Monday, May 31, 2010
Greg Stahl waxin' - Baja
Photographer Note: Where are the surfing photos? At this point in my photography career I haven't seen the value of investing $10,000 to take proper surfing photographs. Anybody with a long lens and a water housing can get interesting surf photographs. I'd rather tell the story of the search and the lifestyle. The waves are simply the reward for the long road traveled.
Saturday, May 29, 2010
Curtis Major and Kasey Hofer suspending a line for a bear bag hang after replenishing the food supply at Muir Ranch - John Muir Trail, California
The final product and 12 days of food safe from bears.
Photographer Note: We haven't lost our food to a bear and I want to keep that record going. It's tough to get everything in the bear canister when you are doing limited food drops in the backcountry. The only safe alternative is to suspend it from a tree.
Curtis Major relaxing in the Eastern Sierra - California
Photographer Note: When you photograph the lifestyle of a traveler you look for pivotal moments that tell it like it is. We have our share of hard times, but most of it is exactly how you see it. If you are crafty and have an absolute drive to experience life, then this is how you will live. Welcome to life off the leash.
Friday, May 28, 2010
From left, Greg Stahl, Abe Hammond and Curtis Major heading back to camp after a surf session - Secret Location, Baja
Photographer Note: Why is this a secret location? When the local fishermen and ranchers see us they often ask, "How did you get here?" People who know Baja know where some of these spots are, but getting to them is an entirely different ordeal. Some of these places take a 4x4 truck, a motorcycle ride and a boat to get to.
Thursday, May 27, 2010
Greg Stahl making the pass after 200 miles on foot - Pacific Crest Trail, California
Photographer Note: It's more fun to be in places when you work hard to get there. The beauty of documenting expeditions is the fact that you are working hard and being creative at the same time. I appreciate the times when my lungs are maxed, my knees are shaking, and I'm still running around looking for pictures. I feel like I put in a hard day at the office.
When I'm on the road I'm usually roughing it. I remember I called my mom and said, "I think I may try and live in Colorado for a little bit." I spent two weeks living next to this stream on Independence Pass and worked odd jobs in Aspen. This is how I showered before pulling into the driveway of a 10 million dollar house to landscape alongside migrant farm workers. Several days after this, I found out I would be on the cover of a national magazine.
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
River guides in the spring, ski resort workers in the winter, and three months of travel in the summer. I'd like to introduce Jessica Swan and Brian Shropshire.
Photographer Note: What are you willing to do to live the life? For this couple it's about seasonal jobs in the great outdoors and lots of time skiing, rock climbing, and vagabonding. It's a skill to consistently find seasonal work and travel year round. I stumbled onto their camp in Joshua Tree and we instantly became friends.
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Yoga master Sonia Reece - Torrey Pines, California
Photographer Note: The mind and body are important things to keep in tune with in travel mode. Yoga is another visual representation of this lifestyle. Conscious people are out there, you just have to be willing to find them.
Monday, May 24, 2010
Alex Goldman going from a sit-start during a slackline session - Black Mountain, California
Goldman going tree to tree
Photographer Note: I've photographed a bunch of slackline sessions and I always end up giving it a go. If you watch someone do it with ease, you will probably say the same thing that I say every time. "It's waaaaaaaay harder than it looks."
Sunday, May 23, 2010
Paul Lang drove his van up on the beach, pulled his kiteboarding rig out and hit the waves - San Quintin, Baja
Photographer Note: The laws are a little different in Mexico. Some go in your favor and some are downright scary. Being able to drive your car on the beach is a freedom that is crucial to the experience. Often times its just you and your friends at a particular beach. People ask me all the time, "Isn't Mexico dangerous?" I respond with, "I'm never on a paved road long enough to find out."
Saturday, May 22, 2010
Greg Stahl surfed out for the day and beginning the night with an ice-cold beer - Baja, California
Photographer Note: The Baja lifestyle is very special because it epitomizes what we do. What exactly do we do? We load up our trucks with surfboards, food, beer, water, firewood, and camera gear and hit the road. When you are out in the ocean and look ashore, you can see your campfire, your tent, your truck, and that's your entire life. When you paddle in, unstrap your leash, and walk up to camp, you're home. The lifestyle is that simple. As the directions on a shampoo bottle say, "wash, rinse and repeat if necessary."
Friday, May 21, 2010
Kasey Hofer (right) and Curtis Major drying out gear around the campfire - Eastern Sierra, California
Photographer Note: Humans and weather coexisting in the backcountry. It's about the smell of the forest after a rain. It's about feeling the cold wind upon your face and warm feet around a campfire. I feel alive when I'm worried about the weather. All you can do is prepare for the worst and endure what comes your way.
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
From left, Greg Stahl and Curtis Major digging into their bear canister for a ration of food - High Sierra, California
Photographer Note: Anybody who has to deal with a bear canister will laugh at this photo. It's funny because we never have a problem with bears in the backcountry. The only time we have a problem with wildlife is in the campground. Before we left on this trip a Yosemite bear sniffed Major's head because he had a peanut in his pack.
After days of shooting hard in seven different locations, I was tired, dirty and in need of relaxation. I drove 150 miles roundtrip to soak in one of my favorite hot springs. It's worth the time and energy to make things happen, especially when this is the payoff.
From the mountains to the valley - Bishop, California
Photographer Note: I've been talking about California's versatility for a decade. When I travel around the world, I often say, "there's a place that looks this in California." I'm a firm believer in utilizing by backyard simply because I can get dramatic images locally while reducing client costs. Don't get me wrong, I'm still available for assignments anywhere in the world, 365 days per year, 24 hours a day.
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Josh Hemlock relaxing in the hot springs next to his dog Cowboy - Eastern Sierra, California
Photographer Note: Hemlock and I had a lot to talk about. We both had similar lifestyles and were taking full advantage of them. When he packed up his belongings we both made a comment about how at that moment we were absolutely free from everything. For me it's about documenting the people who live and think like I do.
Monday, May 17, 2010
Brett and "Possum" hitchhiking along Highway 18
Photographer Note: I'm beginning to look at leather tramps, rubber tramps and freight train hoppers as a symbol of America. After spending years talking to this demographic of people I can tell you that it's an absolute choice. It is entirely possible to travel the country without money. These are the people who have risked it all for the sake of adventure.
Sunday, May 16, 2010
Leonard Knight has lived his own life and followed his passion with the creation of Salvation Mountain.
Knight's artistic obsession
I cannot express the amount of energy, passion and love Knight has for all people.
Leonard and I talked about a lot of things from the tailgate of a nearby truck. He has slept in the bed of an old 1930's truck for 18 years.
Photographer Note: Most people show up and photograph Leonard Knight because they saw the movie Into the Wild. I saw him as a man who followed his dream. He spoke to me with a passion and wisdom that I will never forget. To me he is a man who believes in what he has created. He is a man who has followed his calling.
A note encouraging people to go look for a rattlesnake - Joshua Tree National Park
Photographer Note: For the person who wrote this note, you get a sarcastic thank you. You probably encouraged more people to go look for the snake than anything. I can just see it now... I got bit by a rattlesnake because I saw this note, found the snake and started playing with it. Once again, thank you for your concern.
Saturday, May 15, 2010
Very rarely do I know what I will be photographing when I go into the field. I'm looking for people who follow their passion and create a lifestyle around that passion. The skill for my style of photography depends on how I ask questions, where I go, and my ability to approach anyone with my camera. I show my lifestyle so that people can see how I live and what I do to get my pictures. Here I am writing down location notes near Bishop, California.
Don Shoemacker taking a rest day at the hot springs. He has been traveling on foot throughout the United States for 17 years - Bridgeport, California
Photographer Note: Don was a well educated man who spoke with tact and generosity. He has two children, been married twice and used to be a nurse before trading in the scrubs for a life of freedom. "I wanted to see what it was like to have nothing," he told me. We both learned a lot from each other as we talked about our lives throughout the day. When I said goodbye, he told me, "I really like talking to people like you and I really needed it." Moments later, Shoemacker glanced back at me and slowly vanished into the forest to live the life he chose. It was one of those experiences that I will never forget.
Shoemacker sharing stories after I asked him, " Tell me a story."
Friday, May 14, 2010
When you're waking up at 4 am to get pictures, scouting all day long and shooting again in the evening, the days are productive but exhausting. If my entire day is based around photography I usually depend on coffee beans to keep me in the race. At this point I have a romance with first light, a morning cup of coffee, and a fantastic location.
From left, Cecile, Ursi, Clandio, Lea and Tom Barfuss of Switzerland eating breakfast before the climb - Joshua Tree, California
Photographer Note: I drove into Hidden Valley campground and stumbled onto this fantastic scene of a climbing family enjoying their morning. Tom told me they were spending three weeks climbing throughout the United States. We cracked a couple jokes, got to to know each other a little bit and here's the picture.
Thursday, May 13, 2010
Here I am hanging out in Slab City, a vagabond headquarters in the southern California desert. It's considered by many to be the last free place for travelers to occupy in the United States. The town was featured in the movie Into the Wild and has been a sanctuary for trampers who live the travel lifestyle with minimal funds. Here I am at the music stage better known as The Range.
From left, Brett and "Possum" trying to hitch a ride out of Niland, California.
Photographer Note: This was one of the first photographs I took while traveling last week. I couldn't believe that I was able to get the U.S. Border Patrol vehicle in the moment. Brett is from Pennsylvania and has been tramping for several months. "Possum" dropped out of college to travel and is known for creative signs and hopping freight trains. "It's time to get the hell out of California," Possum says.
Friday, May 7, 2010
Whenever I'm in Death Valley I cover a lot of ground. I use my car, my bike and my legs to check locations. Sometimes it's the good ole' hike-a-bike because i've started to see something and chase after it. It's funny because the natural progression seems to be; I want to see what's over those mountains. I want to see what's across those sand dunes. I want to see what's on the other side of this desert. At this point it's about maximizing the time.
The Mission Trails lifestyle - San Diego
Photographer Note: It's funny because whenever I cross paths with an image like this I'm always smiling. It's one of those moments that makes you want to get out and enjoy the day and that's exactly what I was doing when I took the picture.
Thursday, May 6, 2010
Master carpenter Gustaf Rooth in the process of renovating his new workspace/house/studio - San Diego
Photographer Note: According to Rooth, his professional goal is to become one of the most recognized and respected artisans to arise from both Sweden and San Diego, California. He'd like to be known as an environmentally conscious furniture maker/designer through the recent works of making furnishings and home decor using spent wine barrels.
Photo: Jason Halley
Here I am photographing a person who drove their car off a cliff in an apparent suicide attempt. When I made the decision to leave the newspaper business I had my reasons. Looking back, I think one of the biggest reasons I moved on from mainstream media was due to the fact that much of the documentation concerned things I didn't want to be photographing. On the contrary, news documentation taught me everything I know about how to tell a story in pictures.
Climbers stretching out and starting the morning - Black Mountain, California
Photographer Note: I was photographing another group of climbers when I took this picture. I woke up early and captured this image of our neighbors starting their morning. It's one of those classic moments that every climber can relate to.
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
I was watching a video another photographer made about risking the camera and it made me think of this shot. Here I am mounting my camera below the railroad tracks hoping that it doesn't get crushed. You gotta risk it sometimes and hope for the best but I have to admit I don't look very sure about this one.
Roxy Jones from left, Darrin Lee, Peter Graves and Phil Dupasquier
Photographer Note: Peter Graves came over to my house to look at the entire set of pictures and this was the one we liked the best. Some of these shots were so funny they buckled the knees (below).
Monday, May 3, 2010
A woman running stairs at the San Diego Convention Center
Photographer Note: It was one of those days where I wasn't really seeing anything that struck my eye. The only thing that was visually pleasing was this flight of stairs. A woman ran into my frame and here's the picture.
Sunday, May 2, 2010
When I'm scouting a location I try to cover as much ground as possible with a minimum amount of gear. If I can see everything at once it let's me know exactly what I have and don't have. Don't forget the tortillas! Mount Rainier - Washington
Greg Stahl checking the surf - Baja
Photographer Note: Nobody in sight and one of the best places to wake up and enjoy the solitude. I have to admit that being able to roll out of your tent, grab your surfboard and hit the water is my type of lifestyle.
Doug Nurock celebrating the photography gathering in Grand Teton National Park - Wyoming
Photographer Note: I was shooting with some of my favorite photographers when I took this picture. It's always great to see the energy of other photographers. This is how I feel when I take a picture that meets all of my expectations.