Photog Tip of the Week: Five Tips for Dramatic Adventure Photos with John and Kelsey of Azimuth Photo
John Borland and Kelsey Gray of Azimuth Adventure really know how to get the adrenaline going. They’ll climb anything that stands still, which can provide truly incredible and unique perspectives for photography. Since summer is quickly approaching and you’ll soon be planning your own outdoor thrills (maybe free climbing in Yosemite!), we thought a few tips might come in handy.
Rock climbing and photography go hand in hand. By its very nature, climbing puts a person in a rare position with a unique perspective of humans interacting directly with the earth itself, pushing limits and performing amazing feats while often surrounded by some of the greatest scenic views on the planet.
It’s not easy though: getting in position for the shot often requires technical skills and experience only acquired by many years of practice and instruction. To keep this short, we’ll forgo the knot tying and anchor rigging and just stick with a few of the simple tips and tricks that will make it a little easier for readers to bring home a fantastic piece of adventure!
#1: Be There and Have the Gear
The single most critical tip for getting great climbing photos is simply to put yourself through as many adventures as possible and ALWAYS have your camera on your person and accessible, no matter how difficult the terrain or weather becomes.
A small dedicated camera bag is perfect for this. Every climber’s preference is different, but between the two of us our favorites are a fanny-pack style bag large enough to hold a body and a lens or two, or a small lightweight backpack style that can be unslung easily to access your gear. Whatever you use, make sure it has a rain cover and is durable enough to take the abuse that will inevitably come.
#2: Get High and Think Ahead
Getting above or at the same level as the climber is critical to avoid the dreaded “butt-shot”. Additionally, positioning yourself with a perspective that puts the action in front of a beautiful backdrop or some interesting rock features and textures will immediately set the stage for a great shot.
#3: The World Is Not Flat
Get creative with your composition. Often a slight rotation to shift the “horizons” of the cliff and ground is just what is needed to add a sense of depth. The unconventional framing can also emphasize a tiny detail that would otherwise be missed.
#4: Climb, Climb, Climb
The more you get out there and perfect your own system of rigging and shooting in vertical terrain, the easier it will be to take more winning photos to bring home.
And finally, we’ll leave you with perhaps the most important part of climbing photography, and one which SmugMug helps with enormously: Share your photos with the world!
- John and Kelsey