Renowned adventure photographer Alex Strohl joins us on this episode of The Photographer’s Journey. For more than a decade Alex’s photography has captured the attention of big brands and tens of thousands of aspiring photography entrepreneurs in his sought-after workshops.
In this episode he covers:
- His unconventional start in photography and as a creative entrepreneur
- How to get the right type of exposure, in the right places early on in your career
- Photography’s grey area with market rates and working as part of an agency of creatives
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Hello everyone, and welcome to the photographers journey podcast for the photography community. I’m your host, Lucas dredger. And I’m also the CEO and co founder of format. On this podcast I’ll be interviewing a diverse range of successful photographers from around the globe, about the journeys as artists and entrepreneurs will talk about their stories, their work, their inspiration, and how they have grown their businesses. Welcome to our third episode in the season called photographers COVID in the future, where I’m talking to photographers about how they got started and how COVID has impacted their photography, their work and their outlook for the future. I hope that their stories and the work will be a source of inspiration for you as you continue down your own journey through the pandemic and beyond. So just before we get into it small insurance Alex for more than a decade, Alex has pioneered the visual style in outdoor industry. His marketing campaigns Garner clients, audiences of millions, while his critically acclaimed photography workshops pass down, unrivaled experience and insight to 10s of 1000s of aspiring photographers. lauded by the likes of National Geographic outside magazine and gentleman’s journal, his influence on the direction of outdoor media is unparalleled. Thanks again, Alex, for joining me today. I’d love to get started and talk a little bit about your photography journey. Do you mind walking me down memory lane of how you’ve arrived where you are today as a photographer?
Yeah, it was a succession of I say happy accidents and some effort and a lot of luck. I’ll say I will say that. I think I’ve gotten really lucky in the past. And to this day, I still am. Sometimes, you know, I just wonder like, Did that really happen? There was a lot of effort put into it. But there was definitely, I think that my dad put it pretty well. When I was a kid, he said, you know, you don’t get lucky if you’re not trying to get lucky. So it’s more like you get to do a bunch of different things and some things will stick and that’s when you get lucky. And that’s what I did.
So So walk me through that. Like when when did you get your starting photography? How did you get started? And how did you arrive here? Like because obviously you’ve got a large Instagram presence. You shoot a lot of shots for kind of outdoor luxury brands. How did you arrive here? What was what was your first kind of footing in photography? How did you get started?
I mean, it’s it’s a very it’s a very traditional in a way that just like a million other people I picked up my dad’s film camera. Or my uncle’s film camera your grandpa’s film camera. You’ve heard that before. And actually just it was an Olympus om one and I was just started shooting some rolls with it. No real desire just just because as a kid, you see this thing I was pretty well, you see this thing and it’s, it’s it’s sexy. It’s it’s like metal, it’s got lens on it. You can screw things buttons everywhere. So obviously you prompts the question to the owner of the camera, tell me about this thing. That’s about it. And then I think it’s any kid wants to have a toy like that. So for me, it was just more like, Oh, cool. I’m walking around, and I’m seeing things so this viewfinder, and then I get to see him later. Cool. So that’s how it really started. And then my dad had a small cannon in a point and shoot camera with a flash on it and a 32 megabyte memory card. Yeah. Feeling old when I say that already. And I would just take photos of things with it. You know, back when we I was born in Spain, I was born in Spain. And my parents were French. So at some point, the high school I was going to go scholar Lisa horsey. It’s like a French school in Spain. no longer wanted me there. It was just immediately, it was just very annoying. So you can just not come back. They still let you my mother. And she was like, Oh, so they saw as a punishment. My parents move back to friends when I was 14, right? So when you’re 14, yeah, oh, no, you lose your identity, your friends. And we moved to this property that my dad bought when he was 18 with the backing of his grandfather. It’s like a massive acreage in the southeast of France in the forest. And I was sent to boarding school and I would only go back in the weekends up there to the property and there was no kids around right there was no no armies to be had. Because it was just a Woods four acres and acres and acres and just small towns with a lot of old people. So that’s where I got to play more with cameras, you know, go on rides on my dirt bike that I really insisted like that should require, like nothing to do here. Can you acquire a dirt bike for me? It took about a year convincing you know, that’s what I had to learn the power of persuasion. And my dad, my dad is a very persuasive individual and, you know, he can persuade but he can also be persuaded. Right? That’s the key with people who who know how to sell they also can get sold pretty easily. So he’s like that so I can sell him on that using his techniques. Because he was he was a sailor is pretty much a glorified glorified salesperson for irrigation companies. He is in the forestry industry he’s a forest engineer and he would sell irrigation he went on sale water pumps in Egypt went to different gigs but that got him just very good people skills and yeah he was able to use these techniques on him and get my dirt bike and and shoot photos with it and bring back photos of that and started posting them on Flickr back in the day 2007 six years six I think that’s why I was posting them on flicker. Yeah, and then it just sort of I mean, I’m kind of taking the long way around on this one but yeah, I started connecting with people on the internet on Flickr and it’s like wow, there’s people like saying these photos cool, awesome. I was looking at their photos and we’re just chatting and commenting. There was no real channels to do that there was no real place to talk about photography so it really is very innocent that was pretty geeky you know, in the weekends Like I said, I had a lot of time so I started assembling my own computers you know, like buying motherboards and Rams and hard drives and graphic cards and we would assemble those with a friend and they would sell them to people and just because we thought we’ve done this once it’s not that hard we can do this every weekend and make some money so it just be doing that for a while and I had a T shirt brand called gets bumped there’s a bunch of paintbrushes everywhere and I was very at ease you know I was really into the 80s 80s music funk music 16 and yeah just selling t shirts to people a couple 100 people in high school back oh yeah it’s get funky so people called me get funky for a year or two and yeah there’s always been interested in how things are presented either myself or not that was very self aware but it’s more like if I was going to have put something into the world had to be well presented and to this day to me it’s the most important thing is how the obviously the product goes first but then the packaging the way that the first time you see it feels to you is very very important. So yeah that’s that’s the beginnings in a nutshell
the lug nuts you know from so you’ve obviously sounds like you really kind of explored your creativity for the most part alone right? in a in a place where Yes, you really kind of went on online and tried to get feedback and shared your work you know from flicker to where you are now so you posting images on flicker? I’m assuming this is a progression to something like Instagram what when would you remember the first time you got paid for your photography and how did that happen? Yeah, it was actually
something between Flickr and Instagram score 500 pX you know I’m sure you know them really well another Canadian company out of Toronto and I started putting photos after Flickr you know, we were like Flickr is gonna feel old now you know, my mom uses Catholic so we just went to therapy x when I was probably 18 and started putting photos there there was a bigger community just felt different you know it just felt like a product that would fit the new world kind of thing you know from 2006 to 2008 nine it’s changed Facebook was already taking off in Europe in Oh 607 so I’m on foreign pa so I would put over a photo and religiously add hashtags of what was in the picture not like gaming you know nowadays your game hashtag with a bunch of bullshit. And I was just like, this is what’s in the photo so put hashtag there’s a pool there’s a pool, there’s a tree, there’s a tree. This is very religious about it. Because I know someday somebody is going to search these hashtags and it’s going to be useful. Yeah, I was just doing need for people right? This has to be useful because when I use hashtags, I want to find stuff. Oh is some lady from an agency called McCann who was owned by Wonder Man some really I was in college at the time. Did you know anything about ad agencies? And this lady wants to buy and I’ve told this story many times where this lady wants to buy one of my photos that she found on 500 pX has two keywords I was like have you worked and all these years of putting keywords people were like my friends like why are you bothering those your keywords boring, you know, like who wants to punch the keyboard? He was on a computer for hours. So this lady wanted to buy this photo for somebody yearly salary pretty much it was like she was working on behalf of Microsoft for the launch of their Microsoft Surface. This lady was very nice. He was just some account manager for Microsoft. I still to this date. I haven’t I gotta take it up for dinner. Yeah, that’s when we took off I saw this photo for gladly sum of money. And then the next year I Andrea I had met Andrea my wife now in college in Quebec, I went to Quebec to study we decided it was time to travel. So this continued college for a while and we went on the road for a year. On Microsoft’s we kind of got kick started by Microsoft indirectly although they pay for something it wasn’t a grant they bought something they would have bought. But that fueled our careers tremendously because nobody and I should say at the same time there was the beginnings of Instagram 2011 and that’s when they bought that image so I was able to travel the world and their diamond start putting photos on Instagram of Patagonia Mirage Go in Canada and northern Canada and the Yukon you know things that people on Instagram are putting photos of their toast back in the day wow that’s crazy this guy’s going everywhere and he’s gonna end is bringing travel photography to Instagram where it wasn’t right wasn’t for that yet yeah that was the beginning sounds
like a really unique story right um it sounds like you really got lucky with that Microsoft rap rap like
San Jose is like Casa fucking Lucky’s guy got all his money as well but I was a guy putting all the keywords Don’t forget that
it also sounds like whoever that person was. She really stood up for you right because she could have or you know that person could have easily just said you know, this is what the image is worth and here you go off you go. So sweet so
well maybe I should have asked somebody I don’t know my brother. I have an older brother who’s in branding so I’m going to I’m going to talk to him before
that sounds awesome. And so now today How do clients find you?
Today I’d say a lot of the a lot of the work surprisingly comes quite from YouTube. Sometimes people come from YouTube and they’re like we want you to make a YouTube video for us. And I was like cool Yeah, you know I’m a photographer to the degree Yeah, like they don’t do much research that guy yeah, you just make a YouTube video so that’s to me YouTube. Obviously the bulk i think is Instagram is a big Billboard and I’d say also doing magazine features really gets you exposure in the right place because you’re hitting our directors where you want to hit them in magazines and things they pay attention at and they read it what do you
do any kind of traditional photography marketing I know that people that want to get into in front of you know, editorial eyes, they use you know, various marketing tactics like sending out promos, etc. Do you do any of that or is it all organic?
Is no no no i i do send my the most old fashioned old fashioned traditional thing I do is send thank you notes at the end of the year you know, but that’s two people already know so it doesn’t really get to new work it just means you get to say thank you at least, but not under traditional I’ve sent some of my team to or in the past you know to a retailer which is the outdoor photography or outdoors conference for all the brands and they came back with about 3000 business cards and that was it so we had a good time at least
so you know so now you know it sounds like a lot of people are coming to you or people are coming to you for video work as well as photography work where when you will have to look at kind of the work that you’re doing now. Is it majority photography majority video? Is it a balance Are you choose? like where do you want to see yourself as a photographer?
Yeah, I’m always careful with labels right calling yourself photographer or filmmaker or another necessary if you’re gonna like the top 40 in radio you know, if you’re an artist, you have to play that game of having a certain beat or instrument in your song so that it resonates with more people and having the chorus be that way. So you have to play that a little bit with labels and I do see myself as more of a photographer than anything else if I had to pick something. But I’d say maybe 60% photography 40% film work. Okay. And so you know, yeah, usually I mean just just to tell you why the 6040 is because we try to lean heavily into video because it’s very it’s a good fun to produce and you get to collaborate with a bunch of people when you make video. So we always try to include him in proposals and pitches and packages and why don’t we make a video as well.
And so you know, when you talk about your path it sounds like to me that you know the way that you’ve arrived here as a photographer or videographer you know, whatever that label is your path is is specifically you know through that the social media platforms whether it’s you know, Instagram 500 pixels flicker many traders I would say many try to follow that path right like I think I see a lot of young photographer trying to follow that path. Do you have insight as to why so many fail and why you’ve succeeded
This is the disappointing part I tell students I’m like there’s also timing in the equation I would start today be tough right? And it was tough before but now I think what you’d have to do now if I was probably there you know, if I was probably 18 now I’d probably be heavily into Tick Tock I would be funny. You know, didn’t change the personality a hell lot more out practice on that. And being a personality brand because that’s what’s working on on social media now is like more personality based people follow you for who you are. Actually, my wife just did a little poll yesterday on Instagram. But why do you follow people and 20% only follow people for their photos and 80% fold them for who they were. That wasn’t like that. A couple years ago beginnings of Instagram, it was all about the photos. There was no story so thanks to Instagram Stories become about the people now. You know, back in there A couple days ago, a couple years ago, he was, you know, photographers wanting to stay in the shadows, you know, like, it’s all about the work, it’s not about me. So I’d say this is what’s what’s important now is to be a face, for sure. And practicing and being a face that’s entertaining and likeable and recognizable. That’s what I would do if I was starting out
now. And then you know, on the topic of so that’s, I think that’s really great advice to people. And another photographer I recently talked to, you share the same advice that even when you’re practicing in business, it’s not just on social media, it’s not just about showcasing your work, it’s about showcasing yourself who you are, as a person, as a business person, you know, whatever that whatever that message is from you, because that’s what people are connecting with, through social media, if they want to access your portfolio, they’ll go to your website, they’ll see your work somewhere else. But try to use Instagram to be more authentic. And I think that’s essentially kind of what you’re trying to what you’re saying here. The one thing I would love to touch on is how social media is impacting the photography industry as a whole. And the reason I’m asking you this question, because I would say that you are a large presence, large presence. And, you know, in photography, as far as a photographer, who’s been very successful through the use of social media, the there’s been a lot of photographers that I’ve talked to that, you know, quote unquote, have followed a traditional path of photography, where and you know, they have a traditional education, in some kind of arts, they apprentice for someone, or they get their foot in the door to a small job, someone recognizes them, with no help of social media, you know, they’re just kind of climbing that ladder eventually, and they’re getting there. And then there’s the path of someone like yourself who, through social media, people recognize your work, you know, you’re growing a large audience at the same time as you’re building your craft and your arts. And you get recognized through social media. And so what some of the professional photographers I’ve talked to recently have shared with me is that they’ll compete on jobs, professional jobs, where you know, someone from Instagram is coming along and estimating on a job and they’re there. They’re actually when they’re estimating our job, they’re actually devaluing themselves, because they don’t have the experience so they don’t have the advisor to talk to, you know, how much should I be charging for my work because they’re essentially learning on the job. Whereas someone from a from the other traditional route has learned that through an apprenticeship, you know, through that advisor or the business knowledge that they have, do you agree with that wider concern of professional photographers? Do you have that concern right now and you think of it that’s a valid concern for people?
I mean, this is a like a more like a there’s a couple of sides to this conversation. So that I think there’s obviously like any anything that’s right in this true and false one. When I was starting out, we went to this conference called tiebacks. If you know it in Toronto is a travel blogger conference of some sort. We went there on for the Government of Canada, they sent us there as the instagramers. So he went there with a few friends. We ended up co founding Stan wander together, actually with more easily and resharper. Well, we went there just to they sent us to take photos, they sent us on a trip to Nova Scotia on the train after we went there to show our faces and talk about Instagram. And that was 2013. Yeah. And we met very prominent travel bloggers, like elite travel bloggers, you know, with millions of views on their blogs a month, you know, and they were like, we’re so you know, which obviously you chat at the bar after we get to some party thing. And they’re like so using what I get whatever necessary, I’m you guys using it at all, but we’ll chat about that obviously. neurotoxin, like no, no way. No, no, because you say they say they own our photos. They control everything. We don’t want to touch it. And at the time, but and then they’re like you guys are being silly with this Instagram stuff, because they’re gonna own all your stuff. There’s no Ico that was right from them, right? There’s no SEO, he stops people 24 hours and what happens after so they missed out on some of that stuff. Now they’re all using Instagram the same the same guys who are. But at the same time, I wish I started a travel blog at the time, they said it’s because I would be in a much different place with SEO and things like that. So it’s always two sided. And what this what I’ve learned is that you get to really consider both sides, not just like, Yeah, what I think is the way I’ve done it is the best way to do it. There was a lot of writing what they said and also ask those awesome write stuff. So this kind of average generational sort of credit, same river, you know, have the same conversations about that. But to get back to your question, I’m trying to pre put my finger on on the problem. So you’re saying
so the way it’s been articulated to me is is the main I think the root issue is that when a photographer kind of goes through the path through social media and becomes an in gets the first job first couple jobs when they’re estimating on work. They don’t have the kind of business acumen or business knowledge or an advisor to go to to determine how much they should price so when they’re pricing the work, they’re also you know, the client is then comparing their price to other photographers price who know how to price their work, and so that devalues the work in general and then creates a new baseline where professional photographers can compete. So I think it just kind of goes back to you know, is that do you think that is that there’s some truth there and then do you have advice for potentially photographers don’t have the business knowledge or grants and they’re coming through social media on pricing their work.
That is the single reason why we started staying wonder the agency years ago is because we had that issue, you know, like, sometimes clients would go and hire us to source talent, right? We were just we were an agency that would source people to who are photographers, filmmakers, designers, but who had an audience on Instagram but first there were photographers or whatever or you know filmmakers and sometimes they’ll be like Hey guys, are you more expensive than if we just go direct to talent? Cool, yeah, just go direct to talent and then it’d be obviously the same kind of stories where people would show up that you’d have 18 year olds show up on a commercial set and be like what Yeah, they don’t know how to behave this obviously because they’re young and they haven’t nobody to mentor them the right way that you know how to use the lights and blah blah Yes, that’s why we started the agency and that to avoid you know, to sort of filter talent for clients like yeah, you pay an extra fee but this these guys we’ve worked with before that can vouch for them there’s other clients we’ve worked with them so yes, it’s always gonna happen where people are gonna come willy nilly and charge less money and in any industry The fact is, though is that you right photography, filmmaking is one of those industries that it’s not like plumbers where there’s like rules you can just break those rules or doctors right there’s a guilds of doctors who are the price is the same photography is good, none of that is like the jungle. So we wanted to start the agency for that to sort of set up a market rate for North America right with our friends at Tinker Street to in the US that have the same ambitions and it’s more like establishing a rate to protect everybody and it’s so big that you can’t control it nowadays. I think so yeah, I think it’s it is a problem it hasn’t affected me luckily. But I could see how if you’re being you know, if you’ve got to work your way up the ladder you know, 30 years ago and he shot film for this newspaper and then you were lucky if they paid for your film and then work your way all the way up to working for Sony or whatever. And then these two kids show up Yeah. And they’re just fresh out of school and they just take your job and you know for less money right? But I say that it’s not only is that not just their fault it’s also you might be in in the wrong place, you know what I mean? Like if the if the if the claim is going for these kids is because they need these kids too, right? So I’d probably revise my offering and go for a more high end or make sure I can address that from the beginning hey my course gonna be a little higher than everybody else’s well then other quotes that’s fine Let me tell you why that is. You can really go the way I don’t really care. Just pick the ones you like. If it doesn’t work out, just call me after thanks very much and you know that’s why I always try to be very generous with you know, sometimes clients have a budget you know, come up with a budget and it’s just not gonna work so I’m happy to direct them to other creators well, Alia let me connect with my friend who can do it for less money just because he’s starting out as fine right this should be just for everybody I
like that answer and thanks for sharing your thoughts on this I know it’s it’s it’s one of those like, you know, what’s your opinion topic so I’m happy that you can share it with us
you know, a year later you might have a different one, you know, a year a year from now, you’d have a different opinion maybe or tomorrow somebody
takes that job, you know, exactly.
But no, I appreciate you sharing that. So at format you know, we’ve recognized that kind of successful photographers successful photography journey is both the artistic journey you know, shaping your craft becoming a really good photographer, as well as the business turning right becoming the the hustler, right the business person communication dealing with clients. What is your kind of business background? You mentioned your father’s in was in sales? Did you have an attrition training there? Is this something that you learn on the job? And any advice that you have for others on how to get better at kind of the business side of photography?
Yeah, they say it’s a huge part, right? There are far better photographer than me, you know, everywhere in the world for many, many, many. The thing is, though, they won’t get those jobs because they’re not out there. Right? Then that’s the challenge is that taking good photos is is enough, right? If just if you take good photos and want to be great, then don’t be old time if you’re just going for commercial, right? It’s if you’re going for editorial or fine art is very different, but I’m saying for commercial stuff. You don’t have to be an outstanding photographer you just have to be a good business person and be really well connected right? So sad to say but I still believe it’s more like who you know. It’s always been the case it’s like, if you’re an Instagram is good for that because it keeps you top of mind in people’s lives right in in the clients who hire you because they see your photo on their feed when they wake up. I know cold, you know, so and so posted this photo nice. You know, they got to the office and their bosses like what do somebody should this like and they just sit down for a minute like huh you know boom you’re top of mind already right there so that’s why Instagram is powerful is because of this daily interaction right especially if you can be valuable to these people on Instagram next you know be useful with your photos and provide them a good experience because you have to be good at sales marketing, accounting and administration managing people if you want to grow studio so I’m I’m just I think it’s about recognizing your weaknesses and that’s obviously very common North American advice you know, do one thing and hire people to do the rest there’s some truth in that I think so I recognize my weaknesses which I’m a terrible accountant a terrible paperwork handler and luckily you can surround yourself with people who can do that it’s gonna be expensive but if it keeps you shooting photos and you can do better making sales and totally worth it, right
well, I think you know, the I think the root of your advice is you know, just be the connections building relationships right it’s with any successful businessman if you’re building relationships and and people like you and like you as a person and you know, you can you stay connected then that’s that’s usually how you kind of break through right? And that applies to all I think all photographers that have to deal with clients right? It’s all relationship building. And that’s part of business
I have a friend Lucas I have a friend just because this is really bang on what you’re saying. Who has no website who doesn’t use Instagram much at all? doesn’t have a website and shoots I mean he shoots for the biggest luxury brands in the world catalogs multimillion dollar campaigns runs massive budgets produces all himself shoots it and you’ve ever heard of them and that’s that there’s a magic of it. It’s in any of kids who come in like yeah, I need more followers on Instagram to get more jobs like yes or you can just be old fashioned you know you’d be like like my homie here who goes to New York every week to have meetings right? And it was there where he needs to be with the right people and you know, cultivates relationships with these people and that’s a that’s not there’s nothing online it’s all offline and it’s literally smashes it Yeah, so yeah, it’s connection professional
right getting to know people connecting being the right place at the right time and you got it Yeah.
And doing outstanding work at the same time Yeah, and obviously that too but it’s really this connections that are so powerful and you know, you know never eat lunch alone right you know that book I think it’s a book right?
Let’s talk about your work a little bit. How would you describe your style? I look at your work and a lot of it is outdoors there’s some luxury in my in my article any correctly How would you describe it yourself?
Yeah. I give you two answers on this this duality first be like you know I don’t try to describe my work right? Like people do that and that’s like the high level one final approach but I’d say that sometimes I talked about it with other friends and I’m like you know it’s kind of the interaction of adventure adventure meets luxury kind of thing because it’s not because you’re doing high end stuff or you’re a billionaire that you can’t have adventure right? You can still go camping and whatever not that I’m a millionaire so I’m sure there’s people who have private jets and they go camping right? I mean, I have a friend in Utah who goes heli camping. Right? Take this other camper and goes camping so just when I see stuff like that I’m like there is a line where adventure can meet luxury and it can be very interesting and very remarkable and beautiful and inspiring so that’s what I’ve tried to focus on is yes we can shoot for you Swiss watch brand company you know here’s what we can do and it’s going to be adventure for sure it’s not going to be your typical you know luxury trip on a yacht and we’ll just have you know mosquitoes on the deck or whatever like we might take this yacht but we’ll take it to Greenland and submit a mountain and skis you know, so it’s Let’s mix both worlds because there can be duality and people are complex and then just they’re just not just one type you know so brands often see people as one type like yeah these guys have bought they like to go golfing to have a boat and that’s it but we’re gonna infuse so much more so that Yes, that’s it that’s where I try to have the intersection as be comfortable going to the MN Giri you’ll be comfortable in attend on a mountain when it’s, you know, icing snow, ice rain on the
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Oh, yeah, that’s bivouac because the back but scooter is pretty close to your homeland. Yeah. So the idea was to go there. So oftentimes, I’m doing research about places and I stumbled on something on the sides you know, maybe looking up architecture in Iceland and I’m and stumble on this little hut in Slovenia. I’m like, oh, cool, save it. And then one day when the Jena Slovenian tourism office comes knocking at our door, because we do a lot of tourism work. Like Alex, we’d like you to come make a film in Slovenia, then I can pull up my full Lumia Yeah, yeah, you know this, these huts are very unique to Sylvania. Now I’d like to put them on the map. And at this heart, what, nobody’s ever talked to us. I mean, we know they exist. But you know, they were very interesting. What do you mean? It’s like a design hut? on top of a mountain? I think people are gonna love that on the internet. So then, how do we just throw them on how to hide trips on this trip, we hit three of the very modern Hudson, not easily or friends or the prominent Switzerland. None of these guys have these kind of huts. They have more traditional Stone Architecture, so Slovenians because they had, I’d say, a rocky past, they have a limited budget to have, they never had nice stone huts on their mountains, because they have no money for that they’re just too busy surviving, like the Swiss word, this beautiful things all everywhere. So nowadays, they’re trying to catch up to that and have outpatient huts and shelters, and they started putting their design huts on the mountain, they dropped them on a helicopter and they get somebody to design them and design competition. So I was really intrigued by it. And we hiked up there just for sunset. And to spend the night obviously, with our our friend and mountain guide Marco P. Tech is hilarious. But a because when we told him we wanted to do that, he’s like, what you want to go sleep. They’re like, yeah, it’s gonna be cool. I was like, but what mountains we climbed. Because it’s just a cliff shelter for climbing mountains. Like we’re just gonna go and take photos. They’re like, Huh, okay. Mobile users, you just sleep there and you leave in the next month, and I will stay for sunset and then climb the mountain later, whatever. And then being this massive thunderstorm, it will close all of our plans. And we just hunkered in there for the night. Just listening to the whole structure shaking. Because of the thunder. It was really awesome. That was our night at the shelter. It was very memorable.
Yeah, I love this part about your photography, because clearly you’re experiencing the world, you know, in a very unique way. Not a lot of people get to do that. So I love that about your photography. Oh, yeah. Which I’m sure which I’m sure you hear that all the time, right? In the dream, you’re living the dream traveling the world.
But for every photo like that, like the heart, there’s a lot of emails and PDF presentations, right like that. You can’t really show I mean, you could show but it’s not very interesting to most people to you know, so you only see the glitzy part. I’m working on every part. But yeah,
I can imagine now there’s a long, long business side of this, I get a big company. And then there’s the ugliness that’s on your desk or on your computer. You have the papers and then let’s let’s talk about the there’s an ISO nine shot, which I think you’re in a Jeep of some sort. Yeah, 2011 It’s a beautiful shot because you’ve essentially got a mountain behind you. You got different light, you know your lights are kind of projecting on the street. Walk me through that shot.
Yeah, that was for an assignment for Roget Swiss watch maker. Hi Nino’s as DLC that’s their acronym JJ, Jager and American Scott Jager. So we we they came to us for the release of the new watch called the Polaris sa four and they had it was a throwback to a dive watch vintage dive watch if you’re into watches you know all about this so we push them this idea where you go diving in Iceland in the silfra crack which is the big crack between it touches the on one side you have the North American plate and on the other side you have the Eurasian plate and then you swim between the two of them and the water is always at zero Celsius with three to four night clothes. So we thought it was good idea. We sold it to them. They liked it. And we rented this cool man Landrover defender because that’s what you do when you go to Iceland. He said we thought we’d look cool. You know the video is not very comfortable to travel in. But they’re very rudimentary. I’m sure you know them. But anyways, we were driving from Iceland to the north of Iceland to go to our overnight large like the dabbler forum which is this high end large which matches what the client wanted high end trip so and on the way there the obvious mountain pass something broke in the car and it just stopped working I mean he was only working in limp mode so you can do like five miles per hour that’s it and it was already you know 1111 he was already 11pm and we’re trying to get to this lodge which is still three hours away so we’re like damn it for six bro we had a shoot sunrise tomorrow What are we going to do and on the way up I noticed this cool mountain you know you see it’s kind of to the to the side windows that classic Cold Mountain back there lit by the moon but now we’re in a rush we continue and then the car just breaks half a mile after I’m like this has been to happen as I flip the car around and we just drove the car limb the car down back to this exact spot and I walked out of the car I was like okay a little more a little more perfectly aligned with a mountain behind and Hi my friend this assistant Joel walk out to the car just to give some presence there and busted out a tripod I had snow all the way into my boots was really deep and shot that photo was pretty that simple.
Awesome. Thankfully It wasn’t an ad for the car right because you’re saying the car didn’t perform
well well it’s a rental you know rental defenders in Iceland suffered a lot of abuse so it’s not a defenders are sturdy. I own one actually and they just never broken on me it’s just the rental ones. Yeah, I’d say that and what do you make this photo interesting I think is we’re all shooting at the mountain before from the road or taking photos at the mountain I’m like Oh cool. got three photos of the mountain and I think that’s the place to be fast with your camera. Like I said the photos while everybody was still shooting theirs and I just walked around to look at the scene is like oh look at the car headlights and interesting. Then I started tinkering and got a tripod out. But it’s before it’d been like a more slow shooter I would have never seen that because I just shot that photo and then we have continual lint on our way back to the lodge.
Yeah, and so like you know, a lot of your shots obviously have beautiful composition beautiful lighting. Are you what do you what do you need to be good at to capture this kind of photography? Are you like, do you have to assess the environment really quickly because environment changes pretty quickly, right? So like, you have to assess everything make sure that you’re capturing the lighting correctly. Like are you making decisions very quickly or are you standing out there for you know, minutes, maybe hours at a time shot?
Guys are intuitive. I try to surprise myself even when I take photos right? So it’s intuitive even on the wall as I’m walking up somewhere I’m looking processing but it’s not like a background task. I’m not actively saying this here this here this there’s more like when I get to where I’m trying to go over I stop I’m like yeah, this feels good. There’s balance there. I think it’s what photography is is like balance you know, there’s balance between light and shapes, save geometry, and it just feels natural and I take a photo I I wish I could be more patient and spend hours looking at something I’d probably make very different photos.
Yeah, no, I think they look great. I’ve always wondered you know how much time goes into specifically your type of photography so you know we’re shooting we’re shooting this episode during COVID I don’t I don’t think I have to tell you COVID has impacted pretty much everyone in this world. I you know I don’t think we have to get into how it impacted your personal personal life but I’d love to touch on how it impacted your professional life as a photographer. Has anything changed for you during COVID as a photographer
obviously yeah there is less travel there was less travel I mean now it’s my summer schedule has a bunch of travel on it already. Thanks to lucky thanks for fast rollout of vaccination to us I mean we’re fully vaccinated and a bunch of the countries that have to go have vaccination cards so hopefully this year is going to be smooth sailing for a worksite last year obviously it was more like a you know all planes grounded castration, so there are still things to shoot and we just ended up shooting them all locally. Like in Montana we rode our bikes circuit we will roll gret who rode gravel base across Montana and that was a really cool project it was more like you know the story name and you’ve heard of this before it’s like the shoreline was about local stuff local adventures everybody picked that up and now Now it’s time to explore but I would say is what’s changes the you know who your clients are you know like the the the people you’ve worked with for years are still here and lawyers I’d say that you know you just take care of each other and that’s what’s been very grateful for that for like having forged this six seven year collaborations with people who are still to this date of working and I mean to name a few is cannon radius who’s who’s who’s always here, you know? Yeah, that’s great. Yeah,
during that time, you really you really, you were able to determine you know, who’s loyal and who’s with you versus those who
understand people you know, they had to use their money somewhere else but I have no hard feelings towards people who I do. Luckily I hadn’t didn’t have anything sort of cancel. You know, there was one thing we had to do in Switzerland that got canceled that there was a there was pretty big one but Yeah, we didn’t go there as it was nobody’s fault. Really? Like, yeah, we can go we’ll do next year. Okay, fine.