Digging a Little Deeper, Pushing a Little Harder, Traveling a Bit Further
Creating my work is never without extreme conditions that physically and mentally put me to the test. In Namibia, I carried 75+ pounds of photo and film equipment across the desert in 110 degree heat. In Iceland, I worked in freezing cold temperatures with wind that took your breath away, and could easily knock you over if you weren’t focused on standing upright. In the tumultuous seas off the coast of Sardinia, I chased the 140+ foot J-Class yachts from a tiny, inflatable dinghy.
Fueled by the excitement of the discovery of a new angle, an untold story, or an iconic image, the search for my subjects is endless, exhausting, and exhilarating all at once. As those closest to me would tell you, when I have my mind set on an image, it becomes all consuming (sometimes to a fault) and I do everything physically possible to make the story come to life.
THE PHYSICAL JOURNEY
Trekking through the Himalayas in 2009, through snow and up 15,000 foot passes where the air was thinner than I had ever experienced in my life, was my very first independent photographic challenge. Physically, nothing had felt like this before – at some points in my journey it felt as if it took everything I had in my body to take one more step. Although the days seemed longer than possible, when I did capture an image I loved it felt gratifying in an extraordinary way.
I believe that the hard work I do is reciprocated in the print or film and that, like most things in life, when you dig a little deeper, push a little harder, and travel a bit further you get the best results.
For my trip through the American West I imagined myself as discovering these lands, raw and untouched, for the first time in history. Over 14,000 miles were traveled and through each grueling hike, even in subzero temperatures, I rarely felt physically exhausted – just invigorated by the sense of discovery that comes with exploration.
I feel this sense of responsibility in coming back with images that convey a sense of discovery replicated through tone, detail, and subject. I want collectors to notice something new woven into the fabric of each print each time they look at my work on their wall.
Prior to entering the Rendille community I documented in Kenya, I was asked to sit down with the elders at the entrance to their village. This was an important ritual that marked not only the elders acceptance of my presence, but was also an event designed to create a mutual level of comfort between the two of us. It let everyone else in the village know that my presence was welcome, and the effect of sitting down for a discussion with our interpreter between us felt as if we were forging a spiritual connection that allowed me to be there.
These trips to document unique lands or cultures are transformative because as you get closer to your subject, it offers the opportunity to reflect and reevaluate the understanding you walked in with. I’m often in locations of geographic isolation and this, combined with other cultural elements, can provide a very humbling and rewarding experience. Developing an understanding of the the essence or spirit of my subject means I will be walking away with a stronger, more emotionally effective image.