Based in Charlotte, North Carolina. Andrew W. McElroy Is a Writer who is Exploring the world through stories and lenses.

Documenting Adventures | Adventure

Documenting Adventures | Adventure

Whether it is exploring a new town or backpacking through the mountains, documenting adventure is something we love to share. On Instagram alone there is over 54 million photos tagged with #adventure. Clearly we love sharing and documenting our adventures.

However, have you ever gotten home and realized your photos are not that great? Have you been sharing your adventure with someone and realize that your story does not equal the experience? This is a constant struggle even for an adventure photographer and blogger. I struggle with deciding the best way to share my adventures. It is hard to create a story through photos and a blog without the loss of the story. That is why I am always encouraging others to create their own adventure. 

This blog is focused on helping you document and tell the story of your adventure. This is not about the technicality of things but instead about concepts to consider.

Snapping that shot

Being able to snap that perfect shot is something that comes easier to some and harder to others. Here are a few things I do to ensure I find and capture the perfect shot to share.

Why do you want to share?

This seems extremely straight forward, but it is often overlooked or shrugged off. We will be tempted to answer this by saying "because it's awesome!". But that is not deep enough. Is it the colors of the sky that leave you in awe, is it your friends and their laughter, is it the peacefulness or the chaos? Figure out why this moment is special, and keep that in mind.

What is your subject?

Baylor overlooking Pisgah National Forest

Baylor overlooking Pisgah National Forest

Use the answer to your first one to determine this. Is it the mountains with a sunset behind them or is it your friend standing beside you? When you share this story, who or what will you be sharing the most details about? Go ahead and frame a shot, use your subject in the foreground or background. Use your subject as an element of your photo that shares a story. As you can see to the right, this is a photo of my friend Baylor. I use him as a subject anytime we go hiking. First, because he is one of my favorite friends that I go backpacking and hiking with. Secondly, because no matter how many sunrises, sunsets, or vistas he has seen he always is in awe of what is before him. For me that is deep.

What does your subject tell about your story?

For the photo of Baylor it tells a lot of different things. We had just finished a 27 mile backpacking trip in terribly cold weather. However, the lesson we both got from this trip was not how miserable backpacking in the early spring was, but how powerful nature is. By the time I captured that shot we both were glad to be off the trail and both contemplating how awesome it was.

Sharing the Tale

This is the second part of documenting any great adventure. How do you share it with others? How do you remember the most important details and tell them without being obscure? When I first started sharing the stories of my adventures, I had a lot of trouble giving the important details. I never felt like my story gave it justice. I have learned though that practice and note-taking helps you with processing and sharing.

Photo by  Helloquence  on  Unsplash

Photo by Helloquence on Unsplash


Taking notes of your adventures looks different for everyone. I usually jot down my feelings, the bad, the best, and people's names that we meet. I do this because I have a hard time remembering names. This might be a short list or a couple pages. I also have looked at other great explorers and adventurers for ideas on how best to share the story. There are two people that stand out in the way they share the mundane and the beauty of every trip. (Fair Warning: they can be very mundane, this is more for self-journaling and not Instagram!) Henry David Thoreau and John Muir wrote beautifully worded and thoughtful dialogues of their trips. You can look these up and consider elements that you can use for your own documenting.

The take-away however is to buy a small pocket journal and write down the bad, the best, and the thoughts while on the adventure to remember the details that impacted you. 

Sit down and write it up

This is where your creative side and documenting side combine. Sit down and write about your adventure for me this works best a day or two after. That time frame depends on you. Write down things you learned, mistakes that happened, the bads and the bests. Write it creatively or thought for thought. Don't be afraid to highlight or bullet different things to make those things stand out. This is your time to write and share the story. For many of my adventures, I don't share these writings but for some I do. I almost always take a concept or quote from my writing and use it as the caption for photos as well. This way I am killing two birds with one stone.

Document your Adventures

Wherever you find yourself adventuring, take these tips and capture it. Think about what you want to share with others and things you want to remember 20 years down the road. This is your adventure and your story to share. Create your adventure today.


Labeled - A Haiti Story | Adventure

Labeled - A Haiti Story | Adventure

Sydney "Blissful" Ross | Interview

Sydney "Blissful" Ross | Interview