When Life Gives You Lemons….

There is the old adage,   “When life gives you lemons,  make lemonade”     I find this is something that I have to put into play quite a lot in my life,  even more so now that we find ourselves on our ongoing “adventure of a lifetime” roadtrip across this great country of ours.    Traveling across the land hauling your life along with you is exciting but as you can imagine, it presents some challenges.

For all the prep and planning we do, life on the road can throw you curve balls when you least expect them and you have to just roll with the punches and see where it takes you.   Often times if you look for the positive you will find opportunities will present themselves….   There is nothing I like more than times when you find that you have taken a wrong turn down the “wrong road” or had a issue that waylays you, rather than becoming a problem… it puts you in a place you never expected to be and it turns out to be exactly where you were supposed to be.     What I mean by this, is an opportunity or an experience presents itself that you never would have had if it had not been for that problem or mistake you made that got you here.   Some call it Kismet or even Destiny.    Whatever you call it,  if you keep your eyes open you find some pretty cool experiences and photos to be made.  See the photo below which I created on the one such incident…

Earlier this fall we were just wrapping up spending the last 6 months bouncing around the Pacific Northwest up and down the coast from Northern California to Canada.   Now heading towards Utah,  I mistakenly turned East too early and instead of taking an easy cut across the mountains in a valley, ended up on a very narrow, twisty & windy road through the Shasta Trinity Mountain range.     This makes for a white knuckle ride when you are pulling a 42 foot rig….   31,000 lbs of fun as you make your way over hills and around narrow passages. Not only was it a scary drive on it’s own, but the skies were jet black as an impending storm was about to hit.  Just when I began to really curse myself, trying to decide if I should turn back or press on through, I decided to pull over next to the river that was following my path just before the skies opened up to dump rain on us.

What I saw when I got out that I could not see while driving, was the view down river to our rear.     Here was this AMAZING mountain river location with the most incredible light shining from the clouds and shining through the oncoming rain that was falling.   I am lucky that I always try to have my camera ready and I was able to capture this amazing scene as it unfolded before me.     The only thing missing was a fly fishermen to complete the scene which I then added in with Photoshop later.   It made for a killer book shot and will also no doubt bring in some decent stock sales opportunities down the line.     I call this shot,   “When a wrong turn puts you exactly where you are  supposed to be.”

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Another amazing opportunity that came from a bit of misfortune was when we were on our way from Park City Utah, to our March/April homebase of Breckenridge Colorado.  About 1/2 way there, in a little nothing town called Meeker CO, we had a mechanical issue with our tow vehicle which forced us to stop.   As luck would have it, there was a nice little RV Park just opening for the fishing season right on the river about a mile from where we broke down.       After checking in and getting the RV set up we set out to investigate our surroundings.   What we found was the little town of Meeker resembled more of a ghost town than anything.     It was during dinner that we asked the proprietor what there was to do in this town as we were going to be here a few days…  It was then that he mentioned that “every one is out at the dog races” for the weekend.

Turns out he was right because by the time we got finished dinner,  the little town was suddenly overtaken by teams of people with their dogs.    After talking with some of them I learned that this weekend the final races for the season where taking place about 40 miles away up in the White River National Forest.   The exact directions I got from 3 different people were,   “Just drive down this road a mile and turn right at ‘the sign’ and follow that road 39 miles until it ends”   I thought to myself,    “Umm…. Ok.   that doesn’t sound weird at all” as I looked on the tiny road to nowhere on the map.   So despite any reservations,  the very next morning I set off in good faith driving the 40 some miles farther down this tiny road taking me farther and farther from the tiny town of Meeker into the wilderness….  all the while thinking, “this must be some kind of joke”.   In actuality it was a very pretty drive….. After about an hour,  low and behold the road ended as I had been told and there in the middle of the woods was this mini winter festival of dog sled enthusiasts and about 100 dogs.   You knew you were here as you pulled up because of the sound… ALL the dogs are barking!   It’s quite exciting walking around and seeing everyone getting ready for the races.    I have never seen dogs so excited about getting ready to run.   As their handlers get them harnessed up and hitched onto one another they are loosing their minds, barking and tugging at their leashes.     They actually have to tie them off to their cars or they would just take off without them. All in all it was quite a cool experience & you won’t find a nicer group of people.   Everyone was interested why I was there and who I was shooting for.     I got a quick lesson on the happenings of the day and intros to the folks running the show and the Rocky Mountain Dog Sled club.   I even met a nice older gentleman named Mike who was having his 70-something birthday that day and heading out on the course racing his dogs.   He’d been racing for over 35 years and not about to slow down now.

As I clicked away watching group after group of dogs heading out onto the trail towing their various handlers on sleds and skis, (Skijouring) it struck me yet again how cool this is…   here I am stuck in the middle of nowhere with no-one who can even look at my truck until Monday and I find myself with this opportunity to shoot some amazing sled dog races, continue building my book and meet some really great people in the process.  Turned out to be a great weekend!    I love my job!

 

Park City Powder Cat Guides – The American Worker #8

JohnnyStairStepsV2This entry into The American Worker Series led me way up high to some of the very best back country skiing terrain available in the country.     I was very fortunate recently to have been invited to join the guides of Park City Powder Cats on the beautiful 1000 Peaks Ranch in the high Uinta Mountains  just east of Park City Utah for two days during a storm that dumped well over foot and a half of fresh powder on of some of the most epic terrain I have ever ridden.   Over the two days I met some amazing people and got some really great photos while getting access to some of the most epic skiing and snowboarding terrain one can find.    *Note-  Some of these images need to be seen large to really get enormity of the terrain…. click the image to see a larger version.PCPowdercats1394PCPowdercats1553For those of you that have not heard of back country Powder Cat skiing,  you don’t know what you have been missing.    Instead of skiing within the boundaries of a ski resort and being herded with the hoards and masses up ski lifts where you are lucky if you get one un-tracked line on a powder day,  you are instead being brought up a private mountain in a heated Powder Cat coach that delivers you and 9 or 10 other lucky skiers and snowboarders to the top of some of the best un-tracked terrain in the country.    At Park City Powder Cats they have over 43,000 acres of private land to choose from.   That is an area larger than Vail,  Aspen and Killington Mountains combined.    What that means is you can go for days and days and never have to ski over someone’s tracks if you choose not to.       We are talking HUGE bowls of steep and deep riding in some of the lightest and fluffiest powder I have ever experienced,  which says a lot as I have well over 20 years on the snow.

A warning though….  a few good days here will literally ruin your experience at even the very best ski resort out there.    It sets the benchmark way high and everything else pales by comparison.  🙂

CatOnPeak1 PCPowdercats1604v2sqSo epic skiing aside,  my reason for being here was to shoot the people that make it all happen at PCcats.     I wanted to document the hard working ski guides,  snow safety and drivers that take people out day after day into some of the most incredible,  (yet potentially dangerous) areas to feed their nonstop craving for fresh un-tracked powder.       Over our two day shoot I had the pleasure of shooting and riding with their amazing guides Johnny,  Jason, Chris and Nancy.     These folks have the best jobs in the world and they are very good at it.    Their ever present positive attitude is infectious.     Though I guess it would be easy to be positive given the venue in which they work!

PCPowdercats0456Sq PCPowdercats1802sq It’s not all just “atta boy’s and good jobs” though,  in addition to making sure people have a great time,  this hard working team’s most important job is one of making sure your experience is a safe one.   You have to remember that this is the back country and it can be extremely dangerous if you do not respect it and know what you are doing.  Avalance potential is ever present in the back country and it is paramount that you know what to do and not to do.   Every skiier is given an avalanche beacon and a safety briefing in the morning before leaving base camp.    Before each individual run,  they tell you exactly where to go, or (more importantly), where not to go to keep you safe.    The guides work very closely with their expert snow safety patrols.   Together they constantly assess the conditions and determine where their next run will be and exactly what parts of each peak will be not only the best run,  but also how to best approach these runs to get everyone down safely without incedent.PCPowdercats0371

PCPowdercats0865sqTheir snow safety team are constantly out on the various parts of the mountain during the day cutting new lines,  knocking down dangerous cornices and throwing the occasional explosive charge to help mitigate much of the avalanche risk.    They work hand in hand with the guides to help them to craft the perfect day for their guests and keep them out of harm’s way.PCPowdercats0952-2v3The image above shows snow safety patrollers Dave and Wes setting a charge to help shake loose any dangerous snow that might potentially be a problem to their guests.   This particular shot was from Day 1 of our shoot way up high around 11,000 feet on a seriously steep grade with a dangerous cornice during one of the only moments where the visibility was good and not a complete white out.    Nothing like heading out to the top of the world and throwing explosives, all in the name of safety!     They have to be on top of their game and have razor sharp focus as without what they do,  as the guides would have no way of knowing what each face is doing on that particular day without them.

 

PCPowdercats1815webThis is General Manager and head honcho Ron.    This guy is amazing.   He is quite literally everywhere doing every conceivable job you can think of… from helping coordinate guests, to running a cat up the mountain to groom the cat trails so that the drivers can get the guests to where they need to be, to shuttling people out on snowmobiles that need to get to different areas around the mountain, to coordinating with a production company filming a movie on property.  He does everything and all with a constant smile on his face!   With him running the show and his amazing “Can Do” attitude it is no surprise that he has such a well oiled and positive team.   Good management filters down through the ranks and it shows throughout their entire operation.

PCPowdercats0265Last but not least are their team of talented powder cat drivers.    Without these guys at the helm they wouldn’t be able to deliver their guests to these amazing spots.    Make no mistake, their job is not easy.    They have to be experts at what they are doing.  These are large, HEAVY pieces of machinery,  they do everything from crossing running ice cold river beds to climbing up super steep grades and chugging through giant snow drifts that can take 5 or 6 tries to get through.    There are many times on any given climb when you look out the window and realize you are motoring up a steep grade riding on only a tiny ridge line with no room to spare on either side, and thousand foot drops to your right and left.    These guys do it without breaking a sweat!!

If you are an advanced skiier and you’ve never done this before,   you owe it to yourself to save up and go out and do it at least once.     I guarantee when you leave, you will leave craving your next opportunity!     You can reach them here to book your next trip!!

PCcats-Basecamp-web

L.E.D. Snowboarding Video

The spray of the snow, the snaking curves, the pure white backdrop … watching a pro snowboarder glide effortlessly down a mountain pass can be mesmerizing. But when you add a dark night, L.E.D. lighting and a fashion photographer, it can be art.

Surrealist pop culture photographer and filmmaker Jacob Sutton joined pro snowboarder William Hughes on the slopes of Tignes in the Rhone-Alpes region of southeast France with a Red Epic camera, an L.E.D.-bejeweled snowsuit and, according to Nowness.com, plenty of vin rouge to keep Hughes warm during those three icy nights. The result is something so stunning, it makes you wonder why the Winter X Games are ever held in daylight.

Sutton wanted Hughes to be the only light source in the short film. Although the lights are wrapped around his suit, when Hughes tears into the snow, he’s seems to be glowing from within. Perhaps that’s just the magic of good French wine.

The Dark Side of the Lens

As I am making my way into the world of motion I find myself searching for inspiration and find, like in any medium, there are some very talented folks out there doing really great work. I will post a few here under the “Inspiration” categories from time to time. Check out this very cool video by Director Mickey Smith.

Dark Side of the Lens
Director- Mickey Smith
DP- Mickey Smith and Allan Wilson
Produced by Astray Films

DARK SIDE OF THE LENS from Astray Films on Vimeo.

Shinya Kimura


This is a video directed by Henrik Hansen and DP’ed by Adam Richards.   Great direction, beautifully shot and cut.   This documentary was one of 5 films nominated for the 2010 Vimeo Awards.

I actually had the pleasure of working alongside Henrik on a job for Saatchi & Saatchi for Lenovo computers a few weeks back.   Henrik Directed the TV commercial and I shot the still photos for the ad campaign.   My team and I worked in a collaborative effort alongside Henrik and the motion crew for two days then shot a day of just stills.   Great shoot.   I have to say that working alongside Henrik was really a pleasure.   I have worked with my share of directors in the past and at times it can be a trying experience.   In some instances the stills crew is often looked at as a nuisance and treated as such.   Small cog in a larger machine so to speak.   I, however,  am very good at finding ways to work within their crews and respect their protocols and get what I need without getting in their way.

Fortunately working with Henrik was much easier.   He recognized that we are all there to work toward a common goal and gave me access that we needed on their set and we got some really great stuff together.   We were actually able to return the favor on our print day when they needed to shoot some extra footage.   I love when everyone comes together with a collaborative spirit and works together.   It’s the way it should be.

Check out this film that Henrik directed.   It is really nice.

Shinya Kimura from Adam Richards on Vimeo.

TMB Panyee FC short film

TMB (Thai Military Bank) have launched a new brand vision “Make THE Difference” by making a film to inspire people to start thinking differently. With a hope that they will start to Make THE Difference to their own world. It doesn’t have to be big, but a little can create positive changes. This film is based on a true story. In 1986 a football team that lived on a little island in the south of Thailand called “Koh Panyee”. It’s a floating village in the middle of the sea that has not an inch of soil. The kids here loved to watch football but had nowhere to play or practice. But they didn’t let that stop them. They challenged the norm and have become a great inspiration for new generations on the island.

Credits:

Client: TMB Bank Public Company Limited, Thailand
Advertising Agency: Leo Burnett & Arc Worldwide
Creative Director: Sanpathit Tavijaroen
Art Director: Park Wannasiri
Copywriter: Puttipong Pattanapongsagorn, Chanwit Nimcharoen
Producer: Sompetch Nuntasinrapachai
Account Service: Suthasi Sukpornsinchai, Phatarada Tritiprungroj

Directed by: Matt Devine of The Glue Society,
D.O.P: Geoffrey Simpson, Producer: Alice Grant,
Production Company: Revolver Film.
Editor: Dan Lee @ The Editors.
Music score: Jingle Bells Bangkok.

Click here to view TMB Panyee FS Short Film