We stumbled into the adventures of Gale via one of those untraceable late night instagram rabbit holes and have been living vicariously through her travels ever since. When we decided to focus our Creative Community features on individuals who excel at working with other people, we immediately thought of Gale. She is an explorer, designer, photographer; the creator and curator of the wildly popular website She-Explores which celebrates other women on the road. Gale has been an incredible resource and encouragement for our single-topic nature journal, STUDY. One of our favorite virtual friends whom we hope to meet in person one day soon.
Tell us a little about yourself and your creative endeavor.
Like most kids, I had a little plastic film camera for acting the tourist and catching my siblings in awkward scenarios. In undergrad, I graduated to an SLR and long hours in the darkroom. Since then, photography has been my outlet and mild obsession. It keeps me company and up to this point, it’s all for fun. She-Explores is a website I started for inquisitive women with a love of the outdoors, an eye for landscape, and the urge to travel (near and far from home). It’s an opportunity to share your work with like-minded women.
When did you first begin collaborating and what made you want to do it again?
I’d previously always worked independently - I love landscape photography, which lends itself to solo endeavors. A few years ago, I started sharing photos on a popular social media site but it felt hard to reach people in a meaningful way. When my boyfriend and I decided to take a long-term road trip, I felt it was the perfect opportunity to build a collaborative place online where women can share their hikes, travels, and creative work. In seven months, I’ve had over 80 women contribute photo essays, write reviews, and/or agree to be interviewed.
What's been your favorite project?
Although the “Women on the Road” portion of She-Explores is the most popular, I’ve most enjoyed curating the Artistry section. There you’ll find all levels of expertise from enthusiastic artists. I say a little about them and their aesthetic, they tell us a bit about themselves and share pieces of work. It’s fun to go beyond the easy “like” button.
What does your daily schedule look like?
At the moment, I’m road tripping through the United States, so my daily schedule is a little all over the place. I’m watching the highway go by as I write. Here are some constants: morning coffee, bad hair, hiking, email maintenance, She-Explores buildout & curation in the afternoon. My boyfriend and I also run a digital marketing company, so that work takes up much of the day as well.
We're always interested in the balance of personal life and creative work. How do you manage time for all the important things and people in your life?
I’ve always prioritized family and creative work, even when I worked a 9-5 job in Boston. Since leaving that job, my life often feels like an accumulation of “found time.” For the most part, I’m able to pursue my interests and support others in their pursuit. Even when life gets busy, the important things shake themselves out. The balance between consulting, She-Explores, my own work, and family is always changing - all about prioritizing.
Was there ever a point in your venture when you wanted to throw in the towel? Can you describe how you overcame that time and kept going?
I feel that way every time my email is backed up and I can’t get women the personal responses they deserve. Limited wifi time means I’m often just working on the top of my to-do list. When someone thanks me for compiling their work in a meaningful way, or inspiring them to make a big life change - that’s when I know I won’t stop anytime soon.
What's your favorite thing about working with 80+ women?
They’re always surprising me!
What's your favorite thing in or about your studio and why? (this can be a decoration/natural light, etc.)
For now, my “studio” is our van and coffeeshops and the outdoors. While I love that it’s malleable and fussy, I’m looking forward to creating a space of my own when we slow down.
Two are better than one because...
You support each other.
What is your best way to relieve stress?
I take a walk with my camera. Its familiar weight bumping against my hip, fresh air, new landscape - all of a sudden I’m more focused, relaxed, and inspired.
How do you kick an afternoon slump?
I change direction. There’s always something new to tackle.
How do you take your coffee or tea?
Coffee with milk. I love it so strong that I can’t finish a mug. A little sweet on the side.
photos of Gale by Jon Gaffney ; other images courtesy of Gale Straub