Jürgen and Mike did not plan to become professional travel bloggers, but the passion promptly turned into their business. In this talk, they share their journey as bloggers and their experience with unlicensed image use.
Jürgen Horn and Michael Powell run the travel blog For91Days, which offers a quite different experience for their readers. Instead of visiting for a few days, the content creators travel and stay for 91 days in each of their chosen destinations, which allows them to more deeply explore the place’s culture, culinary, and life. And the idea to do so came almost by accident, after a few glasses of wine, such as many other good ideas.
The bloggers have been clients of RYDE since 2019, with Jürgen also becoming a RYDE ambassador in 2020. Today, we share the talk we had with him and Mike about their journey, how they turned a passion into a business, and how has their experience with unlicensed image use online been.
Tell us about your journey with photography.
Mike: Well, my journey with photography started as I got to know Jürgen. He is the one with the lens.
Jürgen: I got my first camera at the age of 6. At the age of 21, I decided to start my photography career with the New England School Of Photography in Boston. I am professionally taking images since 2000. It’s been over 20 years. WAOH. Saying this verbally makes it sound like a long time. But I learn like a beginner every day, with every click I make.
I remember being the first one to attend the beginner’s photoshop class back in my university. In the last two decades, many things have changed, a shift of photography from analog to digital, from developing the films to posting them on social media. It has been a beautiful ride with different forms, shapes, sizes, and equipment types.
And FOR91Days? What made you start the blog? That one light bulb moment that the idea struck.
Jürgen: Mike and I lived in multiple cities — starting with Boston, then moving to Berlin, later to Ireland, and then the last station in Spain. We were always looking for a change, another place to hop to, another place to go. We were moving so often.
Mike: One usual Saturday afternoon, we had our regular wine, and then this idea stuck. Why do we think so much? Why can’t we keep moving every three months? We don’t have a family, no kids, and not a job requiring us to report to the office at 9 am. There is nothing that’s stopping us.
Jürgen: It took about five months to plan everything. We divided 365 days into four parts and decided to stay in these different locations every year. Our passion to be somewhere new, explore something unexplored.
Mike: Starting our blog was about having a constant feeling that we have to keep producing something new. This pushed us out, as Jürgen mentioned, to explore and evolve as individuals, travellers, bloggers.
So was it photography for blogging or blogging for photography?
Jurgen: I guess it was probably both. As we said before, it was about exploring new places.
Mike: If Jürgen weren’t a photographer, we indeed wouldn’t have done it. So it was pushing his talent. It was just an incredible idea to bring his art into a new mode, a more regular one.
Jürgen: Well, I feel like the blog is an extension of Mike’s unique journals. We wish, one day, when we retire and look through our blog entries, we see all the amazing moments we lived and explored together. I feel we already have something to look forward to.
What was your most memorable experience while travelling?
Jürgen: There is this one Image that will always be stuck in my head. It was a picture that unfolded on its own. I was clicking an image of a temple in Sri Lanka. It was initially going to be a reflection of a beautiful creation. Still, multiple elements automatically got attached to the Image, making it look completely different from what I thought for it to be. I guess that’s travel photography, you don’t create an image, but you let it make itself.
Mike: For me, it was in Vietnam. Randomly travelling in the outskirts of the city, we entered a tiny village. We got starving that we had to find a random house and ask them for some food. It ended up with us being a part of a vast ‘match-making’ festival of the town and feasting on a super traditional feast. Woah! What a beautiful memory.
Did you ever think that people are using your images without paying you the due license for the same?
Jürgen: I was always aware of people using my photos. There was a point when I was obsessed with reverse image search. I tried to resolve the issue on my own, but it wasn’t as effective. In fact, it was incredibly infuriating. So I decided in 2015 to stop looking for photos.
Mike: When we initially started to find out that people are using our images commercially, we came up with a program script called Jurgen Image Search. But we always knew that we couldn’t do anything unless we have a legal weight behind us or someone with the same experience as RYDE.
Have you ever pursued unlicensed usage of your imagery on your own?
Jürgen: Yes, we tried multiple times but were never successful. We successfully took down some images with take-down notices, but it was never really satisfying since we never received any remuneration out of it.
Now that you’re with RYDE, has this helped you get compensated for the same?
Jürgen: With RYDE, initially, I was in pure shock finding out how many of my images are being used commercially without my knowledge. Along with the shock, it’s also a relief for being compensated.
Mike: I believe it’s extremely satisfying to control where the images are being used in the huge WWW region.
#14Answers with Jürgen and Mike, from For91Days
It was fun to play the word association game with both bloggers and see where how their answers meet and differ. Please take a look at how it went.
Mike: Enjoying other’s creations.
Jürgen: Pure passion for life.
Mike: Cultural location
Jürgen: Raw street arts
Jürgen: Something I can’t live without.
4. Perfect Image
Mike: Moments of human interactions
Jürgen: The unplanned aspects coming right in before you hit the click button.
5. A Place
6. A Movie
Mike: Honeyland..reminding us of Macedonia days.
7. Your road song
Mike: New African Girls
8. A Book
Mike: In Savannah, the book of the city, Midnight In Garden of golden evil
Jürgen: Museum of Innocense, we lived right across from the museum in the same street
9. A food
Mike: EVERYTHING..that’s the main reason for travelling. Japan’S TOKYO went to the fish market…
Jürgen: EVERYTHING but street food, cooked by local people
10. A Motto
Mike: You only live once.
Jürgen: Figure things out, and do it. You will never regret it.
Mike: Jürgen inspires me a lot. COME ON, let’s do something. Partner inspiration.
Jürgen: New place, new people, new life, new exploration. New streets, running into NEW people.
Mike: Who knows?
Jürgen: 2020: Lesson learned, don’t think about the future. Travel is always in the future… 80-year-old outer space travel vloggers.
Mike: The Internet changed our lives completely..So our success is digital, and digital is a success. Evolution opened the world to us. You can do anything you wanted.
Jürgen: Adjustment. Happy for new technology…In terms of anything.
Jürgen: Not always on purpose