I find it endlessly interesting to find out what people love – what inspires them – drives them and what feels like home. Everyone has a wonderfully different way of experiencing the world. I recently asked Sydney based surf photographer John Respondek a few questions…
Jessica : How long have you been a surf photographer?
John: Umm… about 15 years now.
Jessica: What inspired you to pursue it as a career?
John: I have been a surfer since i was very young and then got into photography in high school… so it was just a natural progression to mix them up.
Jessica: What is it about surfing that you love the most?
John: Thats tough. There are some many good things. But just simply being around and in the the ocean is best. And then surfing in it is so thrilling.
Jessica: What has been the highlight of your career so far?
John: I couldn’t really say there’s one highlight. Just the ongoing fun travel adventures are all highlights.
Jessica: Who inspires you the most and why?
John: I really couldn’t say a couple of names that inspire me. Its always changing. It depends on where I am, who Im with, what I’m doing. Etc. I am inspired daily by different people for different things.
Jessica: What does home mean to you?
John: Home is the best. You really learn and appreciate that when you spend so much time on the road.
Jessica: Where is your favourite place in the world?
John: Australia is the best country in the world… but other than that I love Fiji and Indonesia. For hanging, surfing and shooting.
You can see more of Johns beautiful photography on instagram.
Who do you find inspiring wanderlusters? Let me know – I’d love to ask them a few questions too.
People will forget what you do but the never forget how you make them feel.
Note to the wanderlusting reader… This is something I wrote a long time ago – I had to remove it from here for personal reasons – but it’s an important piece for me and I really needed to share it. I hope you enjoy this post as much as I enjoyed writing it.
My thoughts have been continuously occupied by someone for months. They most probably have absolutely zero idea about it either. It’s like a high school crush magnified by a zillion billions. I’ve been daydreaming and night dreaming and can’t seem to make it stop. I’m not even certain that I want to. I don’t think it’s healthy to be so completely smitten from a completely unsustainable distance. My heart is aching and breaking and swelling up to the size of the sun all at once.
They have inspired me – asked me about my passions and what makes me tick. Helped me to realise my own potential and re-focus my aim and put myself first. Their dedication to their own passion was inspiring. Their philosophy on life was the most incredible aphrodisiac and their morals just beautiful.
When we first met I originally thought – way out of my league but was quickly slapped across the face by my best friend who said there’s no one out of my league ( but she would say that because she loves me).
What feels so ridiculous about this whole situation is that we really didn’t spent that much time together in the scheme of things. But I guess we always remember the how people make us feel and especially those that make us believe in our own worth.
So thank you – I endeavor to inspire others the way that you’ve inspired me.
Recently my whole world has been turned upside down. Everything I knew is suddenly gone. it’s been tough – very tough. But through this I’ve learnt that I am stronger than I thought – more resilient – and I deserve happiness.
Some of it shocked me – I had no idea it was coming. Some of it I instigated myself – and it was long overdue. But knowing that something is ending doesn’t ever make it easier to deal with. We have these ideas about who we are and what we are – and those are challenged and criticised not only by the people around us but by ourselves. We can be our own harshest critics – I know I certainly am.
Change can be painful and uncomfortable – the fear of the unknown can be paralysing – what to do next? Where do I go from here? With change – comes opportunity. You can reinvent yourself – find new meaning in the chaos of it all – dream new dreams – chase those dreams – become inspired and motivated all over again.
This has been one of the hardest and most daunting times of my life – but I am grateful. I am grateful for this opportunity to learn and grow – to move forward and to take charge of what I lost control of. I have learnt to put myself first – that fear is normal – that people are not always as good as you hope they are – that I trust myself – and above all else I deserve to be happy.
This period of change certainly isn’t comparable to a holiday at the moment – but I’m sure i’ll look back on this time in my life and see all that has come from it.
Sending love wanderlusters – you’ll be hearing from me again soon. Until then you can tweet me @JessicasWander.
Sometimes you just have to go with it.
Enjoy the moment…
One sunny day in London Drew and I went off to explore some street art.
It was a Saturday and neither of us had any plans – which was a nice change.
So off we went on a little adventure – this is just the tip of a very large iceberg that is London street art…
What and where is your favourite street art?
I was staying with my friend in her Clapham apartment. I’d only just arrived in London and I was spending my days and nights looking for flats and jobs and daydreaming of adventure. I spotted a Facebook post from Rebecca Litchfield. She was upset because the model that she’d booked for the job had pulled out at the last minute. I messaged her immediately and she said she’d love to have me involved. We’d both been wanting to work together for a while so it was almost like it was meant to be.
I met Rebecca at Clapham Junction and we caught the train out to a station nearby the manor house we would be shooting in the next morning. Matt and Richie met us at the train station. It was the first time Rebecca had met either of them but they all knew each other from urbex forums. We did the standard introductions and then we were off. It was only a short 15 minute drive to Bull Manor. We weren’t technically meant to be there so we parked the car around the corner and then under the cover of darkness we quietly snuck down a muddy path and… that’s where we came across out first obstacle. All the winter rain had turned what was previously a large ditch in to a rather deep creek. Luckily we came across a fallen tree and we all took turns in crossing the rotting log on to the opposite bank. Richie went first with his sleeping bag in one hand and his camera and clothes in another. He made it nearly all the way across before slipping on the rotting bark and falling in to the water. He pulled himself out pretty quickly but the main concern was the camera. We needed to get in to the manor first before checking the damage. After Richie had slipped we all knew to be extra cautious and we passed all our camping gear across the creek before crawling along to the other side.
Once we crossed we then had a whole new challenge to face. As silent as could be we had to climb a rusted old fence – the boys being such lovely gentlemen helped me across silently we crossed fields and jumped more fenced this time they were covered in barbed wire. I must admit that I was a little apprehensive when we approached the house and I saw the razor wire that surrounded the building. Luckily my new friends knew the way in. The rest of our entrance I’m going to have to leave out but it was very challenging and took us a rather long time with all of our gear.
When we entered the house the first thing that surprised me was all the stuff! No one ever moved out of there. All their things were just there. Left to rot. We couldn’t see much in the night and we didn’t want to turn our torches on just in case someone saw us – so we set ourselves up with a few candles for light and sat around chatting in to the wee hours of the morning. Everything in the house was damp so we sat on bin bags to keep the moisture out. It was a freezing night and I was very grateful to be dry and in a very toasty sleeping bag. Sadly the same couldn’t be said for Richie – all his clothes and his sleeping bag were damp from his fall in to the creek. We chatted late in to the night and they all exchanged stories of their adventures. I listened intently – they certainly fanned the flames of my wanderlust fire. Urbex is like a whole new world to me and a very interesting one at that.
By the time we went to sleep I was completely exhausted. We rolled our bin bags out on the floor – jumped in to our sleeping bags with our pillows zipped up inside with us. I slept like the dead. who would have thought? We woke at first light and I saw the true haunting beauty of this abandoned manor house. The house itself was 4 stories high and an impressive stained glass ceiling. We could only reach the first two stories as the other staircases had rotted and fallen down. The boys ventured further than we had using a ladder that was in the house. We got my hair and makeup ready while we were waiting for the sun to rise. Then we spent the next few hours shooting barefoot around the decapitated house… I have never been so cold in my life! My feet completely lost feeling but somehow were still really painful. Thank goodness it was worth it. It was so so worth it.
I had an adventure. I had a brand new experience. I made some wonderful new friends and we created some beautiful images.
Love to hear from you so leave me a comment below or tweet with me @jessicaswander.
Until next time wanderlusters.
Photographer: Rebecca Litchfield
Model: Jessica Nicole Griffiths
Gowns: The Couture Company
Location: Bull Manor
Let me know what you think – leave a comment below or tweet me @jessicaswander
Oh dear wanderlusters, it has been a while… I’ve missed you dearly I promise.
I’ve been mega crazy busy – I finally found an incredible job! I’m working in digital marketing and events management for a company called Gertrude & Ivy in Battersea. It’s a big career change for me but a very welcome one. If someone wanted to pay me to be a full time wanderlusting gypsy princess/blogger then that would be fantabulous – but until that day comes I’ll content myself by organizing super fun events and creating engaging content for our clients.
Settling in to London is taking a lot longer than I thought it would. I’ve been looking for a flat and viewing lots of places that seem promising – which means I’m still living out of a bag and staying at friends places. I’ve learnt to accept peoples kindness – which was a surprisingly hard lesson to learn. I wasn’t really accustomed to people giving so much and I’m eternally grateful for the lesson and to them of course.
Another surprising discovery is my desire to have a place to call my own. I have always been a little bit nomadic with my sleeping arrangements even when I was settled in Melbourne and working full time – I’d sleep over at friends houses or go visit family for the night and then commute back in to the city the following day to work but I always had a space that was entirely mine to call home. It was a tiny space in a tiny room… but it was my space. It’s where I kept my treasures – my photo albums, my journals, my sentimental belongings. It’s a comfort that I didn’t realise I so desperately needed.
As always I do love to hear from you, so please leave a comment or tweet me @jessicaswander
I had an “ah-ha moment” a few years back when I was in Bali for one of Eoin Finn’s YES (Yoga Ecology Surf) retreats.
It was the final day of the retreat and I was getting dressed for our last dinner together in one of the bigger houses. I’d already packed up my backpack in preparation to move on to beautiful inland Ubud for the next week or so and I realised just how little I had with me and just how little I actually needed.
Fast forward to November 2013 when I was packing up my bags and getting rid of all my possessions. It was absolutely liberating. I don’t want to waste money on trivial things like more handbags, ornaments, clothes, shoes, jewellery, cosmetics or perfumes. When you really think about it how much do those things actually add to your life? How many hours working did you spend to be able to afford that watch your wearing to make sure you catch your train on time? Now I’m not saying I’ve gone all minimalist and have gotten rid of all my material possessions because I haven’t. I just realised that some of the best things in life are not all that expensive and I’d rather spend my money on a grand adventure than a grand gown that will sit in my closet until I find somewhere to wear it. I’d rather work hard at what I love doing then spend each day commuting in to a job that I don’t enjoy just so I can afford the Claude Maus jacket I’ve been lusting after.
Less is almost always more,
p.s. I always love to hear from you guys, so please leave a comment below, or tweet with me @jessicaswander
As of today I’ve been in England for 45 days.
I’ve been up to York and walked along the walls, seen York Minster, Walked up on the North Yorkshire Moors, been to lots of pubs, been welcomed in to people’s homes to spend Christmas and New Years. I’ve been driven through old towns, slept the night in a dilapidated manor in the name of art, wandered the streets of London, partied till dawn and practiced yoga with one of my idols and made lots of new friends…
Needless to say its been a wicked time.
But now I’m ready to get settled in to living and working in London. The whole reason I decided to move here was because I just wanted to change the focus of my life to what I wanted rather that the life I was leading previously which was wholly focused on what other people wanted. That might sound a little selfish but I know that changing my life focus to be on what makes me happy I will then be in a position to actually help others more.
So now the challenge has been finding something that I want to do and finding someone who will give me the opportunity to do it. My work experience has been mostly in Finance Administration and not much else but I’m hopeful that the right opportunity will come along.
I feel like I am exactly where I need to be right now. I love London. I love my new friends. I love my old friends who have settled here and I love getting to know my cousins. Now is the time to get settled in, put my backpack away and create the life that I think I deserve…
Now back to finding the perfect flat…