2016 took me to Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Germany, Singapore, New Zealand and all over Australia. Somehow, I even managed to visit Indonesia, Thailand and Singapore quite a few times! Some of these trips have been part of a big group media trips, others have been on group tours and some have been just Matt and I (those are the real broke-ass ones where we eat instant noodles). I’ve met some incredible people, learned a lot (which you can read about here) and gained a new confidence in my work and my abilities. I’ve also evolved my photography style to something I’m really proud of (it took a while!) So, in the spirit of celebrating the old and welcoming the new, I wanted to share my favourite photos from 2016 and also adorn this blog post with a ridiculous name.
I’d love to know if you have a favourite photo of mine from the year. Maybe something you saw on social media or in a blog post? Let me know in the comments below and feel free to share your favourite photography moment from 2016 too!
I got the chance to join a big group of influencers on an insanely busy trip through Indonesia, with their tourism board. On it were some of the most inspiring and totally cool people I could ever hope to meet. I connected with a lot of them, especially these three; Vinh of Fluffpiece, Alamby and Luke of The Backstreet Nomad. They really helped me find the confidence to see what I do as a creative expression and to properly plan photographs. I had the idea to take shots like these before, but would never have done it without their support. It gave me so much confidence. Here, we’re buzzing up to Ubud, from Kuta, in vintage VW Things. SO COOL!
I had been travelling for quite a few weeks on back-to-back media trips and missed Matt’s birthday! Our birthdays are 6 days apart, so in-between trips we met in Singapore and flew over to Thailand. We stayed here, in Ao Nang. The weather wasn’t great, but the pool and views were fantastic. We drank cold Chang, swam all day, slept in and ate as much food as we could handle. Matt got this photo of me and I love it!
I went to New Zealand and joined an epic 24-day tour of New Zealand, from top to bottom. Early on in the piece, we celebrated the birthday of one of our tour mates, Chris. We found ourselves here, at the Coromandel. Most of the others wanted to take the big jump off the rock, but I wanted to photograph it and I’m glad I did. This photo of Chris jumping off the cliff into the water on his birthday perfectly captures the spirit of travel and adventure for me. I love how he’s suspended in that moment and anything could happen.
Matt and I self-funded an adventure over to Bali early on this year, which meant it was done on a very small budget. We decided to stay in Ubud for the first time ever, holed up a cute little homestay, eating vegetarian food and doing yoga each day. One morning we hired a bike and set out to find this waterfall. We drove past it, got a bit lost, asked for directions 10 times and finally found it. The light was awesome and, even though you weren’t allowed to get in and swim, it was still a beautiful spot. Matt got this awesome photo for me.
I have ALWAYS wanted a photo like this, hanging out the side of a train, hair going wild. I finally got it on the overnight train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, on my trip through Thailand, Laos and Cambodia with Topdeck.
This year really saw me fall back in love with my GoPro and helped me develop my photography style a lot. I’ve really loved taking shots like this, with the GoPro’s wide lens capturing a big, sweeping shot with my noggin’ in the middle of it. Next year I want to take one of these every place I go and make a blog post out of it at the end of the year. I also want to take some video of each place I go, like this, but with me walking forward and make a video of it in a few years time!
I’ve always wanted to take a shot like this, with sparkers. But I guess I always felt like I wasn’t a good enough photographer or blogger to do it. I felt embarrassed like people would think I was silly and self-important or something. Finally, I got out of my own head and found the confidence to do it. I’m so glad I did, I love these shots!
My red skirt had a hell of a year and this shot from a golden afternoon in Laos is a real favourite of mine.
My best friend, Mindy, came to visit Matt and I while on a big trip through New Zealand and Japan. I met Mindy in 2009, we were both arriving at a hostel in London at 4am to meet our Topdeck group for our first ever big solo trips. We were both a bit nervous and I plucked up the courage to talk to her. We hit it off immediately, spent the next 36 days sharing a room and just clicked. Even now, we’re so similar it’s scary. Mindy was a bridesmaid at Matt and my wedding and people often mistake us for sisters, even my mum thinks we could be sisters! I love this photo cos it just captures ‘us’.
Matt and I took a trip down to Berry in New South Wales this year and fell in love with the town. We captured some amazing photos there, including these two. One thing you need to know, I’m deathly hungover in these photos. We’d hit a wine tasting the night before and I’d gotten swept up in the locals’ party web and drank way too much red wine and woke up very close to death. Matt forced me to get up at dawn to take photos and all I could manage to do was pull on a blanket and a robe and crawl outside. It was rough.
I visited Laos for the first time ever and fell in love with it. One particularly awesome day was when we got in this boat and cruised down the Mekong. The weather was perfect, great music playing, delicious food, cold beers. It was just a really chill, blissful day and I felt really centred.
We went to this tiny village in the middle of nowhere on an island somewhere in Indonesia. It was STINKING hot, I mean really, really hot. I was tired and frustrated from the 17 hour days we’d been working so when we got to this little village and realised we’d be there for hours, I decided to start drinking. I hit the Bintangs hard and ended up really drunk at the village dance. Turns out, I’m damn good at the stick dancing game they play. #WhiteGirlsCanDance
The end of 2016 was spent at one of our favourite places – Agnes Water and 1770. There’s a beach there, called Chinaman’s Beach, and I swear it has the best sunrises! If you wake up super early and drag your sleepy self out there, it’s the best spot for a dawn swim and it’s usually deserted, so you get the whole beach all to yourself. I love these two photos from our trip.
There were more than a few good walls in 2016 and these two gave me all the Instagram-worthy feels! The shot on the left is from my trip to Düsseldorf when, on a walking tour of the city, we found this wall. The rest of the group went ahead, but the other IG obsessed girl and I stopped and risked getting lost to get the shot – embarrassing but damn worth it. The shot on the right is from my trip out to Toowoomba for the carnival of flowers, I love the street art in Toowoomba and berated Matt into helping me get this photo! He’s so obliging (cos I wrote it into our wedding vows – jk).
My focus for 2016 was to have more fun. I’m a perfectionist and the kind of person to get caught up in the detail of things, wanting to do things the very best they can possibly be done. That often leads me to miss out on ‘the moment’. It took me all year to learn the lesson properly, but I got there! 2016 was definitely the year of fun for me and I have so many great memories, it was a year of big laughs and beautiful smiles. So I wanted to share these photos with you as a group, to show you just a few of the big, happy smiles I got to have.
Just a quick note to say a huge thank you for all those of you who read, watch, follow, share and like Little Grey Box. Matt and I appreciate your support a lot and we want you to know how much it means to us. Here’s to another big year of adventures, just waiting to happen.
Watch: our ’12 months in 60 seconds’ video
Phoebe Lee is a travel writer and award-winning blogger with a love for storytelling. Phoebe creates practical, fun and engaging written content designed to inspire and energise travel-lovers and dreamers. Follow her and Matt’s adventures at home and around the world, right here on Little Grey Box and through Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.