On The Road With Joel Addams

Joel Addams is an adventure photographer who doesn’t shoot hardcore action, a travel photographer who gets up close and personal to his subjects. He’s an editorial and commercial photographer, a professor and a student, a curator and an artist. He is a multi-talented creator of imagery that uses emotion and mood to focus on details, like stones on a cairn, or on a more grand scale, like the magnitude of a mountain. His dream-like photos are imbued with a sense of calm and stillness, the moments influenced by his cinematography sentiments.

You can see more of his outdoor, lifestyle and travel images here.

The Dolomites of Cinque Torri are seen outside a dining area of a rifugio.

Aurora Photos: Can you speak to the premise behind your course at the University of Utah, “Photography as Communication, Art and Catalyst”, and the fascination with the art of observing vs. seeing?

Joel Addams: I was given a unique opportunity to teach in the Honors College at the University of Utah. I taught in a fashion course that looked at photography in the 20th century as much more than pictures: as a method for social and political change, and a mode of fashion styling and propagation, as a personal expression. We looked at war photography, fashion photography, art photography, commercial photography, and everything in between. It was interesting for me to delve deeper into those areas. I probably learned more than the students, to be honest. It’s amazing how photography is such a part of the historical record, but more than that, is a mode of change as well.

Two Nepali couples view Kathmandu from Swyambu Temple

[Au]: In 2014 you released the “Before I Burn” documentary about cornea extraction in Nepal. What brought you to this subject matter? How has being a still photographer informed your abilities as a filmmaker?

JA: I was in Nepal in 2006 when I was doing ophthalmology research at the Tilganga Eye Institute in graduate school. I was taken to the Pashupatinath Temple across the road to see the cremations and how the technicians worked. For “developed” countries, we are not used to the processes around death, but in Nepal and many other countries, the families prepare their relatives after they die, transport them to the temple for cremation, and perform most of the rites around the funeral. I was fascinated by the process around this, the visually interesting process and closeness of the family to their deceased loved ones. Then of course, following the corneas (just the thin clear outer portion of the eye) into surgeries and seeing the positive results was fascinating. I shot around this subject matter with the access of the hospital, and then wanted to film the process later on, starting a documentary in 2010 and finishing in 2013. Still photography was an excellent way to learn techniques of cinematography and the difficult process of learning how to tell a story visually. Filmmaking involves so much more to think about for documentary work with each portion of filmmaking its own world. Now I try to involve as many professionals as possible in my filmmaking.

A smartphone is held in the hands of a Buddhist monk in Nepal.

[Au]: It appears you have a deep respect and appreciation for all concentrations of art, even curating your own personal collection. What do you look for when purchasing a new piece? How do these pieces mesh with your own work?

JA: I’ve met a lot of photographers and filmmakers who look to other media for inspiration. Writing, music, film, painting, sculpture are very inspirational to me. Several good friends of mine, Zachary Proctor, Lane Bennion, CJ Hales, are all professional painters and have really been inspirational in terms of career, artistic understanding, and new ways of seeing. I would say their friendships have been invaluable to photography and filmmaking for me. I collect paintings for so many reasons. Maybe I love it because it has a quality that is so different from a photograph. I don’t choose paintings: they choose me! I don’t have specific things I look for. I’m not sure I know how my tastes in paintings mesh with my own work, though I think over the years, we have sometimes influenced each other.

The Grandview Overlook in Canyonlands National Park is a vast sea of desert.

[Au]:  What ignited your passion for the outdoors, and how has it broadened your creative perspective?

JA: My dad was brought up fishing the rivers around Pinedale, Wyoming and then he started backpacking the Wind Rivers – something that became rather sacred for my father. He never wanted to backpack anywhere else, actually. He started inviting me along around the age of ten, before we had any fancy outdoor clothing. We backpacked in jeans and t-shirts and external frame backpacks. I think we all enter photography from a love of something, and for so many of us, landscape photography is a beautiful entrance. Over the years, I have loved the exploration into other areas of photography, but will never pass up a good landscape. There is something really calm and fulfilling about being alone in the outdoors in good light. Don McCullin seems to have found a space in the landscape again after his many years of photographing war. It seems like a place we can all go to return to something.

A young woman wearing a winter hat holds a coffee mug outside.

[Au]:  Given your experience in both photography and educating others through workshops, what are some life lessons that you want to share with budding photographers?

JA: People starting to photograph seriously should look at as many photographs and photographers as possible early on. It seems important to explore all the avenues of photography; they’re so different. In addition, I worry sometimes when photographers seem guided by the concept of “what sells”. They may move away from images they really enjoy, but may take longer to establish a clientele from that particular style. The happiest and most successful photographers seem to be true to themselves and eventually find markets for their photography. I remember that I was scoffed at very early on for exhibiting a large portrait of a man in Nepal, being told by another photographer “that will never sell.” I’m glad I didn’t listen to him.

We’re also glad Joel didn’t listen! Otherwise, we wouldn’t have his fantastic outdoor, lifestyle and travel images on our site

David Santiago Garcia’s Comprehensive Guide to Landscape Photography

Aurora photographer David Santiago Garcia has released a beautiful new Spanish-language book entitled El Fotógrafo ante el Paisaje, which serves as a comprehensive 184-page guide offering information, examples, and tips to help photographers take their landscape images to the next level.

Through El Fotógrafo ante el Paisaje, Garcia shares his years of expertise as an outdoor photographer including technical tips on composition, lighting, equipment and more. The book is divided into five main chapters covering: basic photography skills for everyone, landscape composition, the diversity of ecosystems, natural obstacles photographers may face along the way and the challenges of nighttime photography.

El Fotógrafo ante el Paisaje also features a range of stunning images from Garcia’s career, along with useful illustrations to help shed light on the topics being discussed. The text is extensive, but the chapters are broken down into small, concise sections that facilitate learning and comprehension. In addition to inspirational imagery, the book features tables, graphs, and charts filled with crucial information to help the reader learn every aspect of the process. Without a doubt, this book is a valuable resource for both new and experienced landscape photographers alike.

El Fotógrafo ante el Paisaje is now available for purchase in SPANISH ONLY here.

About David Santiago Garcia
David is a world-renowned landscape photographer. He began shooting at the age of 16 and has since traveled to more than 60 countries with the purpose of capturing fascinating images of the natural world. David has published more than 500 photo essays in magazines like Traveler, GEO, National Geographic, Travel and Lonely Planet among others. He has exhibited at the Museum of Natural Sciences in Madrid and has completed a number of photographic and video commissions for the European Union. David Santiago Garcia is the author of a number of books providing useful information for landscape and nature photographers. See more of his work here.

Au Vol. 7: Connections

Our photographers are solitary in many ways, and their adventures are often only shared with one or two others. Despite the number of solitary subjects in Au Vol. 7, there are connections being made in every image, on every page. The moments captured reveal the triangular nature of outdoor photography: the connection between the subject, nature, and the photographer. When Rob Hammer captures a solo trail runner cutting across a lonely ridge, or Alasdair Turner photographs a young couple sharing a first canoe trip on an Alaskan lake on their wedding day, Aurora contributors connect us from our far away places to the beauty of man (and woman) exploring nature, and making connections of their own. It’s why Michael Wilson hiked the Appalachian Trail and took portraits of the people he met along the way, and why Craig Moore goes out to stand up paddle on Lake McDonald at sunrise. They take us where we’d like to go and introduce us to who we’d like to meet, and in that way, we are all connected.

Au Vol 7 Cover Large

Immerse yourself in some of our best imagery: https://issuu.com/auroraphotos/docs/au-vol-7

Image Requests

Clients often come to us looking for something very specific, and our sales team combs through the archive to put together a lightbox that fits the research request. Sometimes, however, a client is looking for something ultra specific OR they have a broader, conceptual feeling they want the image to invoke, that we can’t currently match from the archive. At that point, we’ll send out a brief to our extensive roster of photographers to try to bring in exactly what the client is looking for. The results are often incredible, and even if the images aren’t purchased by that specific client, they get added to our archive for future requests. Here are some of the most interesting briefs we’ve received, and the amazing images that arrived as a result.

An electronics company was looking for “amazing action based images,” of a person in a “go for it” moment. Think shots that illustrate motivation, anticipation or the start of an adventure, like a BASE jumper running towards the edge, or a snowboarder about to hit a jump.

Adam Roberts jumps a massive ice cliff while skiing the technical North Face NW Ridge of Mount Adams. Clouds hover below, the sun above and Mount Saint Helens hides in the distance.

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Due to the lack of snow in the West for the past few years, many of our clients were hard pressed to find recent winter fun images at resorts. One ad agency was looking for a deep pull of images from Tahoe in the winter.  The idea was to highlight all of the different things you can do in Tahoe, from skiing and snowboarding to building snowmen to hot tubs to landscapes to admiring the scenics to roasting marshmallows. Photographers were told to imagine it was a shoot they were doing for a resort when pulling photos to send.

Reine Barkered and Jaclyn Paaso on top of Red Dog Ridge deciding where to drop in at Squaw Valley Mountain Resort.

One female snowboarder looking out over Alpine Meadows Mountain Resort at sunrise.

Group of friends taking selfies on the way up the gondola at Squaw Valley Mountain Resort.

A magazine / nature conservancy was looking for images of birds for an ongoing, extensive visual journalism project to show the relationship between birds and people worldwide.

Volunteer scientists and conservationists monitor migratory Rufous Hummingbirds (Selasphorus rufus) as a part of the Hummingbird Monitoring Network. Birds are aged, sexed, weighed, and tagged at a banding station in Widgeon Marsh Park Reserve, British Columbia,

Volunteer scientists and conservationists monitor migratory Rufous Hummingbirds (Selasphorus rufus) as a part of the Hummingbird Monitoring Network. Birds are aged, sexed, weighed, and tagged at a banding station in Widgeon Marsh Park Reserve, British Columbia,

An ad agency client wanted modern, candid photography of millennials, with REAL and RELATABLE being more important than the expected “hipster” or “cool/creative” crowd. As the brief we got was very broad and could cover a lot, we tried to narrow it down for our photographers. Style and age is more important than action, but some ideas to think about: adventurous travel, connections with people, glimpses into every day life, fitness outside of a gym, waiting in line at a food truck and talking, people at work, etc. You can also think about some potential archetypes, people of certain professions or hobbies like: beer brewer, carpenter, personal trainers, etc.

Amy Harris starts the morning off right, Reno, Nevada.

Joel Oberly tries his hand at the local dominos game, Havana, Cuba.

A carpenter works on a piece of wood with a hand planer.

If you’ve got an image that you’re looking for that you just can’t find anywhere else, or just want some help with a research request, try our new Photo Request form. We’d love to hear from you and get you the image or images that you need.

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