Scion Canada recently featured me (and my adventure photography) in their Scion #iMAlwaysReady video series.
If you haven’t seen the short film yet, take 5 minutes to watch it now.
Going in Front of the Camera with Scion Canada
Throughout my entire career as an adventure photographer and writer, I’ve always stuck to a single guiding principle: Get Inspired. Go Outside. Explore.
My biggest hope is that my work will encourage people to find time for adventure, so the opportunity to showcase my passion for photography in the Canadian Rockies in a short video seemed perfect. I eagerly agreed to the project.
A few weeks later, I had my first call with the creative team. We talked about what inspires my creativity and developed a story that felt both authentic to my style and possible to capture in a short film. About halfway through the phone call, I realized something that should have been painfully obvious from the beginning.
In order to make a film about my photography work, I would have to be in front of the camera!
Since I had my first outdoor image published in Outdoor Photography Canada Magazine, I’ve photographed athletes and adventurers, brides and grooms, and models and random strangers. I’ve asked a musician to wake up at sunrise, after a late night gig, to capture an album cover and I’ve made an ironman triathlete miss a workout to capture a sunset portrait. I’m relentless when I have a photo idea, but in all those cases, I was firmly planted behind the lens.
When instagram became part of my daily photography life, I grudgingly put myself in a few images. One of the aspects of adventure photography I love most is a small person in a massive landscape. Ideally, I would always use a model, whether that means a professional trail runner or a friend tagging along for a photo-shoot. When I do work alone, I grudgingly walk into my own frame.
Call them a selfie if you want, but I can only recall a single image that I’d consider a portrait. Usually, I stand in the distances with my back to the camera.
This project, I soon realized, would be quite different. But I decided to embrace being the centre of focus for a few days to help promote both my photography and a company I believe in.
Capturing the Image behind the Film
After our creative brief, we decided to build the film around a single landscape photograph that inspired me to head outside.
Although there were a few guidelines, mostly concerning proximity to Calgary and ease of access, I was given free reign to choose a unique landscape. I didn’t think for long, as the concept of “inspired to recreate an old photograph” was a natural.
In the interest of full disclosure, it wasn’t an aged postcard that inspired me. It was an image I found on Google when trying to convince another photographer to head towards the Kananaskis Lakes for a summer sunrise earlier in the summer. We never found the panoramic location, but we discovered a landscape that was stunningly beautiful yet underrated compared to nearby Banff National Park.
A few weeks before we were to begin filming, I set out to find the panoramic lookout and capture an image. I succeeded and my original image was eventually transformed into the aged postcard that becomes my inspiration in the film.
Going Behind the Scenes with Scion #iMAlwaysReady
When we began filming, the seasons had dramatically changed. Winter had taken over the Alberta Rockies and the lakes were frozen, but we were undeterred. Over the course of three days, we filmed at the Old Crow Antiques in Calgary, along the TransCanada Highway, and in Alberta Rockies
I soon learned filming is a slow process, at least compared to photography, because most scenes need to be captured from various angles. Because we were running with a small crew and I was the only character in the film, capturing each scene from a variety of perspectives meant plenty of repetition. I cannot tell you how many times I opened the hatchback to change camera lenses (although I can tell you I recently had to have the camera lens attachment points repaired).
When I watch the film, I can pinpoint the moment where my expressions seem more natural. I just can’t tell you if it’s because we left the city behind and reached the mountains or if it’s because I grew more comfortable standing in front of the lens.
Either way, as we began filming the mountain scenes, I felt at ease. The film team worked hard. They kept the cars clean, set up each frame, and nailed their shots. I did my part, by suggesting the best locations and following their instructions.
Eventually, as is my habit, we left the cars behind and headed into the mountains. The viewpoint above the Kananaskis Lakes is up an unofficial, steep trail that leads to Mount Indefatigable. As we hiked towards the viewpoint, I was in my element. The film crew wasn’t; it was a real struggle to get the entire team and the necessary equipment into position. I helped haul the gear and keep people safe, but my role in simply introducing the entire Toronto-based team to a little-known Canadian Rockies viewpoint is what I’ll always remember best.
We lingered on location long after we finished filming, simply enjoying the incredible surroundings. By the time we returned to the vehicles, I knew the film team appreciated both the incredible mountains and my determination to call them both my office and my home. I just hope the video convinces you, too!
The original video and this post were both sponsored by Scion Canada. Check out their website to learn more about the brand and its unique car lineup. Make sure to use the hashtags #iMAlwaysReady and #ScioniM to share your own road trip-inspired adventures!