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One morning, on a coffee-and-Facebook break, someone from the team at The Great Next found this video by Jaimen, and we discovered a whole new world through the lens of his drone.

That was a long time ago, but it’s still as enthralling as the first time we watched it. We decided we just had to interview a guy like this. Photographer, videographer, ocean enthusiast, and self-described quadriplegic with a quadcopter, Jaimen’s a busy guy, so we’re stoked that he agreed to do this!

Heeerrre’s Jaimen!

The Great Next: Tell us a little about yourself. What do you do for a living? What kind of adventures do you like? What do you do for fun?

Jaimen Hudson: I live in Esperance, Western Australia. I manage our family tourism business. We have two vessels and operate diving charters, fishing charters, island tours and have accommodation. We also have a retail store servicing the diving and fishing industry.

My hobbies since a young age have always been surfing, motorbike riding, skateboarding and diving. I had a motorcycle accident in 2008 leaving me a quadriplegic and confined to a wheelchair. In late 2014, I began getting interested in drone use. Eventually in February 2015, I purchased my first drone and started getting in to filming, editing and taking photos. This is now my biggest hobby.

I also have a handcycle that I enjoy using to stay fit and go for rides with friends. Besides that, like any other 25 year old, I just enjoy catching up with mates and enjoying a few beers!

TGN: How often do you manage to get away and travel?

JH: I was very lucky to travel a lot with my family when I was younger. My father is from England so each year we would travel to visit relatives in Europe. We would often do stop-offs on the way there and back. Some of the more memorable countries I have had the opportunity to experience are Indonesia, Thailand, Italy, France, England, Scotland and Africa.

It is a little more difficult for me to travel since my accident as I need to plan far more seriously around accessible hotels, carers to assist me to get up in the morning etc.

We do still travel to Bali each year for a two to three week break. I love the Balinese people as they have such a lovely nature and will always go out of their way to assist as much as possible. We stay in the Legian area right on the beach and simply spend the days relaxing.

This year I am booked to go and see America and Canada for the first time. My girlfriend is a born and raised Vancouver girl so it will be amazing to see where she grew up. The country side around Vancouver Island looks amazing. So it will be great to get some aerial footage and images while I am there. Of course a few big nights in Vegas are also going to be a highlight, hahahaha!

TGN: We did our homework on you! You’re a surfer and a diver and now adventure videographer. Did the adventure bug bite you young?

JH: Living in Esperance it is pretty hard to not be involved in all the outdoor activities. I literally live right over the road from one of Esperance’s most popular surfing beaches. When I was younger I could wake up early, walk over the road in my boxers to check the surf, go home and grab my board to go surfing. Or if it wasn’t any good, call up some of my mates and go motorbike riding instead.

My interest in diving and boating stems from my parents. Both my mum and dad are diving instructors and have operated diving charters, fishing charters & island tours ever since I have been on the scene. So days out on the water are what I have become accustomed to since a young age.

TGN: We’ve seen your stunning footage of the two Southern White whales checking out your friend while he paddle-boarded in Esperance (thanks for letting us share that, by the way!). How did you manage to capture that? Was it very far off-coast?

JH: Thank you for the lovely compliment. I filmed that in September 2015 and it was a stunning Esperance day. Not a breath of wind around. I was at work during the day and I had my friends phoning me to say that there were whales and dolphins swimming together in the bay of Salmon Beach.

I couldn’t get out of the office until 4pm, so as soon as I did, I got my mate to drive me out there as quickly as possible. After searching a few beaches, we found the whales at the 4th beach.

We arrived and I set my drone up, just as my mate Dave Price was starting to paddle out on his SUP board to go for a surf. The whales swam over to him and seemed to be curious as to what he was. It all happened 50m away from where I was sitting on the footpath.

TGN: We’ve basically stalked you around the internet… and we’re so envious! Tell us how you plan and shoot all those spectacular clips. Do you go out on a boat? What kind of equipment do you use?

JH: I just love being outdoors and by the water. I’m sure to take my drone with me all the time so that if I see any wildlife, I can get straight into filming it. As for my still images, I just look at different things I think will look cool and then photograph them.

A huge part of the fun for me is editing my videos together so that a story comes out of it and I really enjoy editing my still images as well.

TGN: What’s your travel style? Do you like to plan everything or are you more of spontaneous traveller?

JH: I definitely prefer to simply have flights booked to a country and then wing it once we are there. Unfortunately though things are not that simple when you are in a wheelchair. I need to make sure I have a wheelchair-friendly hotel booked, shower chair and carers available. So the holidays I go on are far more planned out these days. I’m certainly not complaining though as I know a lot of people in my situation aren’t lucky enough to be able to travel overseas. I’m very lucky to have great family support.

TGN: Almost everyone we know likes the idea of adventure travel, but there’s also a lot of nervousness and anxiety about trying something new and possibly uncomfortable. What would you like to tell them?

JH: After my accident, I had absolutely no urge to go on a holiday, but my mum booked it and made it happen. Of course I loved the idea of going overseas again, but I was extremely nervous about visiting a foreign country now that I was in a wheelchair. I remember driving to the hotel after we arrived in Bali and feeling such anxiety and wishing I hadn’t come. When the holiday came to an end, I wished we had booked longer. Then after returning home, I couldn’t wait until our next overseas adventure.

We all need to step out of our comfort zone and trust in other people to help out and do the right thing. If I hadn’t have listened to my mum back then and refused to go, I may have never left the country in all the years since. I would have missed out on so many amazing experiences and wouldn’t be looking forward to our Canada/USA tip this July.

TGN: Is it easy for you to get up on a weekend and go out, or do you have weekends where you just want to chill out and watch TV? How do you motivate yourself?

JH: If the sun is out, so I am! I hate sitting inside on a beautiful day as that’s what the majority of us do all week for work. If my football team is playing and it’s a sunny day, instead of sitting indoors and watching television, I’ll take my iPad outside and watch it, so that I still get to enjoy the fresh air.

I often get asked how I stay motivated and positive but I don’t really have an answer to that. I’m blessed to have a positive outlook on life. Unfortunately some people aren’t lucky enough to be born with that trait. Australians are all so lucky. Many whinge. You only need to turn on the news or visit a less fortunate nation to realise how lucky we are.

TGN: Do you have an adventure travel bucket list? What do you plan to do next?

JH: That is a great question and not something I think about very often. I have dreamed of going to America ever since I was a kid, so this July, when we travel to the States and Canada, I definitely will be ticking a major bucket list item off. Mexico is also a place I’d love to spend some time one day.

TGN: Do you have a favourite moment from your adventure travel? One moment when you’ve stood in wonder and realized you’d never forget that precious experience.

JH: I will always remember Cinque Terre in Italy. It is a beautiful piece of coastline that I visited with my mum, dad & sister when I was 16 or 17. There are around five villages separated by mountains. You can walk between the villages on picturesque trails. Most people probably spread it out over a few days; my mum is a fitness fanatic drill sergeant though, so we knocked it off in a morning!

I loved my time there and remember cliff-jumping into the water with my dad. I look back and feel extremely grateful to have done all that when I did, as it would not be a possibility for me to enjoy now. You couldn’t pay the hardest working Sherpa in the world enough money to lug me up and down that trail.

TGN: What advice do you have for differently abled people who want to try adventure travel?

JH: My biggest piece of advice would be to ask people for help if you need it. If a family member offers to take you somewhere, don’t say no. Accept it and embrace it as the offer may not always be there. Or as you get older, your health may not allow it.

All the photographs and videos in this post (including the image in the header) belong to Jaimen, and have been used with his permission. Jaimen’s always uploading new photographs and spectacular videos, so make sure you follow him. We have already!

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