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Hidden Dutchman aka Hiran Daniel

  • On building an audience for your travel content  

Travel photographer and videographer Hiran Daniel aka “Hidden Dutchman” is a passionate creator who is relatively new to the Sri Lankan travel scene. Hiran shared with us his experiences and thoughts on online content creation and the many trials and tribulations one must endure in order to get a leg up in what now feels like a highly saturated market. 

Just dipping his toes into the industry, Hiran got into travelling in 2019 just after he returned from Saudi Arabia, where he was residing for six years. “I was away and working in Saudi Arabia during those years when people usually get into travelling, adventure, and exploration,” said Hiran, adding: “I saw nothing but sand for six years and the moment I came back after I quit my job there, it felt like the perfect time to start exploring.”

Thankfully for Hiran, the perfect opportunity presented itself as a friend from his new place of work shared with him that he could potentially join a travel group that does adventure travel and camping trips, and that there is a spot available if he would also like to join. 

This was the beginning of a passionate love affair with Sri Lanka’s vistas for Hiran as he set off on his first hike to Brandy Rock (Brandy Gala) in Matale. Hiran said that this first trek was an incredibly challenging experience for him. “I couldn’t make it to the top and had to take a break and rest in the middle of the trek,” he said. However, despite the difficulties he faced in this first trek, Hiran was not discouraged. 

“I could have decided that was the end of that and thought never to travel again but despite the difficulties, I enjoyed myself and I kept going for more hikes and things got a lot easier as I gained more experience,” said Hiran, adding: “As I continued to go on more trips, I decided to start documenting them. I already had a camera and I just started capturing landscape stills as I went along.”

However, Hiran’s real talents began to shine when he started his video blogging; by sharing travel clips on his YouTube channel, he has developed a unique eye for capturing the beauty of Sri Lanka. Hiran’s video vlogs are often episodic and feature insightful interviews with known individuals who are well-recognised in the Sri Lankan travel scene. 

“I wanted to know more about these people who enjoy travel as much as I do but as we all know, everybody is different in the way that they experience things and how they enjoy things, so I wanted to know what their reasons were for travelling and what makes it special for them – and in thinking that, I realised others too must be interested in knowing these kinds of details,” said Hiran. Hence, he started his journey of capturing the thoughts of fellow travellers who share their many different experiences as travellers.

Hiran also shared with us that it has been challenging to build an audience, especially owing to the fact that the subject is incredibly saturated and travel content creators are a dime a dozen. “You have to offer something that is very unique to stand out; the top creators already have their signature on their brand and they’ve done the groundwork,” he said. However, he added that he isn’t discouraged in the slightest as creating content is a passion of his and he enjoys it regardless, and if even one person was to view his content and enjoy it, then he considers that a success. 

He shared that as a self-taught creator he is always looking out for opportunities to improve himself and in the future, he hopes to create high-quality cinematic content that showcases the beauty of Sri Lanka to an international audience. 

Instagram: @hidden_dutchman

YouTube: Hidden Dutchman