How I went to Iceland and got someone else to pay for it

Iceland landscape by Boston photographer Erica Derrickson

If you’ve ever seen a photo of Iceland you’ll know it’s one of the most incredible places in the world. And if you haven’t then you probably didn’t realize that those amazing landscapes pictured were in fact in Iceland. That was how it was for me at least. It wasn’t until I was putting together our pitch to Mode Media to do a travel video there that I realized...this is the place I’ve been dreaming of all my life.

I was thrilled when they gave us the green light! We were officially sponsored by the largest privately held digital lifestyle media company to go spend a week in Iceland and make a video about our experiences there. My partner in this endeavor is Rajah Samaroo, a dear friend and superbly talented film director who came and visited me during my travels in India, which was where we did this first video on Kudle Beach. Although Mode ultimately did pick up that video after the fact, they did not sponsor us to do it in the first place. We did it for no other reason than we wanted to create content.

Iceland Landscape by Boston Photographer Erica Derrickson

It was thanks to Rajah’s previous interactions with Mode and his proactive thought process that made this new opportunity in Iceland available to us. Oh wait, there was one more thing, and this is kind of key: the reason Mode accepted me to be the host of these videos was that I had already spent two years building my audience. I had a foundation of other people’s attention, through my social media channels but most importantly through Youtube. Since February 2014 I’ve been doing video blogs hosted on Youtube, and even though it started small with barely anyone watching, because I did it consistently, over time, sometimes slowing down but never giving up, because I had eyes on me, they said yes to me.

Boston headshot photographer Erica Derrickson

So let’s fast forward. We just got back from 8 amazing days in Iceland that was paid for by someone else. It was a true adventure road tripping across the country checking out waterfalls, unbelievable landscapes inhabited by elves, incredible geothermal hot baths, epic snowcapped mountain ranges, and my personal favorite part: the friendliest horses you’ll ever meet in your entire life. And all of it was possible because two years ago I decided that I wanted to figure out who in the world cares about me, who wants to watch me do the things I do, and ultimately to support me to do more of them.

There has been a lot of emotional inertia I had to overcome around making my videos and putting myself out there, especially in the earliest days of my channel. This TED talk by Brene Brown on “The Power of Vulnerability” really inspired me to get over the blocks holding me back. I highly recommend you invest your attention there.

What I want people to take away from this story is that there’s no benefit in waiting for someone else, a company, a brand, a director, etc, to hand you an opportunity. If you really want to be on screen, to have attention, influence, and opportunity, then the best thing you can do is to start yourself, wherever you are, with whatever you have (or don’t). The most important thing is that you consider “What am I passionate about?” and then start putting out content online around that.


I’ve never used a fancy camera to record my stuff, just the phone in my hand. I started my Youtube channel from nothing, out of a moment of instinct and insecurity, and overtime I built up an audience who cares about me, and ultimately that’s what made all the difference.

Check out my vlogs on Youtube here.

Find me on Twitter here, Instagram here and Snapchat @ericaderrickson


Erica Derrickson is an award winning headshot photographer considered one of "Boston's best headshot photographers" according to the Boston A-List. Her professional headshot photography portfolio, along with articles on top headshot tips, can be viewed on her website, Beyond being one of the top headshot photographers in Boston, Erica Derrickson is a professional actress,, whose recent film credits include "The Heat," with Sandra Bullock, and many others. As the founder of Hollywood East Actors Group (, Erica strives to support other actors to pursue their dreams of acting in New England and beyond. For more info and to see her work just Google her!