Where cinematic travel videos meet golden hour photography

From colour grading for a unique look to custom modes to quickly switch settings as his environment dictates, Harrison Brown reveals his hacks for hybrid content creation.
Videographer and photographer Harrison Brown holds a Canon camera, with a waterfall flowing down the rocks behind him.

"I think it's really important to get an understanding of both photography and video and have an in-depth knowledge of how it works and how it looks," says travel content creator Harrison Brown.

The world may seem increasingly crowded, but Harrison Brown is growing a global following by documenting places that make humans seem small, and the skies feel big: from his Scottish homelands to far-flung corners of East Asia. "I want to trigger an emotion," says the photographer-turned-videographer, who has more than 91,500 TikTok followers and several thousand YouTube subscribers.

Travelling the world may seem glamorous, but for Harrison, it all started with documenting what was on his doorstep in Scotland. "I tried to inspire people to get out and about," he says. That's where he initially found success, and through the years, and by working with brands, his roving has expanded.

"Last year I spent about eight months travelling, and then the rest of the time in the UK editing," says Harrison.

Travelling the world, creating content and making a living from it is a dream for many people, but it hasn't been an easy or conventional path for Harrison. "I applied to study videography and photography at five different universities and didn't get in," he says. "So I taught myself. I was heavily into photos, then realised I had more of an interest in video."

With no formal education, Harrison turned to the internet to hone his skills. "Once you've got the basic understanding, it's really up to you. You need to try and test things, and actually a lot of stuff initially won't be good." There's another route he also credits with his journey to becoming a professional: building communities and connections with other content creators. "I've met some really incredible, talented people that within three seconds can tell you exactly what you're doing wrong – that would take a lot longer if you were to look it up yourself."

To link up with the Canon Learning Series on YouTube, we spoke to Harrison to find out more about his approach to hybrid content creation.

A man holding a Canon camera smiles and talks to another man.

Canon Learning Series on YouTube

From portraits to wildlife, flash to editing, master your skills in photography and video with our latest series.
The silhouette of a figure stands on a hillside facing a pink-tinged sunrise in a photograph by Harrison Brown.

Harrison often rises in the early hours to get his impressive travel shots – both for the light, and to avoid the crowds. When he's photographing sunrises and sunsets he tends to turn to the custom modes and profiles on his camera to save time and make sure he captures the beauty before the moment passes. Taken on a Canon EOS R5 with a Canon RF 15-35mm F2.8L IS USM lens at 15mm, 1/250 sec, f/2.8 and ISO 100. © Harrison Brown

A long exposure of a stream gushing through rocks and alongside bare trees, with mountains in the background, in a photograph by Harrison Brown.

Harrison recognises the importance of learning and honing his craft. "You want to know everything and through learning all these different techniques, you develop different styles for different settings," he says. "For example, if there's fast water flowing, a long exposure looks more professional and adds variety to your feeds." Taken on a Canon EOS R5 with a Canon RF 15-35mm F2.8L IS USM lens at 15mm, 1/2 sec, f/11 and ISO 400. © Harrison Brown

New compositions, not new locations

Harrison is drawn to the secluded: spots where he can be alone with his camera. Travel photography often takes place in well-trodden locations, but early mornings can help you avoid the crowds.

"For me, what makes a good location is it being quiet," Harrison explains. "That's partially why I get up so early and why I pull all-nighters to go to certain locations. Everywhere in the world is now saturated with tourists. It's not a bad thing, but if you get up early, you will be more or less by yourself." That's not the only benefit either: "If you go to places at midday, the lighting is also not going to be as good."

Creating original imagery on well-worn paths also requires some creativity. "Try not to consume other content – try to keep that creative flair or you'll begin to copy and replicate," advises Harrison. "There's always going to be the key compositions that everybody gets. I think about how I can put my own unique spin on that: adding things like a subject and using the rule of thirds to create new compositions."

When it comes to video, there's another layer that Harrison thinks gives content originality. "Colour grading is one of the most important aspects in video and photography," says Harrison. "You can get a totally unique look that sets the scene of your video. When you look at travel videography and photography, they often go down the teal and orange route." Harrison tries to create a unique look that is still true to reality. "A natural colour grade also keeps it aesthetically appealing."

The aurora borealis are captured above a snowy landscape, the lights a bright green against the night sky in a photo by Harrison Brown.

"In order to be an accomplished videographer or photographer, you need to have a wide range of knowledge in every aspect of photography," says Harrison. Part of that knowledge is choosing the right kit and learning the best ways to use it. Harrison uses Canon Log on his Canon EOS R5 to make the most of colour grading potential, such as in this image of the aurora borealis. Shot on a Canon EOS R5 with a Canon RF 15-35mm F2.8L IS USM lens at 15mm, 0.8 sec, f/2.8 and ISO 640. © Harrison Brown

Kitbag for a hybrid workflow

Harrison's kit choices are a key part of how he achieves his aesthetic. He shoots with a Canon EOS R5, which offers 45MP photos at up to 20fps, alongside cinematic 12-bit 8K RAW video using the entire width of the camera's sensor. "You need to think about what use you've actually got to get out of that camera," Harrison explains. "I knew I wanted a good hybrid camera, and I also wanted the highest quality products because I was working for bigger brands."

Why did Harrison choose the Canon EOS R5? "The 4K at 120fps (slow motion) was paramount to me. I like to shoot a lot of my video in slow motion to emphasise the scenes. So, for example, if you're in Norway and there's a huge storm brewing you can get this slow motion of the water and the wind going through the sand, it's very dramatic."

The Canon EOS R5's 45MP sensor also features Dual Pixel CMOS AF II. "Autofocus is paramount, because you can't actually see what you're filming," says Harrison. "When the camera's in front of you, if you're holding the camera out, you can't manual focus. You need to trust that it's focused on your face. This superior autofocus system makes it a lot easier."

The last feature consideration was image stabilisation. "Stabilisation is really important because I film a lot handheld," explains Harrison. "I do use a gimbal, but you can't always carry one with you." The IBIS in the Canon EOS R5 can deliver up to 5-stops of IS and up to 8-stops when working in conjunction with certain RF lenses. "When you put that into your post and also maybe add a bit of stabilisation, you can get really smooth footage without a gimbal."

Harrison also carries a tripod, spare batteries, a drone, CFexpress cards – "always two in case one corrupts" – and SSD hard drives. "I always carry an SSD and a laptop to sync over everything daily," Harrison explains.

Harrison Brown looks into a Canon camera, facing upwards towards his subject, rocky mountains behind him.

"I'm what's important and my work is what's important, instead of what other people think of my work. My biggest mistake was just not learning that sooner," says Harrison.

Harrison Brown bends over to look through a Canon camera placed on a tripod, a rocky mountainside towering up behind him.

Harrison enjoys how easy the Canon RF lenses are to change while he's out and about, so he can take all three in his kitbag alongside accessories such as his trusty tripod.

The Trinity of RF lenses

It's not just the Canon EOS R5 features that count in this hybrid setup. The first lens Harrison bought was a Canon RF 15-35mm F2.8L IS USM. "Then I got the RF 24-70mm F2.8L IS USM and then the RF 70-200mm F2.8L IS USM, which is what people in the camera industry call the Trinity," he explains. "I think the RF lenses, especially ones with lower aperture, are the best investment."

The Canon RF 15-35mm F2.8L IS USM is probably the lens Harrison uses the most when he's travelling. "You want to capture the whole scene. I like to work through it systematically: to get all my wide shots of the setting when it's sunrise or sunset, then in towards more detailed shots with the 70-200mm or 24-70mm. And thinking with a social media hat on, if you film in a 15-35mm focal length, it's a lot easier to crop into portrait format."

Three young Afghan boys deep in discussion sit on a wall in front of a large body of water. One of the boys is holding a bright pink sandal.

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Harrison's hybrid workflow

Harrison always films first – he considers himself a videographer that takes photographs – "but I always want to get a couple of photos from that scene as well," he confirms.

"I would say that I spend 80% of my time on video and 20% on photos. For me, it's about being fast and focusing on video," says Harrison. "The settings on the Canon EOS R5 are extremely easy to navigate through and within two clicks, you can switch from video to photo."

With customised modes for everything – long exposures, night shots, landscape settings, astrophotography, portraits – set-up is simple and fast. "This is partly why I use the Canon EOS R5 when I'm travelling, because it is so easy to switch between them and it saves so much time," says Harrison. "Have settings with your different frame rates: one for 24fps, 50fps, 120fps 4K…" Setting up your camera in this way streamlines the hybrid approach.

Of course, once the footage is shot you still have the job of managing large files, and lots of them. "My process when I travel is to file everything by day and by what happened within that day," says Harrison. "Then I will split it apart again into photos and videos, so that you're not going through the photos in order to find the videos."

And so he doesn't forget where the gems are, he adds a colour code to the best days, so that he can edit those first.

Harrison Brown walks away from the camera, with a rucksack on his back and a camera in his hand, mountains stretching up in the background.

Don't be lured by the glossy grids – get into content creation for the right reasons, as travel isn't always as glamorous as it looks, advises Harrison. If you truly enjoy your work, don't be afraid to share it – you might get really useful feedback and more support than you thought.

You can't succeed unless you try

It can sound overwhelming, Harrison acknowledges. But it doesn't have to be complicated, and one of the things he wished he understood at the start is that people don't care as much as you think they do. "You might feel self-conscious about putting yourself on a screen or putting a picture up that you've taken. The odds are that people will support you and that people don't care. Don't be self-conscious. If this is what you want to do, then do it. It's very important to fail trying new things because after a year of failing, you'll eventually get it right. I think that the mistake that people make is that they never try."

Harrison may have no illusions about the reality of travel – the exhaustion, the accommodation, the food poisoning – but, for him, there's an ulterior motive. "I think the inspiration for me is giving something to people, and making them happy."

For more inspiration and advice from content creators, check out the Canon Europe Learning Series playlist on YouTube.

Emma-Lily Pendleton

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