Future Unmapped
Life just isn't a straight line, and neither is art

What we look for when we travel, our roles and responsibilities, our photography style and preferences, and our philosophy on photography.

A Bit About Us

Once upon a time on a sunny and warm Nova Scotian winter afternoon, a Brit married a Canadian and her two cats.

The "Canadian" here is Sarah ... which makes me the "Brit".

Wednesday 16 August 2023 at 7:26pm local time: The Romanian Athenaeum in Bucharest.  Sarah (left) and Erik (right) at Vara Magica International Festival: Carmen - Pasiune si exuberanta! Romanian Sinfonietta Orchestra.
Wednesday 16 August 2023: Sarah (left) and me (right) at The Romanian Athenaeum in Bucharest

We met in Switzerland in 2008. I had been living and working in Zürich for several years, while Sarah was passing through.

Many sunrises, sunsets, and moons - and those two cats - have passed since then.

I became a proper Canadian when I took the Oath of Citizenship in 2014. I was now a dual national of Canada and the UK ... bringing my legal status in line with Sarah's, who automatically qualified thanks to having a British parent.

In 2016, Sarah was diagnosed with celiac disease. Whenever she consumes a bit of gluten, she can expect varying degrees of misery for about three weeks.

Shortly after that discovery came the chocolate allergy. On the plus side, it didn't take her long to adjust to life without gluten and chocolate.

Today, we find ourselves looking for places with:

  • gluten-free food that doesn't taste like cardboard;
  • drinks and desserts that don't contain chocolate;
  • a blend of modern living that acknowledges and respects its own history and architecture;
  • fountains that relax and inspire in equal measure;
  • walkable parks and gardens that understand the need to clean up after its pigeon community;
  • all the cats.

High-octane adventure, partying, clubbing, etc ... really not our lifestyle. We don't fake it up for social media.

We're pretty boring that way :-)

Sarah Slater

If she could do it all again, Sarah would have followed her heart by doing a fine arts or art history degree. Ultimately, she chose psychology for - what may have been perceived as - better career prospects.

While it's not the same thing, Future Unmapped gives Sarah the permission to create art as her day job ... where her art is based on photographs we take at home and on our travels.

Even though she loved being an office administrator for over a decade, seeing the results of her digital artwork - as a tangible, hold-in-your-hand end-product - allows her to feel a sense of completion.

As a digital artist, Sarah enhances our original photographs to give specific components the pop and attention they deserve.

Her favoured photography genres are macro and birds. The latter gets her curiously animated, as they seem to goad and bait her ... as if they know how to push her challenge accepted button.

Sarah is responsible for creating and managing our products (bags, physical prints, etc) based on her digital artwork.

She publishes and manages the content on our social media channels.

She is also our lead researcher and trip planner.

Erik D. Slater (me)

After more than two decades of technical consulting in the corporate and digital worlds, Future Unmapped provides me with the opportunity to finally work with a subject matter that people can understand, relate to, and empathize with.

Case in point ... the mention of any one of my career roles - digital platform consultant, project manager, business analyst, application engineer - has invariably doused conversations with a sour taste of instant regret, with eyes glazing into the middle distance.

It's hard to argue that photographer sounds waaaay cooler than all of that other stuff. Socially, it's significantly more engaging.

During our travels on land and at sea, I discovered a preference for street and environmental photography.

We also learned that a 10-minute walk may take up to an hour when exterior architectural shots - especially at night - stimulate my visual cortex.

While it's not the most exciting part of my working day, I manage Future Unmapped in terms of things like our concept and philosophies, project timelines, tasks and responsibilities, backups, file repositories, naming conventions, etc.

I manage our digital platform - all of that "eyes glazing into the middle distance" stuff - like the services we use to host our site, our online shop, our payment collection & processing infrastructure, and our email marketing & automation activities.

I also publish and copyedit all Future Unmapped site content.

Photography Style

All photographs we use as the basis of our products - and all photographs we publish on Future Unmapped (the site, social media, etc) - were originally taken by either one of us, using our own cameras.

As an anology to describe our style ... I look for the forest, and how it fits into the world around it. Sarah looks for the tree, then zooms in on the things that define it relative to its surroundings.

I prefer wide shots that capture vibes and moments in time. These include street scenes, the broader environment, architectural detail, etc ... and how they flow with each other.

Sarah likes to get up close to things like birds, flowers, insects, fences, etc ... and then use their finer qualities to make them the star of their own unique narrative.

We both love to take photos of fountains and cats.

Photography Philosophy

We never choose a destination based on its photo potential, and we try to avoid instagrammable cliché shots as much as we can.

We find that posed photos - taken with our digital art in mind - don't always work well for us.

We do better when we play things by ear. This allows us to capture our experiences, whatever they are and wherever they may be.

We want to give ourselves the opportunity to reminisce over the moment itself.

Each photo we take has a story it wants the world to hear, and serves as an investment in our emotional future.