Influencer mass delusion and finding your zen in social media with Trey Ratcliff


Trey Ratcliff is an artist on a somewhat quixotic mission to help spread consciousness and mindfulness to the world through photography and creativity. Running the #1 travel photography blog in the world,, has taken him to all seven continents over the past decade, and Google has tracked more than 140 billion views of his photos, all while building a social media presence with over 5 million followers.

Chris Anderson from TED called him a “pioneer” of the now ubiquitous genre of High Dynamic Range photography. Ratcliff had the first HDR photograph to hang in the Smithsonian Museum and, sales of his large-format limited edition prints to fine art collectors worldwide have grown into a multimillion-dollar business. In 2012, he moved his family and photography business to Queenstown, New Zealand, before it became a trendy doomsday contingency plan. He is based there with his wife, three children, and their dog, Blueberry.

Show highlights

2:18 Trey introduces himself and what he does.

3:45 Trey discusses the background of his new book came about and why he decided to write it.

7:53 Influencer hollowness, identity crises and personal growth.

13:23 How big is influencer fraud? Is Instagram complacent or complicit?

15:31 If Instagram is the economy and engagement is the currency what do we do when a lot of the currency is fake?

21:21 How do we get back to the early days of social media when it was a positive and optimistic place?

23:50 Psychedelics for mental health and emotional trauma.

28:50 Narcissism and higher consciousness. The conflicting effects of social media

31:23 Trey’s journey into photography and mindfulness.

32:34 Are there still opportunities for budding photographers in the era where everyone has a camera?

38:45 Trey’s favorite city, meal and quote.

39:22 The one book Trey recommends everyone should read.

Resources/people/articles mentioned in the podcast

Trey’s blog Stuck In Customs

Under the Influence – How to Fake Your Way into Getting Rich on Instagram: Influencer Fraud, Selfies, Anxiety, Ego, and Mass Delusional Behavior (Amazon)

Trey on Instagram

Trey on Twitter

Trey’s How To Build Real Influence online course

Sapiens book

Dunbar’s Number

Alan Watts

Terence McKenna

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Written by Stephen Davies

I’m an experienced strategist working at the intersection of public relations, digital marketing and social media based in London. You can work with me here or drop me a line here.

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