Take a minute to daydream, and escape from your desk.
Memorial Day weekend marks the opening of Maine to the outside world, and summer is right around the corner. There’s a reason tourism is one of our state’s biggest industries! Aurora’s staff weighed in on some of our favorite things to do during this beautiful, but fleeting, season.
Jose Azel, President & Founder:
- Harvesting veggies from the garden
- Driving my BMW with the top down, wind gently ruffling my hair
- Swimming in Kezar Lake
Rachel Buckley, Production Coordinator:
- Lobster boat races in Stonington, ME, which include a rope swing (YAY!) and eel infested lake (BOO!)
- Music Festivals and Fairs…hello NKOTB and Counting Crows! What can I say, I am eclectic
- 4th of July parties on Cape Cod
Sarah Cotter, Account Executive:
- Outdoor concerts
- Wearing flip flops instead of boots!
- Beach Days
Jim MacKay, Account Executive:
- Catching the Jason Spooner Band at Portland Lobster Company
- Bustins Island offshore Closest to the Pin Competition
- Winter Harbor Lobster Festival
Karl Schatz, Director:
- Camping with the kids in the back yard
- Working in the garden
- Ice cream at Toots (http://www.tootsicecream.com/welcome.html – website does not do it justice)
Larry Westler, Content Director:
- Riding my bike down Eastern Promenade trail just before sunset, looking for woodchucks.
- Outdoor beers at one of the many, MANY delicious local breweries
- Exploring the coast of Maine; one of my favorite new places is Popham Beach State Park.
Summertime is almost here, and with it comes the chance to have great adventures. Unfortunately, the season is rife with pitfalls: biting mosquitoes, sunburns, huge crowds, and even animal attacks. Luckily, Aurora Photos has some of the best outdoor, adventure, and travel photographers in the world, and we turned to them to give some tips on how to have the most fun this summer.
1. To preserve memories of summer adventures, keep your camera handy. The best camera is the one you have with you. You don’t need the newest gear either; work with what you have until you’ve outgrown it. –Ethan Welty
2. Think twice about taking a super expensive camera or lens to the beach that is not sand proof. Sand WILL find the inside of your lens and camera body, and cause damage – Scott Goldsmith
3. Sleep in beautiful places. That way you are already in position when sunset and sunrise roll around to capture beautiful photos. –Ethan Welty
4. Coffee shops (NOT Starbucks) always have local event guides with upcoming shows/concerts/cool things for the locals. It’s a great way to get into the local vibe with ease! –Tim Martin
5. Just a few simple words in the local language helps exponentially and makes people much more receptive to you as a tourist! –Tim Martin
6. One of my favorite places to go in the entire world during the summer is Door County, Wisconsin. Shopping, theatre, great Lake Michigan Beaches, canoeing, awesome fishing, parasailing, horseback riding… awesome choice of activities. Also, traditional fish boils are a must and Door County has the best cherry pie you’ll ever have in your entire life. –Marc Sirinsky
7. Always pay in local currency – even if you are paying by credit card. Most hotels, shops and high end restaurants will give you the option to pay in US Dollars but the rate they charge is usually 10-15% more than the actual exchange rate. Select the local currency option and eat the 1% fee your credit card company might charge. –Tim Martin
8. When wrestling a fifteen-foot female anaconda, DO NOT let go of her throat! The males are only about three feet long — much easier to deal with. –Robert Caputo
9. I leave a bottle of sunscreen, bug spray, a basket or bag and a sharp pocket knife in the car in the summer so I’m always prepared for spur of the moment walks on the beach or in the woods that might yield wild edibles. –Stacey Cramp
10. Three things to always bring on a hike: layers, a pocketknife and snacks. The bottom of a mountain will often be much warmer than the top, so make sure your top layer is waterproof. Dry fit shirts are invaluable…even for just walking around and shopping in hot, humid weather! –Marc Sirinsky
11. White water rafting with kids can be an amazing experience, but don’t expect the first time to go without a hitch. But with the right preparation and planning, fun whitewater is on the horizon. The number one priority when rafting in general is to come prepared for the rapids and different weather conditions that mother nature can throw at you. Make sure kids have a strong swimming foundation, always wear a life jacket even when swimming, even in gentle rapids. Bring extra food, snacks and water for the kids so their comfortable and make sure to take fun breaks and engage in on and off river activities to break the trip up. A good water fight, swimming, inflatable kayaks or inner tubes allow the children to engage in river activities beyond the whitewater. – Greg von Doersten
12. As an added bonus, here are some videos from Corey Rich that will get you amazing nighttime and campfire photography AND keep you from getting burnt in the process!
You get married, you have kids, you stop going out, you watch lots of cartoons, you memorize all the words to the Frozen soundtrack. Your life becomes about your children, rather than your passions and interests. Is it possible to do both?
We recently asked those questions of adventure photographer and outdoorsman Kennan Harvey, who seems to be able to do it all. We emailed Kennan and waited for his answers and a headshot. His response? “Will look for a good headshot, but first I need to cut some firewood for next season.”
Aurora: You’re an avid outdoorsman and climber – you were once named one of America’s top 10 best climbers by Climbing Magazine. What inspired you to become an adventure photographer, and who or what inspired your love of the outdoors?
Kennan Harvey: My love for the outdoors matured in the deep woods of western North Carolina while home schooled and living simply without electricity – our family even went car-less for several years. My mother worked for Outward Bound and introduced me to climbing. During the 70’s backpacking was almost a national pass time. We walked a lot. Ambling along a trail, with unknown corners ahead lined with green Appalachian lushness helped me develop the keen observation skills necessary for striking images. My transition to photography was initiated through a mentorship with landscape photographer Pat O’Hara, who helped satiate my wanderlust after college in exchange for help hauling his large format gear far into the wilderness. During the late 80’s there were a handful of adventure photographers such as Galen Rowell, Chris Noble and Greg Epperson who showed me the possibility of turning my climbing passion into income. At the time there were no media crews or sponsored athletes so personally combining the two gave me an early edge.
Prevailing wisdom tells us that youthful adventuresome ways are over once you have kids. That might go double for an outdoor adventure photographers. Has that been true for you?
Having a child only extended my photo career. First, kids are endlessly creative which forced me away from my set routines. I was 40 when Roan was born, suddenly I had more dominating youthful energy in the house. Having children is first about creating a safe and predictable environment for them to thrive, a wise parent then needs to encourage exploration in all things social, academic and physical. My wife and I both believe outdoor education is even more important than classroom learning. Adventures are fun ways to set obtainable goals and build success. They don’t have to be dangerous. But learning about risk management at an early age will be valuable for her teenage years and beyond. Breathing high mountain air may become her addiction or just a memory of youth. Until that point we are very similar to any soccer family – midweek practice followed by a weekend road trip – only to remote and quiet wilderness.
Your daughter currently goes camping and hiking with you and has started to rock climb as well. Are there any sports or activities you DON’T want her to attempt?
She really likes backcountry skiing and so we have a small beacon for her to carry. However, we are pretty nervous about steep terrain and avalanche hazard. I would certainly be nervous if she ended up in a ski movie at 18, but if she does she will have way more experience by then than I did at the time. Any sport with objective hazards is a parenting challenge for anyone, but it is important for kids to learn how to make good decisions. Luckily, she likes fun over danger and so far has shown good judgment managing risk.
Many photographers use their children as free models. Your images of your daughter have an authenticity to them, they’re in the moment, and there’s a bit of wildness there. Has your daughter gotten sick of you taking photos yet?
There is a saying, “Kids don’t come with instructions!” So right at the beginning, we just went family adventuring and now Roan seems to have the bug. When a good photo materializes mid adventure, often with serendipity, fleeting and authentic, it only takes a moment to capture. Any grumpiness is easily dispelled when she hears, “A few photos now and we can start planning our next adventure!” Bringing a friends adds magic. Jumping off a rock into the water a couple times first, for example, keeps the activity organic and sometimes Roan even makes the photo suggestion.
Many might think your work isn’t really work — you get to spend so much time outdoors in nature — but the life of a photographer is often grueling, with long days and heavy equipment. How do you maintain a good work / life balance and keep the outdoors fun?
I recently finished climbing a granite ridgeline in a windstorm, in the winter, with skis strapped to full packs. It was way more than anticipated and we wondered about the worth. But then, after an exhausting day we topped out into 5 minutes of glorious light. Above us were dark clouds with the rays of the setting sun bouncing off of their undersides and painting a sea of alpine rock with gold. My life does have more work, but in these moments, there is balance. Parenting is no different. There are days where the work of parenting is exhausting, but then just 5 minutes of glorious light, and it makes it all worth it.
In this age of technology, surely even your child wants to be on the computer, cell phone or watching TV. Do you have advice for other parents who want to get their children to spend more time in nature?
In my view, technological obsession with kids is a sign of boredom. I realize all situations are different, but with 300 days of sun a year in Durango, kids around here would much rather ride a bike or the zip line, even planting peas is more fun than screen time. It also helps that we live in a solar powered house with a hard wired computer and no wireless. Photographer Ace Kvale once told me that the best way to become a photographer is to just start. My advice for parents wanting to get their kids into nature is the same, just pack the car and find a campsite.