We had the good fortune of connecting with Briana Gallo and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Briana, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
Since I can remember I had a camera in my hand and have always loved to travel. I live for the moments where I can immerse myself completely in a new culture.
About 15 years ago I started working as an international photographer and a photo philanthropist. I worked in Cuba, Honduras, Vietnam, Europe, New Orleans, Spain, Ethiopia and Nepal. Each experience has inspired me to search for those communities where there is a story to be told. I have learned over the years how to use my camera to forge real connections with communities.
About 6 years ago a dear friend of mine said, “I wish I could do what you do, but I’m too scared”. This statement was the drive behind expanding my free lance business into small intimate travel business – Driftwood Adventure Treks.
I love helping individuals step out of their comfort zone, explore cultures, challenge themselves artistically and physically. My trips are very culturally sensitive and catered to individuals goals and focus. I use photography to help people see through a variety of lenses. One of my favorite quotes is “Courage is the power to step out of the familiar”.
I started Driftwood Adventure Treks to help people do just that – step out of the familiar in a culturally safe way.
What should our readers know about your business?
What makes Driftwood Adventure Treks different? We are a very small boutique travel company. The group size is 8 people max. Our trips are a variety of experiences from trekking Nepal, photo tours and cultural immersion with the Tribes of Ethiopia or learning from and working with local artisans in Oaxaca, Mexico. We have local partners in the countries in which we travel. Our goal is to give our clients a personal experience from the minute they sign up. My clients come from all backgrounds, those who have never picked up a camera to those that have been shooting photography their whole life. I even have clients that come for the cultural immersion and adventure, not photography, they love it as well. The photo workshops in my trips allow time and space for travelers to get to know the cultures they are traveling in with more depth. We also volunteer and give back to the local communities we work with.
A common challenge with travel has of course been COVID, but we are back up and running. I personally used COVID as a time to create more connections and design more trips with a broader interests, such as our new trip to Oaxaca. Mexico and a future trip to Shikoku, Japan.
I feel like I am where I am today because of my partners and connections in the countries we travel. without their expertise, organization skills and contacts Driftwood Adventure Treks wouldn’t be what we are today.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I love hosting friends and family in San Diego. We start off with an amazing breakfast at The Coffee Cup on Wall street. then we walk through the village of La Jolla to go visit the seals at Childrens Beach. On the way home we have stop at Winansea Beach to climb on the rocks, watch the surfers and play in the waves. To finish off the day we LOVE grabbing pizza at our favorite local pizza place in Bird Rock, Wheat and Water.
Mission bay is another fav spot of ours. We will stop by the Pedego store to rent electric bikes. then we set out to bike around the bay ending at Jardn restaurant in Pacific Beach to grab a salad and maybe some sushi while we people watch on the boardwalk.
Torrey Pines is a must do hike – we watch the tides so we can hike the whole loop walking back on the beach. If you are lucky you can collect quite a bit of sea glass!!! You may notice a theme here, we ALWAYS find a fun lunch spot and in this case we head to Viewpoint Brewing Company. A nap is usually a must after a long hike and lunch. Dinner that night at Puesto in La Jolla – best street tacos. there even have a special taco not on the menu. Lobster and steak – ask for it, you won’t regret it!
Sunsets are a must in San Diego. There are so many places we love go to watch the sunset. Sunset Cliffs in Point Loma, or over at La Jolla Shores. Sometimes we will stop at LJ Crafted Wines and pick up a growler to take to Calumet Park for a sunset picnic.
Have littles?? Love love Birch Aquarium, there is also a hidden swing walk that is a blast with youngins, easy trails that end with secret swings!
Lastly, we always go downtown. If we have time the San Diego Zoo is the BEST, but if there just isn’t enough days we will stroll through Balboa Park, i of course love the photography museum! Then end the day in Little Italy. Kettner Exchange is a favorite of mine, but there are so many restaurants down there you can’t go wrong.
I could go on an on, but by now my friends are usually on their way home. What I love best about San Diego is that there will always be something fun to come back and do!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I’d have to give a Shout Out to Lorne Resnick. Back in the 2000’s I was lucky enough to travel with him with a photo group to Havana, Cuba. It was my first experience working with a photo group, I remember it like it was yesterday! Lorne not only had many pearls of wisdom, he was an incredible teacher and mentor. As I teach today I find myself quoting him to help my clients find an image they want.
He teaches his students how to not only see an image but how to capture feel, especially with portraits. Lorne taught me how to use my camera and my body language to connect my subjects. He would say, “banter is one of the key component to making a connection with people”. He found that this opened the door to get those amazing shots full of emotion and authenticity.
Many photographers, including myself, will hide behind a zoom lens rather than get up close. Lorne used to say, “There is an invisible finger between your shoulder blades pushing you to take that step, get closer – make a connection”. I use his saying today not only when I teach, but when I feel myself struggling to connect I can hear his words and I just jump in.
I love that he teaches photography in a way that is inclusive. Some photographers are possessive over their subjects. Lorne was the first teacher I had that told me to go ahead and shoot exactly what he was photographing. He celebrates that everyone has a different style/technique when it comes too photography.
Instagram: @driftwoodadventuretreks or @gallobriana