The Pierre T. Lambert Podcast Transcripts: Etienne Claret – How Spending 30 Days In The Dark For A Shoot with Mike Horn Transformed (#51)
Please enjoy this transcript of my interview with Etienne Claret, a Swiss photographer and filmmaker who is documenting the adventures of famous explorer Mike Horn. He shares his crazy story on how he got to work with Mike Horn and the adventures he’s been on lately.
Etienne also shares what he learned from those experiences, and as a quick teaser, you’ll learn what happened when he spent a full month in full darkness on the ice, stuck on the boat.
Transcripts may contain a few typos. With some episodes lasting 2+ hours, it can be difficult to catch minor errors. Enjoy!
Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Clever, Google Podcasts, or on your favorite podcast platform.
Etienne Claret on How Spending 30 Days In The Dark For A Shoot with Mike Horn Transformed – The Pierre T. Lambert Podcast
Pierre Lambert owns the copyright in and to all content in and transcripts of The Pierre T. Lambert Podcast, with all rights reserved, as well as his right of publicity.
This interview was transcribed by Descript.com.
Pierre Lambert: Good morning podcast and welcome to the Pierre T. Lambert Show. I hope you’re having an amazing day and that you’re ready for yet another episode with an incredible guest, and my guest this time is Etienne Claret. Etienne is a Swiss photographer and filmmaker, and he’s currently documenting the adventures of the Explorer Mike Horn around the world, so to appreciate what Etienne is doing, what he’s documenting, you need to understand. Mike Horn, Mike Horn is an adventurer of the 21st century. In the nineties, he swam down from the source of the Amazon River, all the way down into the ocean, which took about 6,000 kilometers. He would sleep for 10 days straight on his little raft while swimming in the middle of the river, not reaching any shore. He got taken by Pygmies, almost died there and there’s so many adventures. Then two years later, he decided to go around the world on latitude zero. Meaning not leaving the equator on the straight line, sailing, biking, walking with a machete through the jungle, through the desert, and on top of that, he also has a lot of Arctic expeditions, for example, reaching the north pole during the winter months, which means three months in full darkness, pulling a sled on the ice, almost falling and dying many times, but making it out and I’ll pass on all the expeditions because there’s many more but just to give you a little bit of context, this is a person that pushes the boundaries of what is possible or what you think is even imaginable, what humans can do. So Etienne has been, for the past year, following his adventures and sharing all of those adventures on YouTube. He’s been creating the content. He’s been creating amazing videos and I can’t wait to share with you the behind-the-scenes, how it works out for him, how he got there, and what he learned from those experiences, and as a quick teaser, you’ll learn what happened when he spent a full month in full darkness on the ice, stuck on the boat. All right. If you’re ready, let’s welcome. Etienne to the podcast and let’s get right into this awesome discussion. Welcome to the podcast, Etienne.
Etienne Claret: Thanks, Pierre. I’m glad I’m here.
Pierre Lambert: I’m super pumped to have you on the podcast, Etienne because I think anyone listening right now might have had a little bit of context with the intro, but they don’t know the extent of what you’re shooting and how you’re kind of documenting what you’re doing and I’m super excited for two reasons to have you here. First of all, let me tell you how I found your work. I found it through Mike Horn’s channel and I was like, dude, those vlogs, those videos that he’s putting out right now. I know it’s not him doing it, someone’s behind it and it’s really good work, so I had to figure out who it was and that’s how I landed on you, and I was like, nice plus you are French-speaking and I was like, the French team is here, but you’re from Switzerland, right?
Etienne Claret: Yes. I’m from Switzerland. I’m glad you found out who was behind the vlog because I’m super excited to speak with you now and share a bit of my experience.
Pierre Lambert: I know, and I looked at some of those transitions when you’re flying the drone between the sails on the sailboat. I was like, that’s so skilled. It’s a little risky because if you crash it in the Arctic, I know you won’t get it back. I mean, it’s going to be difficult, so we’ll dig into that. But do you have spare drones when you go there?
Etienne Claret: We have a couple of spare drones, because for example, during the last expedition, it was in Svalbard, so between Great London, Norway, and if you lose your drone, of course, you can really get a new one, so you have to have some spare drones, and a fun fact during the last expedition, we lost three drones, so you have to be prepared because I love flying close to stuff and between stuff, because that’s how, in my opinion, you get the craziest shots, so it comes with a price.
Pierre Lambert: It comes with the price. We’re going to talk geek right now. What drones do you do?
Etienne Claret: I used the DJI Mavic pro 2, for one reason, because it’s really handy to carry. We are always on the move, doing sports, doing small expeditions and stuff, so I have something small that you can just carry, pop out and just fly straight out of the bag, so that’s what I use, also because the quality is, is awesome. I mean, for the size, it’s awesome, so it’s just what I need.
Pierre Lambert: That’s perfect. Okay. Alright. Geek talk is over. Now, I want to hear about something super important. Etienne right now, you’re documenting, I will say, one of the craziest expedition leaders or an adventurer of all time. How on earth you landed? What was the first discussion you ever had about it?
Etienne Claret: I knew Mike’s daughters because they live in Switzerland, around the same town and they used to see my work before. I was working for a professional snowboarder, also doing videos and content creation for him, and they knew what I was doing. They liked it, so last year, that’s when it all started. I was in Japan, doing a big trip in Asia and I receive a call saying, Hey, Etienne, Mike is leaving for his big next expedition, but we have no one that can shoot it. Can you come? You have to be here in Alaska in a week and I was in Japan, I don’t know what I wanted to do, but of course, I wanted to go. But then I would have to go back to Switzerland, get my stuff ready, flight to Alaska in a pretty short period, but that was a huge opportunity, of course, so I decided to do it. I flew back to Switzerland, got my winter stuff ready, flew to Alaska, and that’s the first time I met Mike and how we all started.
Pierre Lambert: Did you know what you were going to do? Was it like, Hey, we need you now and you’d just grab anything.
Etienne Claret: I didn’t know it’s the first steps with the boats because Mike was busy preparing his stuff, his daughters as well, Annika and Jessica has a lot to do, preparing stuff and that’s a big expedition so obviously you’ve got a lot of organization to do, so I just arrived in Alaska and then started shooting. I didn’t know what piece of content we wanted to release, and then, we had to get ready for a week in Nome, Alaska, and then starting started sailing up north, and on the way, we got time to speak with Mike, with the crew, and he started explaining to us what we were up to, which was dropping him off. The further north we could drop him off so he could trust the Arctic ocean and end up Northern Svalbard.
Pierre Lambert: What year was that?
Etienne Claret: It was last year.
Pierre Lambert: 2019, right?
Etienne Claret: Yes. A year ago. That was his latest expedition and it all started there.
Pierre Lambert: That’s awesome. You were going to drop Mike and then you wouldn’t be following him because I imagine you would have had zero preparation.
Etienne Claret: The goal was really to film the drop-off, so it was maybe two weeks sailing. That was my first time sailing on a boat.
Pierre Lambert: No way. How did that go?
Etienne Claret: Awesome. I didn’t get seasick, so I was very lucky. It was one week sailing up to the ice and then one week into the ice, trying to find our way between the big ice blocks, and the main challenge was to go as far north as we could go because if we didn’t end up north enough, he couldn’t manage to do his expedition. After all, it was 90 days the ice. It’s a long period and they’ve got to prove their sleds. It was a challenge and the crew didn’t know how to sail in the ice, obviously because no one does that. You don’t have a reason to stay on the ice, so at the same time, when we were into the ice, you had to learn How to navigate, how to help the crew and that was a real challenge because, at that time when we arrived into the ice, filming was secondary. First, you had to help this expedition be a success. We had to pull the rudder, which is the bar at the back of the boat that keeps the direction, when we eat ice, we had to pull it, so it didn’t break, and there was someone on top of the mast who gave the direction because the mast is 30 meters up, so we put someone in the mast who shouts down to the one that is at the wheel and like 30 degrees to starboard and just shouts to give the directions, so obviously no one that was on the boat ever did that before, so you had to learn first and then create content.
Pierre Lambert: That’s so funny. What was your mental state at that point? Do you feel you don’t know what I’m doing? I know what I’m doing. I’m going to try because shooting in those conditions is difficult, right? It’s like you want to help, but you also want to do your photographer and videographer’s job at the same time. How were you balancing that?
Etienne Claret: Not easy. You first want to help them because you know, it has to be a success, otherwise, we just go home and you don’t even start the expedition, so on the boat, it was organized. We had watched, so we did a sheet where it says, Etienne and Mike, for example, between eight and 10, you have to take care of the boat, so during my watches, I wasn’t filming because I had a task to do, and normally after you watch it, you go to sleep because it’s tiring to do that. It’s cold, it’s physical, so you go to sleep, but if I wasn’t so tired, I would start filming now, when my watch was over, but the main focus was always to help people on the boat.
Pierre Lambert: Okay. That’s good. I’m so surprised because it’s a lot to do at once, and if you’re creating at the same time, it’s a little bit more pressure.
Etienne Claret: It was tough to get my mind straight to what I wanted to create because that was secondary, so I’ve had art time had my creative process, so we just shoot here and there, and then at the end, when we dropped him off, start thinking of what piece of content I would start to create, so it’s not the best process you can have, but I’m pretty happy with what came out.
Pierre Lambert: Yeah. It sounds like you were trying to grab any shot. You couldn’t figure out how to blend and bind them together later. Did you know at that moment that the team told you what they wanted to do? What kind of video or was it for YouTube already? I don’t know if the YouTube channel had started back then?
Etienne Claret: No. He had a YouTube channel but didn’t release a video on it, so it was mostly on Instagram, small pieces of content explaining how you navigate into the ice, how you prepare your stuff for the expedition? What would you take? Informative stuff. That was it, and then photos, to update the people on what was going on.
Pierre Lambert: That’s awesome. Let’s backtrack a little bit because now you’re in the middle of the ice on a sailboat going, nowhere. Had you ever imagined that earlier in your life? Was that a goal to go in and document?
Etienne Claret: It wasn’t, I mean, I’ve always liked to travel and document stuff like this, but I can’t say was a goal to do expeditions and stuff like this because it’s very uncommon, so it didn’t even come through my mind that it was possible. I had this opportunity and decided to jump, but it wasn’t a goal. My goal is always to bring positive emotions through creating content, and that’s a good way to do it, especially since we started YouTube because there’s a big audience following Mike, so that’s one big step closer to my goal.
Pierre Lambert: We’ll get to that part because the community aspect, I feel like as a viewer, has been huge lately, especially through YouTube. We’ll get to that part, but I’m curious. How did you get into video in the first place? When you were a kid, were you into video? What’s your origin story if you want?
Etienne Claret: It started seven years ago in Switzerland. You can do what’s called apprenticeship where you just learn a job in the company and that’s what I was doing after my graduation. It’s called mediamaticien, which is kind of the Swiss knife of media, so you learn how to do websites, marketing, photos, videos, and that’s when it all started then, besides my job, as I started doing small, funny ski videos with my friends, because I live in a ski resort, and from there, people that I knew came and asked me, Hey, can you do a video for us for this event, for this company, and I started doing free videos for the people I knew, and then people like what I was doing, so they speak with their friends and etcetera, so I started having more and more demand, and that’s how it all started.
Pierre Lambert: That’s awesome. I love to hear that because that’s something I’ve found with a lot of other guests also, and hopefully, anyone listening and doesn’t matter necessarily which business, but for us, for example, in photography and video, a lot of it is like you were doing it for fun and then people find your work interesting and then they’re like, Hey, actually I could need some help on that and then that’s how it kind of snowballs, into something more long-term which I love to hear it. It’s pretty good. I always remind people to just do stuff for free. You don’t know what comes out of it.
Etienne Claret: That’s exactly. When people ask me for advice, that’s the single advice I give them. You have to start doing stuff for free because then people will eventually speak about you between them and the paid work comes later, you have to get known first, develop your portfolio and your skills, and then it comes after.
Pierre Lambert: Yeah, I feel like people sometimes want to rush it. I’m just going to start charging, but even though you compress that period, let’s say you were shooting every day or three or five times a week, that period where you’re shooting for free and trying and trying is so important. It teaches you a lot.
Etienne Claret: Exactly. That’s not the best period. It can be tough and it can be pretty long because it always takes a couple of years to develop your skill. But I think it’s the battery period that you have to go through to live from what you like.
Pierre Lambert: Yeah, it is, and if it’s difficult financially, have another job on the side, so you don’t have to sacrifice your creativity for money. It’s a fine line at one point. Let’s get back into the Etienne, who is in the middle of the ice, right now. I want to dig into how did the YouTube part come into place. From that moment where you shooting those small clips and you’re sharing them on Instagram, what’s the thought process and what happened since then because I feel like it changed a lot.
Etienne Claret: Yeah, you changed a lot. I have to start by telling a story. That’s how it all started, so, we dropped off Mike in the middle of the Arctic, then he crossed the Arctic ocean and I went on another boat on the other side to pick him up then, we got stuck in the ice for a month with these boats, so we spent the whole month.
Pierre Lambert: One month?
Etienne Claret: Total darkness, no internet, no cellular, nothing, so that’s when it started because we’ve got a lot of time to think because we don’t have anything else to do. We just have to wait for the ice to break up and free us, so you’ve got 24 hours with yourself just to think. That wasn’t easy, but that was very productive in terms of thinking, and this expedition was one of the last Mike would do because it’s engaged. I mean, he risks his life every expedition and this one was especially tough, so he had to find a way to do things differently and renew him because he wouldn’t do a big expedition, never again, so that’s when we started on the boat, trying to think of a way more to share his knowledge, what he learned through 30 years of expedition and exploration and inspire people, just exploring, going outside, do their best, so that’s when we started doing, we started talking about doing your YouTube channel because that’s the best platform to share your knowledge. That was in December 2019 then, we came back from the ice in March, in April COVID enter, so we were stuck in Switzerland, Mike as well, just so you know, he spent 32 days at home during the last five years, so it was very exceptional for him because he was stuck at home pretty long period, so that was perfect for us because that allowed us to start the YouTube channel because we didn’t have anything else to do, and we started in April doing two videos each week, just sharing his knowledge and his expeditions and stuff like that, and that picked up pretty quickly.
Pierre Lambert: That’s awesome. Can you tell me more about that one month in darkness on the boat? The first question that came to my mind, did your parents know you were stuck on the boat? Did they think you were dead or did you have a way to tell them, I’m still alive, we’re just waiting for the ice to melt.
Etienne Claret: I didn’t have a way to speak to them, but, Annika and Jessica were in Switzerland, so they could speak with my family and they didn’t know as well what was going on, but they knew we weren’t in danger, but we were stuck so they could explain to them, but it’s a crazy story because I was supposed to leave just for a week. We had two days sailing up north, then we had to pick him up, then two days sailing down and I would be back home, but it didn’t go as planned, so it was a boat that they used before to hunt seals, so it was made to resist the ice, but not to break the ice.
Pierre Lambert: It wasn’t a sailboat was it?
Etienne Claret: No. It wasn’t a sailboat.
Pierre Lambert: Okay. It wasn’t Mike’s, I think the name is Pangaea.
Etienne Claret: Yes.
Pierre Lambert: Okay.
Etienne Claret: No, it wasn’t Pangaea because it was too engage and Pangaea isn’t equipped to go into the ice during the darkness because you need to have big lights and lots of crew, so he wasn’t equipped, so they decided to take another boat, which was this boat, but it’s not made to break the ice, so
Pierre Lambert: Made you stay stuck in the ice.
Etienne Claret: The ice was too thick to just go through so when waiting for them, the ice starting to come around us and just put a lot of pressure on the boats and it’s really strong between the currents and the winds, the ice moved quite fast, and then it started going under the boat. The boat was really as if it was on land and, uh, the mothers weren’t strong enough to put it out, so we had to wait for nature to decide to let us go. It took one month, but it could have taken, I don’t know, three months.
Pierre Lambert: The whole winter.
Etienne Claret: We got lucky. The whole winter.
Pierre Lambert: Who was with you on the boat?
Etienne Claret: There was a lot of Norwegians, ice specialists, and navigation crew, and then there was one French reporter who was with me. I’m glad he was with me because at least I could speak French with someone and not Norwegian, so we were maybe 10, 12 on the boat.
Pierre Lambert: Was Mike with you? That was the way back or the way in?
Etienne Claret: On the way, we went in, we picked them up and then a hundred meters later, we were stuck in the ice and that’s where we spent three following weeks, so Mike was with us at this stage.
Pierre Lambert: What was your mental state on it? Because I imagine, did you even expect that? That was a possibility? Did you know? Or were you like, oh, in two days I’m back home.
Etienne Claret: Yeah, I wasn’t expecting that. No, wasn’t expecting that, so it was tough at the first sight because you don’t have anything to do, and then the Norwegian would say, okay, we’ll come and help you with our icebreaker, but then it wouldn’t happen, so you had hope for today, two days and then the hope would fade away, so it was tough to manage that and be okay, you should just wait and see, and you don’t have any influence on what’s going on, so just wait, think, you do your thinking and that’s it, but it was tough to manage because that’s not usual, and it’s only darkness outside, so you don’t even have a tiny bit of light. It’s black, 24/7, 24 hours a day so it’s tough, but I’m glad Mike was back because then he had a lot of stories to explain to us, and we could start speaking about the future and the YouTube channels and project like that, which was exciting.
Pierre Lambert: I imagine, in the way, those moments are invaluable in terms of creating connections that you might not have had the opportunity.
Etienne Claret: Yeah. That’s a tough situation. When you create bonds between people, and we ended up spending Christmas on the boat, and during Christmas Mike made the speech and he said, you could have spent Christmas at home, which would have been a Christmas like the following 20 or 30 Christmas, but this one is very special. You didn’t want to be here, but now you’re here and you will remember it for the rest of your life because that’s Christmas stuck in the ice, so appreciate the moment, and remember it. That was inspiring.
Pierre Lambert: Yeah. I imagine. Still, for anyone listening, I want them to close their eyes and imagine that when they opened, it’s dark outside and when they wake up, it’s dark, and when they go to bed, it’s dark, and when they go for lunch, it’s dark.
Etienne Claret: Well, that was tough, and you don’t have anything that drives you. You don’t want to wake up because it’s going to be another day stuck in the ice, having nothing to do, so you’re just happy when you go to lunch or dinner.
Pierre Lambert: In a way, you experienced the astronaut lifestyle because I just read that NASA is training the people who go in space to train them in the Arctic and on ice, during the dark month. I was like, oh, interesting, so you passed the test, you didn’t kill the crew and leave with a speeding ticket.
Etienne Claret: Yeah, exactly. That’s a great test for sure. I recommend it.
Pierre Lambert: Recommended it? That’s awesome. Now you created those awesome bonds and you edited 25 times the same video. I’m joking. Did you edit anything? Could you edit?
Etienne Claret: Yeah, I could edit. I have my computer. We did three video series, so I had time to polish it.
Pierre Lambert: Yeah. I imagined. Let me change the key frame right there for the hundredth time. That’s so cool. What happened? How did it snowball afterward? You’re now in Switzerland, it’s COVID times, and what happens? What did you guys decide? How did it snowball, because the channel, I think the first video is in Switzerland is the first shoot that I’ve seen. Just for the story for anyone listening, Mike Horn, I remember reading his latitudes zero books back in maybe 2006, 2005, when I was way younger, and I was like, wow, this is so crazy, and then when I became familiar with the social media, the world of like photography, etc., on the English side of things, in the U S et cetera, I noticed no one knew Mike Horn. In the adventure world, not many people knew him. It was more like Europeans would know him, and that’s so interesting because to me it was the ultimate adventure, right? It was a 21st-century adventure going around the world on latitude zero with no help, like crossing them as in who was a machete and stuff, which just sounded stupid and amazing. Both at the same time and when I started travel vlogging, It feels such a luxury. Should I have people like my own vlog? That would have been the ultimate thing, and then three years later, here we go. Etienne and Mike are starting a YouTube channel.
Etienne Claret: Yeah. It all started because Mike’s, Mike’s knowledge is massive. He experienced a lot of stuff. He knows how to survive in the jungle, in the Arctic. He knows how to climb the 8,000 peaks, and we were just discussing, and what came out is that he has to share this knowledge, he learned during the 30 years of exploration, He shouldn’t keep it for himself, so it can be beneficial for each and everyone who wants to listen to it. We just decided to go full and inspire people, send his experience and that’s it.
Pierre Lambert: Mike is a good speaker, right? Was it difficult to have him speak on camera?
Etienne Claret: No, it’s very natural because he did lots of conferences, so he’s used to sharing his experience and his knowledge. That’s easy to do.
Pierre Lambert: What made you go in French versus going in English for the video? I was very curious.
Etienne Claret: Well, that was a lot of conversations we had, so first he made TV in France, so his audience was mainly French. What made us decide to go, French is that the French are active on YouTube. They like to follow their YouTubers and they’re engaged with them and, if you compare the engaging rates between, English Youtubers and French YouTubers, you can see a difference in engagement and that’s what made us decide to go French.
Pierre Lambert: It was a good call having two channels, one in French, one in English. I can the difference. I mean, there are fewer people in French, but the community is more active. They’re just more engaged. English, you touching everyone in the world. It could be people from India, Malaysia, Australia, the us, UK. It’s so broad that sometimes it’s difficult for anyone to feel connected to the other person. Yes, you can, but it’s more like, I inspire versus, I feel that person, it’s my buddy from the same village in France.
Etienne Claret: Exactly. Exactly. I think we made the right choice, but it doesn’t mean we won’t go to the US or in English one day. That’s one of the goals, but to start and create his audience. I think that’s a great choice.
Pierre Lambert: Yeah, that’s a good choice and everything is subtitled, so if you’re listening to the podcast, go watch the videos because there are subtitles and I think you guys subtitled them, so it’s not just random YouTube translation that add various strange words sometimes. It’s a good translation. Mike also speaks well English. In his English, he has way less accent in English. He has an accent, but then in French, which was so surprising to me the first time I heard it.
Etienne Claret: Yeah, so he comes from, South Africa, so his first language is Africans, but then they learn very quickly English, so he speaks English more than French. He learned when he came to Switzerland.
Pierre Lambert: That’s cool. What about you? When did you learn English? Because your English is really good now. I think Swiss people are better at languages than French people. Swiss and Germans are always way better than French people. It’s like eight years later of English classes, French people can say hi, and that’s it, and then you have a Swiss and Germans who are perfectly fluent and we’re like, something’s wrong in our education?
Etienne Claret: That’s funny because we have to learn in the French part of Switzerland, we have to learn German first because that’s the national language, and then you start learning English, but it’s just watching series and reading books and stuff like this. That got me learning English.
Pierre Lambert: It’s funny because it’s the same for me. It’s the day I decided. Watch all night TV, my movies, or whatever in English, and I was like, I’m even going to try to read in English.
Etienne Claret: Yeah, and then it comes pretty easily once you were into it.
Pierre Lambert: That’s awesome, so creativity, how does it work for you? Do you have full creative control and are you able to experiment with your ideas? Tell me how do you feel creatively?
Etienne Claret: Yeah. I’m free. We have a lot of discussion on video ideas and topics and stuff like that, but creative-wise, I’m free and, and I can film what I want to film and Mike doesn’t say anything about it, so that’s great. I enjoy it. Especially, when we are in the exploration mode. That’s interesting to vlog in those places because you see Mike come alive if I can say. After all, that’s his element, and he’s got plenty of tips to share and you can see him like he’s a different person, and I enjoy sharing that.
Pierre Lambert: The true self comes out.
Etienne Claret: Exactly, exactly.
Pierre Lambert: Is it the same for you? Do you feel that you’re in your element when you were starting to shoot in those conditions?
Etienne Claret: Not in my element because, it’s tough conditions, but I enjoy it more than just recording at Mike’s home and in the studio and stuff like that because you have to be engaged to film. It’s not just filming the CD or stuff like that. You have to be engaged, try to follow him, and I enjoyed droning in these areas as well.
Pierre Lambert: Wait. Sorry, geeking again. How long does the drone battery last in the Arctic?
Etienne Claret: It’s tough, when we were stuck in the ice, I could drone for 20 minutes at minus 25.
Pierre Lambert: That’s good.
Etienne Claret: It’s tough.
Pierre Lambert: Okay. I’m pretty impressed. That’s amazing. What do you shoot with? What do you?
Etienne Claret: I use a Canon 1DX MK II, and then Canon lenses as well. I’d like to switch to something smaller because that’s more ND when we, you run around and walk around on glaciers and stuff like that but, in my opinion, there’s no equal to the 1DX yet, so just have to be patient and wait,
Pierre Lambert: What’s the one thing that makes you not be able to change?
Etienne Claret: The 1DX is just perfect for me because it’s good in photos and videos as well. That’s my top criteria when I look for a camera because I do both and Sony can be good as well, but in my opinion, there’s no equal yet. I’m waiting for that which has like the A7S3 in videos, but more capable in photos as well.
Pierre Lambert: Got it. Interesting. What about the R5?
Etienne Claret: Yeah, I see you laugh when asking the questions. That’s the overheating problem.
Pierre Lambert: No, I’m laughing. I’m half laughing because they did such a bad job, in my opinion, at launching the product and marketing because the friends who have it, said it’s amazing in a photo. It’s great for anyone who never touched anything better than a Canon camera, that’s the1DX mark two or 5D mark four. They’re impressed by the dynamic range. I’m not going to brag about Sony, but I’m very used to crazy dynamic ways, so that’s a good point.
Etienne Claret: On paper. It looked perfect and I was already like, I’m going to get this buddy because that’s perfect for me. Their smaller status is stabilized and stuff like that, but then when it came out and their first review started to be released, I was like no.
Pierre Lambert: I think we have to wait for a year to see how it’s going to pan out with the updates and with everything and if it’s reliable or not. I don’t think they expected that.
Pierre Lambert: I don’t think they realize how strong YouTube is and everyone is online nowadays because I think that they search to create a camera that’s amazing and limited, so people buy something else. Sony is very focused. They’re like, you want to do everything on the budget? You take the A73. Do you want to do photography? Great. You take your A7R4 or A92 and then you want to do a video? Amazing. I don’t know if you’ve seen a lot of footage of the S3, but I had it. It’s just mind-boggling.
Etienne Claret: It looks crazy. Sony’s good at it, and that’s why I was happy as well for a Canon to release what looked like a good mirrorless because it would bring back competition to Sony, because at this point there’s no competition forSony, in mirrorless cameras, so I was happy, but then it didn’t turn out well.
Pierre Lambert: It turned out for Sony, not for Canon but, Japan, the best-selling camera is our fight, so in Japan, who knows? Pretty surprising. How do you want to take your creative work right now? Where do you want to go? Are you going to tell me more about what you’re envisioning?
Etienne Claret: That’s a great question. I feel really good about where I’m at now because it’s like living a dream. You have to go in places where nobody goes, you can share it with the big audience, so I guess my vision is just to develop, Mike’s audience as far as we can, and try to inspire people to just live their life and don’t put too many barriers in front of their goals and go and do what they want to do. That’s the best platform for this because Mike is inspiring and he’s got the same ideas, plus we got to travel in crazy places and be creative wise. It’s just a dream.
Pierre Lambert: What makes you think when you’re shooting? Can you walk us through your creative process? Let’s say you’re going to do the next episode and let’s take the latest Svalbard expedition you guys did. I think that was during COVID. How thought out were your episodes? Can you walk us through the creative process from the beginning of the project until your release it?
Etienne Claret: We first think of the main subject, the main thing, the main focus, on the video, what we want to, what subject we were gonna go to, and then from there we will just go out to film. Don’t think about the video and, and the creative process takes place during the editing. We don’t plan the videos before it’s just going shooting and then we see what comes out of it, so that’s interesting because, it helps me be like, okay, it’s all going to go. We’re gonna have a good video at the end, don’t worry too much about the shots. You need to just go shoot and see what comes out versus having a list of shots.
Pierre Lambert: You’re like, we missed that one.
Etienne Claret: Exactly. We need to be, not fast, but we want to be productive. We don’t want to spend an hour just doing a shot that’s not possible for us, so we have to go and shoot and see so that that’s good for the mind.
Pierre Lambert: Sailboat, one more, one more run around that iceberg. Please. No, Etienne. No.
Etienne Claret: You cannot really do that, but there is a funny story because last year when we were in the Arctic, my drone was too far away, so we had to turn the whole sailboat just to go and get my drone back. And I was like, shame on me. 15 people are going back just for my drone. This never happened again.
Pierre Lambert: Were people okay or did they ignore you for two days after?
Etienne Claret: No. They were okay
Pierre Lambert: that’s awesome. I love to hear that because I feel like you’re more in the documentation mode versus pure scenario building, and it’s freeing in that. I feel also what we like to see, especially on platforms like YouTube. We’re not trying to watch star wars or the Northern pole expedition. We’re trying to kind of get an insight into the life of someone or what they’re going through as a process, so I think you do a great job telling that aspect and documenting that aspect was Mike which is super helpful, which I love. Do you have anyone helping you shoot or do you shoot everything on your own?
Etienne Claret: No. Most of the time it’s on my own. On certain projects, some people are coming to help us out but most of the time it’s on my own. Coming back to what you said just before, I think the key now on social media is to be authentic and that’s what we’re trying to do. Just be as authentic as possible. Mike, he’s human. He’s like you and me, and that that’s really what we’re trying to share with them, with the wider audience just to show that people are human and that you can just be yourself and do your own thing and that’s good.
Pierre Lambert: I thought Mike was some Greek mythology, protagonist,
Etienne Claret: I thought as well, but he’s an exception.
Pierre Lambert: It’s good to share that and show people. It’s really about what want. I know, in a way, what kind of limits do you put in your mind? What do you want to create? What do you want to do?
Etienne Claret: Exactly and that’s what Mike wants to share. He’s like you and me, but he just has less barriers in his mind. If he has a goal, he set his goal and he goes for it, and that’s one of the key messages is that you set your mind and you set your own goals, and the bigger the goals, the bigger, the achievement, if your goal is small then the achievement is small. That’s one of the key messages we were trying to share.
Pierre Lambert: Speaking of that, when do you feel you’ve learned over that past year? What would you say you’ve learned the most, or that has impacted you.
Etienne Claret: I think that you decide the limit that you set, if you don’t set any limits, you don’t have any limits, and that’s what’s helping me daily to move forward and to develop new projects. You can do what you want. You can do anything you want, as long as you believe in it, and you take the time to do it and the tools and the people around you. I think that’s the most powerful thing I learned from Mike is that you can do anything you want. You just have to go and do it.
Pierre Lambert: Not cheesy, but sounds like a lot of people say it.
Etienne Claret: Yeah, of course. Very simple and very difficult at the same time, and I agreed sounds cheesy, but that’s the first time I experienced and spend time with someone who did it. He didn’t have any money for his first expedition, but anyway, he did it and never did it again since then, and that’s cheesy. I agree. But I think if you live to it, then it takes a different level.
Pierre Lambert: That’s awesome. Well, life is cheesy. Anyway, it’s all about love and kindness and making connections, so life is cheesy. That’s why we love it. I think that’s a great message. I was going to ask you, an awful interview question, but I’m gonna refrain from it. It was one of those, like, what do you think about the future? Which no one cares about? Would you take any of that message and apply it to your project? How would you apply it? Would you have a particular example of a project that may be that you thought was limited or that you couldn’t do, and you may be thinking about it now?
Etienne Claret: I don’t have any big projects except this one, but of course it’s helping me daily just to set my goals differently and just to think differently every day, because if I would set a goal, for example. Now, I would ask myself again, but is it the biggest you can go or can you go bigger and how can you go bigger? It’s a whole different thinking method. It’s helping me daily.
Pierre Lambert: That’s interesting. What part of your experience so far, do you think you’ve learned the most about yourself? How do you feel that what you know about yourself and what you’re capable of has changed in the past year?
Etienne Claret: Great question. I’m sorry. I need to give it a think.
Pierre Lambert: That’s okay.
Etienne Claret: It’s hard to see what has changed and how it changed because you have to do a bit of introspection, which I don’t do often, but I can see it coming from the people around me that would tell me, Etienne that’s great. What you do, that’s great. What you did, and I can see you change and evolve. I think I don’t see it on a personal level, but I can see it from the people around me.
Pierre Lambert: That’s interesting. It sounds like it’s a little bit when you’re on the ice and it’s melting, you don’t see it now because you’re melting with it, but if you come when it’s frozen, then you come back one month later, it’s like a different place.
Etienne Claret: Yeah, exactly. We often say in French, I don’t know, and since we are, always working and trying to do this and that I don’t see us or me evolving because I don’t step back, so that’s why the people around me hugged me, see that.
Pierre Lambert: That’s great. I love that. The best person to tell you to change or not yourself. It’s usually the other.
Etienne Claret: Yes, exactly. Because you’re a bit biased always.
Pierre Lambert: I became so wise and kind, and I’m all about love and your parents are like, no, he’s completely impatient and keeps screaming.
Etienne Claret: Yeah, exactly.
Pierre Lambert: That’s so cool. I love hearing all those stories and how they changed in that. I got to say, I’m excited for what you guys are going to be creating also in the future. You said you guys are going to try to go as big as possible for the audience, et cetera. Do you have a specific goal and you have an expedition coming up now.
Etienne Claret: Our specific goal is to reach 1 million subscribers before the end of the year. I’m just dropping it here.
Pierre Lambert: It looks like you’re on track.
Etienne Claret: Yeah, I hope so, and then, we are trying to plan, but it’s not sure at this stage because of COVID but we are trying to plan to go to South Africa and Namibia because Mike comes from, South Africa, but people never saw where he was coming from in videos and stuff like that, so that would be an interesting subject and then for next year, Mike wants to go to Patagonia with his boats and spend time there, so that’s exciting and I’m sure we’ll be able to create lots of great content and share nature’s beauty with the world.
Pierre Lambert: I noticed you already had traveled to Mongolia, two years ago and you made a travel video around. I’m going on a segway a little bit and I’m self-interested because I am very interested in exploring that region. Have you done other countries in that region?
Etienne Claret: I’ve done a lot of Southeast Asia but Mongolia I think one of my favorites, travel I did before I met Mike, because it’s pretty unknown, and I went there three years ago, so there was no one, and we did the horse ride in Russia, north Mongolia and there’s no one you just see. We saw, one man in a week, so you’d go on your horse and between the mountains and you see the shamans and stuff like this, so it’s an amazing experience. You have to go there and try.
Pierre Lambert: That’s the goal for next year. I don’t know if you know watch Luke, Luke on Instagram. He was a podcast dropped last week and he was sharing that his mom took a photo when she was in the eighties or seventies when she went to Mongolia of a kid who tried her Sony Walkman for the first time, with headphones, and for the end, she captured that expression of him listening to music the first time through an electronic device, and we should go back and find that kid and do a whole story around it.
Etienne Claret: That would be awesome. Honestly, Mongolia is crazy because still to that day, there are probably people who didn’t listen to music in headphones, and that’s what I like, you cannot speak the same language, but we used to play, Uno, for example, with the horse strikes guys, you’re laughing, and even though you don’t understand each other, you understand each other. Those are crazy experiences.
Pierre Lambert: How did you organize the trip? Was it organized by an agency? Or did you do it on your own?
Etienne Claret: No. I’ve got a friend, who’s got a friend who helped a shaman build the house for his family up there.
Pierre Lambert: Wait. Can you backtrack? Wait, everyone’s like, how do you end up helping a shaman build a house in Mongolia?
Etienne Claret: No. He just financed it.
Pierre Lambert: He wasn’t there and suddenly found a shaman.
Etienne Claret: Now he knows a bunch of horsemen up there. That’s good to take us
Pierre Lambert: That’s so cool. It sounds like a great adventure too. That’s awesome. I’m very inspired by your adventure attempt, especially in the COVID time.
Etienne Claret: Yeah. Well, that’s good. It’s a pleasure sharing it. If I can inspire only one person, then that’s good.
Pierre Lambert: A change comes from one person only, you only need one person to change the world.. That’s what they say.
Etienne Claret: That’s true, and usually the first person is yourself.
Pierre Lambert: The most important, Etienne, I think we might do, we might have to do around two in a few months or so, just to give an update and see if you guys reach your goal of one million and keep sharing that because there is something that maybe you can speak about. I feel like a lot of people might see Mike horn, but they don’t see all the backup that’s behind and all the team that is helping also. Can you give a credit to all the people or give us a little bit of insight into that?
Etienne Claret: Well obviously Mike is the first to know that he couldn’t be the man he is without his daughters behind him and his team. He always gives a lot of credits during, for example, his conferences, interviews, and stuff like that. That’s crazy to be part of a team like it, with a man like him because he did some crazy stuff and that’s inspiring for all of us to be able to work with him and try to promote him, and it’s not too bad to be in the shadow because it’s a less, struggle.
Pierre Lambert: I remember his, for the longest time, his presence was fairly small. You would have the book and a conference here and there, but it was very rare for me, even on social media. I think I checked years ago. I was like, well, there isn’t anything, so it’s cool to see him share that with everyone right now, and personally, that reminds me of one thing, that you don’t have to rush into things, meaning you can take 30 years into your expedition, then after 30 years trying to share it. You don’t have to do your expedition, live your best life, share it at the same time. I don’t have to do everything at the same time. Life is long enough.
Etienne Claret: Exactly, and it’s even stronger for him to share it now because everyone knows he did it and they want to hear about it because you didn’t hear about it before, so it’s just a lot of knowledge going into the world and that’s very good.
Pierre Lambert: Well, okay. What’s the best thing you’ve learned, I’m not talking just life guidance, but I’m talking tips or survival or whatever. What is the most useful, the best thing that you’ve learned?
Etienne Claret: I don’t know if it’s most useful, but the one I like most is when you have to hunt a crocodile, you have to look for the space between his eyes. If it’s the size of your hand, then you can hunt him. If it’s the size of your two hands, then it’s him that’s going to hunt you. You don’t have to go. It’s crazy because who can tell you that? Nobody knows.
Pierre Lambert: Who’s going to hunt crocodiles?
Etienne Claret: Yeah, but he knows because he had to eat crocodiles to survive. That’s crazy.
Pierre Lambert: Wait, Mike is not vegetarian during his expedition?
Etienne Claret: Not at all. If you go to have dinner with him and you don’t bring a piece of meat, then you cannot enter his room.
Pierre Lambert: He’s South African, right? It’s the Bri culture. That’s awesome. Etienne, I’m going to be mindful of your time and we can wrap up this episode. We’re going to try to share more in the future and give more voice in your projects also because I’m excited to see. I’m sure you’re going to be coming up with your stuff. Also, I can already imagine a video where it’s like, I spent 30 days in the dark and this is what happened, so Etienne, where should people find you?
Etienne Claret: It’s mostly on Instagram, Etienne Claret, and then, on Mike’s YouTube channel. I don’t put too many videos on my channel for now, but one of my projects is to do one big wrap-up video of all the places I went, but it’s going to take time, and the more I wait, the craziest it’s going to be, so I’m not too stressed about this.
Pierre Lambert: And the longer it’s gonna take to make.
Etienne Claret: Exactly.
Pierre Lambert: That’s awesome. Thank you so much, Etienne, for sharing with us, and keep up the great work it’s inspiring.
Etienne Claret: Thank you. It was a great pleasure to speak with you looking forward to the episode.
The Pierre T. Lambert Podcast is where Pierre interviews the best creatives in the world to share their tips and stories. Enjoy & spread the word to your friends about this podcast! Pierre T. Lambert is a travel & adventure photographer & YouTuber followed by over 600,000 people. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.