INSPIRATION • November 2018

Adventure photography: the story behind the shot

They’re some of the best in the business when it comes to stunning snapshots, but what adventures take place behind the lens? We grill the new class of adventure photographers for their top trips and tips

Finn Beales

Finn Beales, Mount Stromboli, Sicily

Perhaps one of the most dramatic images I’ve taken is of the eruption of Mount Stromboli off the coast of Sicily. I had been staying on the neighbouring island of Salina, and we could see the volcano lighting up the sky from the hotel. I desperately wanted to photograph it up close, so I found a local who could get me to the summit. We bounced three miles across the open sea in a rubber dinghy and undertook a five-hour climb in blistering heat. The sounds were terrifying, but the sight was fantastic.
Top tip: Moving your feet instead of a zoom ring will make you a better photographer.

Finn is an award-winning photographer, who also runs online workshops from his home in Wales. 

Alex Allen

Alex Allen, Monument Valley, Arizona/Utah, USA

Although this shot may look planned, it was anything but. I was on a sunrise tour of Monument Valley and somehow ended up being the only passenger on the minibus. My Navajo guide had just pulled us over to take in a view of the valley’s towering red-rock buttes, back lit by a candyfloss sky, when these wild horses emerged from out of nowhere. I was kneeling by the side of the road, as close as I could get without spooking them - in the end they just strolled right by as if I wasn't there. 
Top tip: I always keep my camera holstered in its bag, which I wear slung round my front and unclipped, so I can be quick on the draw if I see something I want to shoot.

Alex is a staff writer at The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and a freelance photographer based in London. 

Tom Craig

Tom Craig, Greenland

This photograph was taken in Greenland with my friend and travelling companion Adrian (pictured). The landscape has the depth and order of a classical painting: if it weren’t for his reflection, you might think he’d wandered onto a stage set. It’s absurd and touching, the gesture of joy picked out by the impersonal, epic surroundings of rock and ocean. Almost like The Truman Show on ice. These are the moments of contrast I hope to capture – between man and nature. Moments of clarity, light and life.
Top tip: Shoot even through fog. You don’t always need perfect light to create an atmosphere.

Tom Craig is a photographer with a unique look championed by publications such as Vogue and Vanity Fair. Portrait by David Bailey

Toby Mitchell

Toby Mitchell, California, USA

This photo was taken on a rather chilly September evening in Northern California. My friend and I drove for four hours around Mount Shasta in a Mini Cooper over roads that a Mini Cooper really couldn’t hack, all the while nervously keeping watch for bears and mountain lions. This photo was taken in a four-minute pocket of bliss in what was really an ill-prepared outing; Mount Shasta had been hiding in the clouds all day, but they parted just for us, and this view came into being.
Top tip:
Know where the sun is during the day and shoot in accordance to the look you want it to give. For me, this is often between 4pm and 8pm. I love soft colours and sunsets for my landscapes.

Toby is a freelance art director and photographer based in Bath, UK. 

Jenny Zarins

Jenny Zarins, Namib Desert, Namibia

I’m not sure which was most challenging, the ride itself (covering 600km over seven days in the Namib Desert) or the fact I travelled without my normal kit in such a breathtakingly beautiful place. As this was a personal trip, I brought the bare essentials, just my beloved 35mm Lomo, which is one of the most basic point and shoot cameras. It’s small and light, but I love the imagery it produces.
Top tip: Don’t worry too much about the technical side of photography - camera, lens, aperture or shutter speed don’t really matter as long as you’re happy with the imagery that you’re getting. 

Jenny is a UK-based photographer who shoots for Condé Nast Traveller and BA High Life. 

Jody Daunton

Jody Daunton, Sweden

This shoot in Sweden saw my first attempt at Nordic ice skating: long-distance skating on natural ice, popular throughout the Nordic region. I headed out onto the frozen lake with outdoorswoman Madde Burgstrom (pictured), who reassured me that her safety checks meant it was safe to be on the ice. Despite this, it was chilling to hear the sonic boom of shifting ice crack and echo beneath our feet. But this reminder of its fragility only added to the excitement.
Top tip: Sudden tempatures changes can result in condensation appearing on the lens. To avoid this, pop your gear in a zip-lock bag so it can acclimatise to the ambient temperature.

Jody is a UK-based freelance photographer, and is the creative director and co-founder of adventure journal Another Escape.

This article has been tagged Adventure, Technology