With over 615,000 followers on Instagram, it’s clear at first glance that MaxMuench isn’t your typical photographer. Or an influencer. Or a traveler. Or whatever, really. Not only does it make following him so much fun, but it’s also why he’s been used to shoot and use their products exclusively from some of the world’s top brands.
But in recent years, what has attracted my attention is Münch’s passion for Mongolia. His passion for turning into a full-fledged travel brand called Follow the Tracks. With the vision of making Mongolia more accessible, Münch’s dreamy photography with a camera and a keen business sense make Follow the Tracks one of the easiest ways for everyone to explore Mongolia now. I am. Especially a photographer.
Sit with Münch in Ulaanbaatar before the latest mentorship program in May and learn more about his career, the future of Follow the Tracks, and how to join his next mentorship in Mongolia this fall. I did.
Brianna Wilson: Let’s start from the beginning. How did you get started as a photographer?
Max Münch: I’m actually a pianist. I used to tour Europe with an orchestra, but I always took pictures next to me. It was always music and photography. But then I focused on the music that I forgot about the photos. And there was a moment in my life when I needed more photos. So I quit all my work and got all on Instagram. We started marketing our brand in early 2014 when Instagram wasn’t important. I basically realized my vision and tried to convince the brand that I needed to be exposed to social media with high quality images. At that time I only had a phone. It was quite different from now. But still it worked. The client has arrived. Now I work with some of the biggest brands in the world. I am really grateful that I have traveled a lot through my work.
Wilson: When it comes to travel, I’m a big fan of what you do with Follow the Tracks. From self-driving tours you designed to photo mentorships hosted here in Mongolia. Please tell us about Follow the Tracks and how you came to Mongolia in the first place.
Münch: I love Mongolia. I spend a lot of time here, so I know a lot of places. I’m looking for a photo aspect of things – I’m looking for a new perspective. In addition, I love teaching people photography. For two weeks, I hosted a trip to my favorite places across the country and met friends and nomads I met along the way. I not only teach them how to edit, but more importantly, how to bring their photography aspirations to the business. Basically, how to turn their passion into a career. Many photographers have good cameras, love to take pictures and want to pursue a career, but don’t know how to get started. This helps them.
Wilson: What does a typical day during a mentorship look like?
Münch: Well, it’s Mongolia. Therefore, everything is very flexible. This is a really important skill to learn. You have your schedule, you plan everything, then something else happens and you need to work with it. This is really important to learn. I also learned while shooting a master class video that I could access during the self-driving tour. For example, I was filming a sunset, but suddenly a snowstorm came. I had a plan for the day, so I was able to handle it, but this is always the case. What do you do when you shoot for clients and they are expecting a sunset or beautiful light and it is raining? This is what I am working on in a creative way and there is no better place to do it than in Mongolia.
I also do a small job at the beginning of the day. So you learn something and come out of this workshop with skills you didn’t have before.
Wilson: In addition to mentorship, someone can book a Follow the Tracks tour as a self-guided tour. They get a Samsung tablet preloaded with routes, photo destinations with background information, camp and stay locations, and photo tips and master class videos you’ve recorded. Why was it important to develop self-driving routes as well?
Münch: When I came to Mongolia, it was really hard to navigate and find someone to help me drive around the country to a particular place. No network was accessible. So at some point I decided to do it myself. And now my vision is that I can come to Mongolia without knowing how to get there, pick me up at the airport and take me to the hotel. Someone can help the grocery store and get whatever you need. The adventure begins. There is also an hour to introduce all the gear. And since everything else is on the tablet, you leave.
So we give them our point of view, but I want people to experience their own Mongolia. So they go out and discover everywhere on their own. We only allow them to arrive at the place and be as comfortable and safe as possible, but still they are themselves. The tablet shows information about routes and all locations, as well as the entire master class. So if you want to learn everything about photography, editing, and how to create a business on the go, you can.
Wilson: Who do you think makes this type of tour the most attractive?
Münch: A crowd under the age of 40 who wants a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. Those who want to experience freedom like never before. And they want to go to places they have never been to.
I think it’s scary to go far away from home. I don’t know what to expect and I don’t know where to go. That’s why we want it to be as comfortable and friendly as possible. Therefore, there is no risk and there is no fear of having to overcome it. They come here and everything is settled for them.
Wilson: What are the common misunderstandings people have about Mongolia? Hope your tour helps them open their eyes and take a different perspective?
Münch: It is mainly related to food. Without electricity, the internet, and supermarkets, people think they can’t survive in the wild. This is their greatest fear. And what if they get lost? You know, where are they going? We are here to help them overcome this and see, Hey, this is all in your head.. It is one of the safest countries in the world. Everyone is very friendly and helpful.
Wilson: Do you see Follow the Tracks go to other countries or other distant, less-traveled destinations?
Münch: yes. future. I already have some places in mind. Our goal is to be on 5 continents in 5 years.
Wilson: How can people learn about Follow the Tracks, self-driving cars, and mentorship tours?
Münch: On the Follow the Tracks website, you can see a virtual experience of what you can expect. Instagram also provides daily inspiration, not just TikTok.