Hiking Portage Pass with views of Portage Glacier and Passage Canal, Prince William Sound, Chugach NF, Alaska

How Hiking Has Shaped My Photography

Unlike most people in Photography, I didn’t pick up a camera for the love of making art. I never thought of myself as an artistic person but I wanted something better than my phone to document my hikes in the Appalachian Mountains. Quickly after getting my first Sony a6000 just like with all my hobbies I had to know everything about it and so I ran down the photography rabbit hole (and haven’t come back). Even though I do more with my camera nowadays than just documenting the trail, it has taught me a few things that have helped me immensely in my work.

Weight and Space Limitations

When you’re carrying a backpack for miles on end on the rugged trails of the Appalachian Mountains every extra ounce can make a world of difference. Even in the beginning I knew anything I bought for my camera had to be worth its weight and had to serve its purpose entirely. It taught me how to look at the logistics of what I was buying and to what purpose it served. Along with that, I was limited by space that the camera kit consumed. I wanted to be able to fit all the gear on the inside of pack in case of inclement weather to protect it and to keep it from getting beat around too much by hanging on the outside. These two limitations taught me to have a very functional mindset on my gear and to look at every purchase I made from a variety of different angles to ensure it worked how I needed it too.

Prepared for Anything

One of the best things about hiking and being out in the outdoors is it’s never the same. Today you could go on the trail you’ve been on a thousand times. Then out of nowhere the clouds break a different way giving you the perfect light for the mountain clearing up ahead and you have just seconds to capture that image. Without the hours of learning the ins and outs of your camera you can never make that split-second adjustment needed for the situation. Knowing your gear and its limitations is crucial for being able to take that photo that you might never see again. Plus, how else are you going to convince someone you saw Bigfoot without the picture to prove it?

Understanding What You Can Control

On the trail, you are at the mercy of good ol’ mother nature. You can hike the twenty miles it takes to get to the one outlook and the light just not be right for you. While you could wait for a few hours to see if conditions change, most times you’ve just got to keep going because odds are you can’t be out there forever. Knowing that there are going to be times that the lighting flat out sucks, the clouds won’t clear, and the torrential downpour just won’t stop. It’s a crucial skill to have in photography where you just worry about the things you can control and don’t stress the rest because it’s not on you. This will keep you calm in a multitude of situations that you’re going to encounter when working with clients and models.

Nowadays, my love for photography extends far past the original reason I picked up a camera. I enjoy the artistic expression it gives me on the environments and people I meet along the way. These concepts never fail to help me with shoots, packing for trips, and life in general. Hope you can find some use for them as well.