Laura Bingham pictured from behind, facing dense jungle, as she films a vlog with a Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II.

Travel Vlogging

How to vlog an adventure: meet the woman who conquered the Amazon on camera

In 2018, British explorer Laura Bingham led a world-first expedition to the source of the Essequibo River in Guyana, along with fellow adventurers Ness Knight and Pip Stewart, then kayaked the length of the river back down to the Atlantic Ocean. As a new mother, Laura felt compelled to do something extraordinary to maintain her hard-earned status as an adventurer. During her 72-day challenge, she encountered rapids, waterfalls and venomous snakes, and documented the whole thing on a Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II.*

The Essequibo River is the largest in Guyana and third-largest in all of South America, stretching over 1,000 kilometres from source to mouth as it meanders through dense rainforest and open plains. It acts as a lifeline for the indigenous Wai Wai people, who assisted Laura and her team on their journey, as well as to all kinds of wildlife including the elusive jaguar. For 72 days it supported Laura too: she slept in a hammock on its banks, alongside three-metre-long predatory caiman, and fished in it for sustenance.

While remaining focused on the physical and emotional challenge of completing the journey, Laura and her team set out to tell a story of human endurance and sustainable, self-powered travel. They were accompanied by a photographer and filmmaker for sections of the journey, but had to rely on their own shooting skills and three Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark IIs to document the more private moments direct to camera.**

Here we find out what it takes to vlog an adventure when you’re exhausted, what kit will stand up to the challenge, and why it’s important to devote time to telling your story.

A group photograph by Jon Williams of the expedition members in the Guyana jungle.

What inspired you to take on the Essequibo?

"After my husband" – fellow adventurer and TV presenter Ed Stafford – "and I had our son, I was scared of losing my identity. I was scared that all of my adventures would be forgotten and remain in the past as I became absorbed in being a mother. I spoke to Ed about this and he casually said, 'The Essequibo has never been done before, and it’s amazing – like a Disney jungle.' As soon as I heard the words 'Disney' and 'never been done before', I said, 'Thanks for the idea, it's mine now!' Laughing with excitement, I ran away from him and went straight into the office to start researching."

Laura photographs her husband Ed Stafford playing with their son on a beach.

What story were you there to tell?

"Ness, Pip and I all have similar motives for adventure – we really enjoy human-powered experience. We were trying to highlight the benefits of sustainable, alternative travel while also challenging ourselves physically. "We were also there to highlight the consequences of human impact on the environment. The river started in virgin rainforest, but as we progressed it cut through parts of the rainforest that humans had touched through mining and logging. In these places the water went from clean to putrid – human faeces and rubbish littered the water, and we all developed rashes and abscesses on our bodies. It was important for us to document this as thoroughly as we could."

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Laura and Ness Knight use a Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II to film themselves in front of a tent in the jungle, inside which Pip Stewart is sitting.

How did you plan to tell the story?

"Collectively, we have 150,000 or 160,000 followers on social media, so we knew we had a good audience who would respond well, but we also wanted to personally convey our own raw emotion directly to camera, and for that we used the Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II," says Laura, who posts under the Instagram handle @laurabingham93.

"We each needed a small camera with us so we could sneak off when no one was looking and record how we were feeling. It made the experience more honest than if we gave an interview to the film crew. We kept our cameras in our pockets or day bags so they were easily accessible and we could take every opportunity to film."

What are the biggest challenges to creating outdoor videos of your adventures?

"When you're so emotionally and physically invested in completing a challenge, it's easy to forget to stop to take photos or video. This is especially true for me because I really wanted to get the challenge done and return to my family. That said, we’d gone on the trip to tell a story, and to produce content not only for ourselves but for our sponsors, so we had to get it done. Being able to pull the PowerShot G7 X Mark II out of my pocket and put it to work immediately was essential, so that the rest of the time we could get our heads down and keep going as hard and fast as we could."

Ness Knight sits on a sandy riverbank filming a vlog with a Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II.

What were your biggest considerations when choosing cameras?

"I've found that the amount of weight you’re carrying is inversely proportional to the amount of fun you’re going to have. If you have a tiny PowerShot G7 X Mark II camera with you that still gets amazing footage, it's only going to add to the fun of the trip.

"Our cameras got thrown into our day bags, which sat in front of us in the kayaks, alongside suncream, sunglasses and our food for the day. They proved to be robust and durable, and coped with the humidity really well, unlike the laptop we brought with us to store footage. When we were worried the cameras had gotten too moist, we’d just throw them in our bags of rice to dry out. We had to remember to look out for them when taking a cup of rice to eat, but it worked!"

Was the camera easy to use?

"Due to the nature of what we were doing, it was so important that we had a camera that worked without much input from us. We relied a lot on the Automatic shooting mode because time didn't really allow for us to be changing settings. On the PowerShot G7 X Mark II, the auto setting is so good that if you don't know cameras and you don't have the time to go into settings and choose different scenes and different modes, it's intelligent enough to do it for you. It coped with different light environments really well, exposing the scene properly whether we were in direct sunlight on the river or in our hammocks under the jungle canopy at night.

"Another really good feature of the PowerShot G7 X Mark II is that you can flip the screen up, so you can frame yourself really well. This shows whether you're in focus or not, and what’s in your background. This is particularly helpful for vlogging and made the camera even easier to use on the move."

Adventurer Laura Bingham stands chest deep in the Essequibo River, holding a machete aloft. Photograph by Jon Williams.

Are you glad you went to the effort of capturing stills and video?

"Every moment was so intense on the trip that many got forgotten along the way. It's just impossible to remember everything, and there’s a danger of forgetting the beautiful little moments. Now that we're home, all the memories have merged into a kind of blur, but it’s through the photos and videos we took that we can ignite the trip for ourselves over and over again."

What are your tips for others who might want to vlog their adventures?

"If your aim is to shoot vlogs for social media, the Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II is amazing. It’s a fantastic, all-encompassing vlogger’s camera that will help, not hinder, on your adventures.

"In terms of content, remember you never have too much. Even when you think you’ve created enough, you can always experiment and try new angles until you get something that works. Be free enough to know your capabilities and your flaws, and ask for help if you need it."

Written by Matthew Bowen

*The Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II is designed for environments 0-40°C, 10-90% humidity. Normal operation in extreme conditions cannot be guaranteed. Waterproof Case (40m) WP-DC55 is available as a separate accessory.

** The video featured in this article combines vlog footage captured by Laura, Ness and Pip on the Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II with the footage captured by professional filmmaker Peiman Zekavat on the Canon EOS C300 Mark II, Canon EOS 5D Mark IV and L-series lenses.

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