Written by Shay Zhang
With whimsical flair and an unwavering focus on conscious brands, photography and branding agency Drawn With Light is the love child of Meg and Rod. Delving into their own ethos and approach to life, it‘s clear that their steadfast belief in living a conscious and sustainable life threads itself through both work and play. I spoke with content creator, Meg, and self-taught, self-confessed “obsessed” photographer, Rod, about living a gypsy life, learning to switch off, and connecting serendipitously through social media.
It has been a real joy connecting with like-minded people such as yourselves through social media.
Meg: It’s honestly the best tool. It’s where we source most of our brands, and how we find our people. Instagram is amazing if you think of it as a positive way to connect with people.
Do you consider yourselves ‘influencers’?
M: We like to think of ourselves as creating content and photography for sustainable brands as opposed to being on the influencer side of things. We started posting on instagram during our first trip in 2018, because we were so inspired by the places we travelled to.
Rod: We purchased our first camera two years ago, and when we were travelling I got really into it.
M: Yeah, he’s totally obsessed. I catch him watching photography videos on YouTube first thing in the morning!
Tell me more about Drawn With Light. Was it also inspired by your travels?
M: We created Drawn with Light to bring together all of what we do into one business. There are two main elements; Conscious Connections, which is working with sustainable brands and Photography for the Wild at Heart, which is photography for online content and events. We’ve recently been asked to cover a few weddings which is really exciting as well!
So you’re in lockdown together, you travel together, and you work together. Talk about a power couple!
R: Yeah, we barely leave each other’s side!
Have you learned anything about each other that you wouldn’t have without working together?
R: Stay out of each other’s way when we need to go into our caves!
M: I get into these editing caves, and I stay there for hours and hours. For Rod, it’s when he’s taking photos. He spends ages being in his zone with the camera.
Is there ever a conflict between your commitment to living a slow and conscious life, and the culture of social media and the hyper-connected online world?
M: There is. Running a business is so wrapped up in social media and having an online presence that we have to remember to step away from our screens. When we go for a hike, we’ll leave technology at home. You can’t absorb yourself in nature with the lure of technology constantly with you. You just have to remove yourself and find a balance between online and off.
How do you learn to switch off?
R: Travelling has really helped us to switch off. It took us honestly 3 or 4 months to learn how to slow down. You’re told that if you’re on a trip, you have to be doing something. If you’re at the beach, you should be exploring, not lazing on the sand. It was quite exhausting!
M: It was a process of learning to listen to yourself, instead of forcing yourself. I know I put a lot of pressure on myself, feeling like I need to do everything in the moment. That’s the high achiever in me. But we have a lot more time than we think we do. It’s a matter of learning to use it wisely- even so called ‘wasting time’ is of value to renew your senses and give your brain needed space.
When did you decide on an intentionally slow approach to life?
R: It was during our first trip along the east coast of Australia. We travelled for 2 months in a four-wheeled drive, and were learning to live off the grid. That was our “inspiration trip”, and we did it again in 2019 for 10 months.
Did you feel at home in the van?
M: I loved the van. It was cosy, we decked it out exactly how we wanted it. I miss it now! Everything was perfect, except that it wasn’t a four-wheeled drive. I didn’t deal well with coming back to Melbourne and working the 9 to 5 after the first trip in 2018. The idea now is to save to go travelling again.
What were your 9 to 5 jobs?
M: I have a degree in Design, majoring in Textiles and Graphics and I started an online business with my brother. We designed and produced ethical linen for the home, which was manufactured in our warehouse in Melbourne. I was also a full time nanny so life was quite intense.
R: And I was a diamond setter for a family business, the same job for 13 years.
M: I don’t know how he did it, I’m too much of a gypsy to stay in one job for 13 years!
R: And now she’s made me a gypsy, too.
How do you keep up the motivation to freelance and work while you’re on the road?
R: We scheduled in days for work and days for exploring. A library day, a van day, an editing day. But it does take more discipline than just freelancing from home.
Were you guys often alone during your trip?
M: I think your idea of travelling is very different to when you are travelling. We thought it would be remote and vast, and we’d be out there travelling by ourselves. But we were surprised - every site we went to there were people. Now that everything is so accessible with social media, and you can tag locations, the locations are flooded by travellers. People just want to go to the same hotspots, to get the same photo as everyone else. And we saw that so many times! Instead of getting that sunrise photo, how about just enjoying the sunrise? It feels like we’ve lost a sense of wonder. Social media is amazing, and it’s a beautiful tool to connect, but sometimes we’re too connected.
What environmental impact did you see from that many travellers?
M: Every campsite had lots of toilet paper, it was horrible. Everywhere we went we were picking up rubbish - especially on the beaches. There was never a place without rubbish, and that was disheartening. It’s important to leave a place better than how you found it.
What can we do to not be a part of that problem?
M: It’s about being a lot more conscious about the choices you make when you’re travelling. Don’t buy packaged goods or food wrapped in plastic, because you’ll need to throw that out, and a lot of these places won’t have rubbish bins. Conscious living comes from a mindful mindset, if you are always thinking about the impact your choices or purchases will have then you make better decisions.
What is one simple change we can commit to, to live a smaller-footprint life?
M: Avoid single-use plastic.
R: When you sign up with your energy provider, choose to offset your power with renewable energy.
M: There are so many steps that someone can take, and it’s about building on your choices. For example, buy something without plastic. Then the next step is to buy organic, then ultimately grow your own food. They’re stepping stones. Taking the steps towards better, more sustainable living should be celebrated. It’s hard to be completely sustainable, and there’s so much pressure to be 100%. We should be celebrating the process.