Travel Photographer Thinks Out Of The Box With Everyday Items Since She Now WFH

Images by Erin Outdoors and featured with permission

While leaving the house for the sake of it is no longer a possibility during the COVID-19 situation, people are getting creative to simulate the outside world, such as changing up their video call backgrounds and replicating famous artworks from museums at home.

You might think the odds are stacked against travel photographers such as Erin Sullivan, who, after all, runs a blog called Erin Outdoors. In spite of the apparent challenges, she turned the quarantine around and found a new, for lack of a better word, worldly perspective from her home by capturing household objects and food as works of nature.

It turns out that a crushed paper bag makes for a realistic-looking canyon and tinfoil perfectly resembles a lake. Sullivan additionally imagines the flash on her camera as the rising sun, using its glare as the uncanny reflection on a foil “lake.” She then inserts miniature people into the sets, all of whom interact with their surroundings.

“The imagination is a powerful thing, and a gift to have,” Sullivan wrote. “Keep yours flowing. Honor the curious questions that come to greet you. What you pay attention to is what you get more of.”

From ‘Paper Bag Canyon’ to ‘Onion Springs’ and ‘Jello Lake’, who says there’s not much to explore at home?

Bask in some stunning makeshift travel photos from Erin Outdoors’ #ErinIndoors series in the posts below, and swipe through them to see what goes on behind the scenes. You can enjoy more of her work via her website, Facebook, and Instagram.

View this post on Instagram

Today I went on my first EVER trip to Paper Bag Canyon. 😉 I wasn’t really sure what we were going to find here, but I am learning that imagination is an adventure in and of itself. 💭 ✧ The response from this series has been great so far! Thank you to everyone who has sent me images of the adventures you are creating while inside. ✧ I HEREBY CHALLENGE YOU to create your own indoor adventure, and to share it so we can all come along! Whether it’s a tiny one like this series here, or setting up your tent in your living room, post and tag #OurGreatIndoors and let’s create some inspiration for us all as a community. And if you can’t participate at this time, I invite you to follow along. I’ll share your work on my stories as the hashtag fills up. ✧ This canyon was made from paper bags taped to a cutting board, and the little hiker dude is a figure from a model train set. Lighting is just the natural light coming from my window. If you feel disqualified because you don’t have a big fancy camera, try using your phone! As always, use what you’ve got. Creativity can thrive even (especially?) within a set of restrictions. 🧑‍🎨 ✧ #ErinsGreatIndoors • #OurGreatIndoors

A post shared by Erin Sullivan (@erinoutdoors) on Mar 30, 2020 at 4:53pm PDT

View this post on Instagram

Gotta love an afternoon visit to Jello Lake 🌲 And before you guys ask, YES I WAS allowed to fly my drone here!! 🙄😉 ✧ Over the past few weeks I have been thinking a lot about the nature of creativity and how ideas come to us. These days it is easy to feel like you are in competition, but I have never once experienced this to be the posture that supports long-term success or a feeling of peace. We cannot hold onto our ideas so tightly that we suffocate them. I believe ideas are given to us from God (or whoever/whatever your higher power is) and we’re just the stewards. Like love, celebration, and laughter, creativity can really shine when it is shared. (@elizabeth_gilbert_writer has a wonderful book about this concept called Big Magic. It’s also a big topic in The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. I recommend both.) ✧ This set was made with jel dessert (vegan jello), asparagus, and train figures in a pie dish. So many of you have been curious to see behind-the-scenes footage or a hyperlapse of me creating one of these scenes... so if you are interested, check out @rei’s latest IGTV video! 🥳 ✧ #ErinsGreatIndoors #OurGreatIndoors

A post shared by Erin Sullivan (@erinoutdoors) on Apr 21, 2020 at 1:48pm PDT

View this post on Instagram

A peaceful morning fishing together on Tinfoil Lake 🌅😉 ✧ The images in this series might be fun and whimsical (I hope they appear that way to you!), but I create them from my memories or from feelings of places I have been, which feel rooted and meaningful to me. ✧ I grew up next to the Long Island Sound, and my grandpa used to take us out on his little boat when I was a kid. My cousin and I would be stuffed into orange lifejackets, two messy blonde heads on the front of the boat feeling like we were flying. On summer days we’d go stand on the pier and try to catch something. And though I never really had the patience for fishing growing up, it was always about the time spent together anyway. ✧ This image was created with tin foil, a toothbrush, a lamp under a sheet, and tiny people from a train set. Lots of questions on where to get them–– simply search for model train figures online and you’ll find lots of options. 😊 More BTS in my stories and highlight on my page. ✧ #ErinsGreatIndoors #OurGreatIndoors

A post shared by Erin Sullivan (@erinoutdoors) on Apr 15, 2020 at 8:51am PDT

View this post on Instagram

A soak & steam in Onion Springs 🧖‍♀️ Despite the erm… fragrant smell… these waters are quite ✨rejuvenating✨ AND 100% natural! It almost seems as though these tubs were hand-picked and expertly crafted into the perfect hot pools 🤯 ✧ Hopefully this adds a bit of whimsy to your day, but let it be a reminder to take care of yourself too, whatever that looks like. Whatever your therapy is. However you can be kind to yourself, your mind, your spirit, your body, take the time you can to do that. Easy does it. ♥️ ✧ Materials used in this set: onions, water, model train figures, palo santo for steam + more steam/smoke added in photoshop after. Enjoy the BTS of my tears from the onions. ✧ #ErinsGreatIndoors #OurGreatIndoors

A post shared by Erin Sullivan (@erinoutdoors) on May 1, 2020 at 11:02am PDT

View this post on Instagram

The beauty of the ✨Glowing Gore-Tex Cave✨ ✧ Yesterday this idea was nagging at me all afternoon. I believe that ideas come from somewhere beyond us. When they ask you to pay attention to them, I’ve found that it is best to listen! I heard “create a glow worm cave tonight”… and so… here we are. Is it creativity or just quarantine? Gotta say I believe it’s the creativity. ✧ The set-up for this is tin-foil on a cutting board, 2 books with rain jackets draped over them, paper with holes poked in it, a smart lightbulb set to teal behind that, train figures, and the rock they are standing on is a hunk of rose quartz. Inspired by how it feels to be in a glow worm cave in New Zealand. ✧ Got an idea relentlessly poking at you? That idea wants to be out in the world. Put it into action 🐛 #ErinsGreatIndoors #OurGreatIndoors

A post shared by Erin Sullivan (@erinoutdoors) on Apr 8, 2020 at 10:44am PDT

View this post on Instagram

Something kinda simple and sappy today 💓 and maybe a little saucy if you look at the hand placement... 😂🍑 ✧ My partner and I have been dating for a year, and I wanted to create an image based on somewhere we have gone together. Here is a sunset inspired by Black Elk Peak in South Dakota, made from cut pieces of paper I glued together. A light behind it creates the illusion of mountain layers. 🤓 ✧ This one is for you @thejoehenderson. You are an absolute trip. Thank you for making me laugh. For listening so well, even when it doesn’t make sense to you. For being a kickass Robin sometimes. For hiking with me at night and for stopping to listen to frogs. For helping me learn how to slow down. For trying to build fires even when they don’t work out for you. For listening to me practice my TED Talk 28912 times. For making me breakfast while I write. For asking good questions. Thank you so much for proving every love story I have ever heard wrong and creating this one with me. ✧ Lots of folks have found my work lately because of this #OurGreatIndoors series. If you are new here, welcome 👋 You might guess that you are in for images and stories from around the world, once travel can happen again. But you should know that I also share thoughts & rambles that are sometimes challenging, sometimes complicated, and often vulnerable. The invitation here is always rather simple; it is for you to create and experience your life, and your part in this world, with more intention. ✧ #ErinsGreatIndoors #OurGreatIndoors

A post shared by Erin Sullivan (@erinoutdoors) on Apr 18, 2020 at 10:18am PDT

View this post on Instagram

For the perfect weekend adventure, may I recommend a trip to the Great Pancake Canyon? This weekend, Syrup River was flowing. Maybe it’s due to the rain we’ve had?? Not sure…. any of you specialize in pancake science and can speak to this? Anyway, this was a truly unique experience with fantastic views from both below and above. Also great breakfast available. 🥞 ✧ Camera info: Sony a7Riii & 90mm f2.8 Macro lens. Materials: Literally just pancakes, syrup, and model train figures. ✧ Want to create your own outdoor-inspired adventure while staying home? Post & tag #OurGreatIndoors or follow along with the hashtag to see what this community is creating. Or if you’ve got another project you’re working on, I would love to hear about it! Or if you are doing nothing, that’s OK too! Take care of yourself! ✧ Thanks to my pancake expert @thejoehenderson for helping with this adventure. Who knows where we will go next… 😂 #ErinsGreatIndoors • #OurGreatIndoors

A post shared by Erin Sullivan (@erinoutdoors) on Apr 6, 2020 at 2:35pm PDT

[via Bored Panda, images by Erin Outdoors and featured with permission]