We've known Texas based photographer Paul Tellefsen for years. We are always inspired by his spirit of community and for adventure. We sat down with him to learn more about what he has learned from years of criss crossing the globe as a full time photographer.
Why do you adventure? To push myself into uncomfortable, out of rhythm experiences to see what I’m really made of.
Why do you explore? Because I believe we were made to.
Why take risks in life? What is life without risks? Boring.
Where are you from: Born and raised in Dallas, TX
What is your 9-5: I quit the 9-5 and am a full time commercial photographer and work with @socality.
When you were growing up what or who did you want to be? I wanted to be a doctor for a long time because my mom said I had a good bed side manner. Then for a short time a chef and an architect. But I knew early on I was gifted at creative mediums like design and photography. It came naturally. So that’s what I ended up pursuing.
Favorite place you've visited? 12 Apostles on the Great Ocean Road in Australia. It was a lifelong dream to visit Australia. And this place took my breath away.
Place you most desperately want to visit? Northern Norway. My dad is the first generation in America from Norway. So our family still lives in Southern Norway. We went back this Summer after 18 years and I was in awe. Flights from there are super cheap up North too.
What is the single greatest moment of human humanity you've experienced while traveling?
New York City with Cubby Graham. I was flying to NYC for my first big photo gig with Cadillac and didn’t know who I was going to stay with or what I was gonna do. At the last minute, while I was at baggage claim, Cubby’s house opened up. Then the airline lost my bag. I spent two full days with no clothes or toiletries.
But Cubby showed one of the greatest moments of hospitality and care in my life. He offered to buy me clothes, borrow clothes, go back and wait on the baggage truck, by the way which never showed up), he gave up his bed. The list goes on. I’ve never felt so loved, but basically then a stranger. It changed my life.
What has changed about you because of your travels? My capacity to love. I’ve grown to love more and judge less.
Who is the most dynamic and thought provoking person you've ever met? Scott Bakken. Hands down probably. He’s one of the most dynamic people I’ve ever met and now have the chance to work with. His ideas on topics inspire and challenge me relentlessly. I’m forever marked by the time I’ve spent serving underneath his leadership.
If you could travel with one person in history or in present who would it be and why? I would pick Tanner Wendell Stewart (@tannerwendellstewart). I travelled with him a lot this year and just really enjoy seeing the world through his eyes. Highly respect his creative gift and his passion for nature. If you ever get the chance, travel with him and his wife!
Must Haves for Travel:
- Away Luggage
- My weird looking, but awesome neck pillow
- Mobile charger
- Good book
- Camera with one variable lens
- Bathing Suit cause you never know
Give us Some Travel Tips:
- Always take the window seat. The view is worth it. I’m 6’4” and I always scrunch to do it.
- Travel Solo at least once.
- It’s not about the city you travel to, it’s about who you experience it with.
- As part of your journaling while you travel, pick a flower or piece of a plant and put it into the journal to remember the trip.
- On long flights take NyQuil. Make a game of trying to sleep the entire flight.
- Wear your heaviest shoes onto the plane to save weight
Give us a story any kind of story from one of your trips: This summer I travelled to Norway to see my family and part of me expected to get these epic, crazy photos that you see from there. Now we did take one day of the two weeks we were there to drive to an amazing fjord, but most of the time was with family on our farm.
What I learned on this trip is to embrace the purpose of the trip you are on. If it’s to travel and drive all day to get the shot then enjoy it, but if it’s to be with family then be with family and enjoy that too.
Based on your travels what is the single most needed improvement for humanity to be stronger: A desire to gain understanding of people different than us.
What would you say to someone who has never travelled before? GO! Save up. Getting outside of your normal bubble is the best thing I ever did.
The location doesn’t make the trip, the people do. I’ve travelled to some incredible places, but no matter how beautiful or EPIC the place is, if you are with the wrong people it will ruin the trip. Be thoughtful on who you bring with you.
What is the single greatest lesson you've learned from someone that is different than you? To not seek to prove someone right or wrong, but seek to understand. I use the phrase “Help me understand” a lot these days.
When did you feel you were most out of your comfort zone? What did you learn from that lesson? It’s honestly more of the same for me. We can’t judge someone regardless of their background or beliefs or what not. All we can do is have a heart of compassion towards all people. Seeking to care and not fix people different than us.
What would you say to your former self? Calm down. Take a deep breath. You don’t need to be perfect.
What gives you hope? Jesus. period. I know that’s super Sunday school. But in my life it’s truth.
Where to next? I’m actually writing this right now on a plane to Nashville to work with Tennessee Tourism.
Is flannel always in season? Yep. I have some packed away in my suitcase.