Got a hankering to get dirty? Ready to spend a couple of hundred nights a year out under the stars — in 20-below temperatures, wearing five jackets, with your hair frozen in front of your face? Prepared to go for a month without showering so the wolves won’t smell you?
In these great videos, a three-part series by Keith Ladzinski and a one-off by Becca Skinner, two professional adventure photographers tell their stories, how they went from young explorers with a passion for making great images to working professionals. Ladzinski is an Emmy-nominated Nikon Ambassador and contributing photographer at National Geographic. He started out shooting his older brother skateboarding in Colorado Springs. More recent projects have landed him in China, Ua Pou, and Antarctica. Along the way, he was paid for one job in watches — 30 of them — and had to have an editor at the New York Times explain to him why having your image used on the front page of some newspaper was actually a pretty big deal, few million readers and all.
Skinner is a former National Geographic Young Explorer grantee. While in school, she traveled to New Orleans to shoot the recovery in the years following Hurricane Katrina. She then used the National Geographic award to document the aftermath of the tsunami in Banda Aceh, Sumatra before spending a month on Vancouver Island with National Geographic photographer Bertie Gregory, tracking the elusive coastal wolf. She now works as a freelance photographer, creating content for a number of outdoor companies while spending more than 200 nights a year out in the wilderness.
So often, we see the photographers we look up to only as the fully formed professionals they are today. These videos are a great reminder that they too have taken sometimes circuitous paths, been uncertain about what the future would hold, and weathered challenges and risks with hard work and a belief in themselves and their friends.