside of my heart told me it was what I needed to do. So finally, after many restless nights, I booked a flight to Europe, and two weeks later was on an airplane flying into the great unknown.
My time traveling through Europe alone was even more incredible than anything I could have ever dreamt of. The memories of waking up in an unknown land, not knowing what the day would bring, the creative inspiration that seemed to overflow from within me – I felt like my heart was on fire and I somehow just knew, deep down in my core, that I would never be the same.
What has traveling taught you about yourself? About life?
I truly believe that travel is one of the most amazing ways to grow as a person. Being able to experience different cultures and see how people approach life is such an eye-opening experience and allows you to look at the world around you through a different lens. As a perpetually timid person, traveling has taught me that I am so much stronger and braver than I think. It has given me the courage to take risks, to put myself outside of my comfort zone, and most importantly to realize that I have the power inside of myself to do anything that I set my mind to.
How does traveling impact you as a creative?
I’m lucky in the fact that, for me, travel and photography are one in the same, and that my career as a destination wedding photographer has brought me to some of the most beautiful places on Earth. Waking up every day to a different sunrise inspires me to look at every day, every experience, and every love story with a sense of wonder, and I believe that shows through in my work for each and every one of my clients.
What do you find inspires you when you travel?
I’ve always been incredibly sensitive to the energy and aesthetics of my surroundings, and being in a new place - whether it’s a grand European palace or a quiet mountain retreat - amplifies that experience for me so much more. While traveling, I seem to find inspiration everywhere I turn. I’m always snapping photos of fabrics and wallcoverings, light fixtures, and furniture for interior and styling inspiration. Art, whether classical, impressionist, or contemporary, is where I often turn when I’m seeking new ideas for my wedding photography work. Even a destination’s light and color palette is a huge inspiration for me.
On a personal level, having the opportunity to see how people in different parts of the world connect with each other and their surroundings has really given me a new perspective on how I lead my day-to-day life and inspired me to place a higher value on enjoying life’s little pleasures - whether that means taking the time to cook myself a nice lunch rather than just grabbing something on the go, opening a good bottle of wine on a weeknight just because, or taking the afternoon off work to explore a new wing of an art museum. Traveling has made me truly appreciate each and every day and to celebrate and savor the moments, both big and small, as they are truly what matters most.
What are some of your favorite places that you have visited?
Paris has always and will always be my favorite city in the world. From the grand architecture to the elegant color palette to the incredible cuisine to the art and music, my love affair with Paris continues to grow every time I visit. My husband and I spent three weeks traveling through Thailand, and I found the entire experience to be a feast for the eyes, mind, body, and senses. I also find myself continuing to return to Italy every year - Italians truly exemplify what it means to live ‘la dolce vita’ and I will never tire of the rolling vistas of Tuscany, the grand villas of Lake Como, and the incredible art (and food) of Florence!
Is there a moment that's been frozen in time from your travels? Why do you believe it's stood out to you?
Last year my husband and I were in the village of Étretat on the coast of Normandy, France. Initially, we had planned on dining at the famous Dormy House, but when the grey clouds (typical of Normandy) started to part, we decided to throw our plans into the wind and instead, hike up to the famed cliffside chapel for a sunset picnic. We literally ran to the last market open and picked up a baguette, a wedge of Camembert, some fruit, and a bottle of chilled champagne, and began the climb up Normandy’s famous white chalk cliffs to Chapelle Notre Dame de la Garde.
Completely alone except for the occasional seagull and grazing cow in the distance, we drank champagne from the bottle while watching in amazement as the sun illuminated the sky, sea, and cliffs to the most ethereal golden-pink hue we had ever laid eyes on. We sat on the cliff for hours, until the very last bit of light dissipated and turned the sky into an inky shade of blue. Sublimely humbled by the beauty of our world, it was one of those rare instances where we were acutely aware of the fact that we were in the middle of a moment that would live on in our hearts forever.
What would you say to someone who has a desire to travel, but something may be holding them back?
My advice is to simply take the plunge, as nine times out of ten, the ideas that scare us are usually the ones most worthwhile. As humans, we are so much stronger and more independent than we believe. I am confident that every single person has the ability and the courage to travel the world if they just give themselves the opportunity. And in the words of the great Mark Twain, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails.”
Photographs by Molly Carr Photography