Australian adventure photographer Krystle Wright has toughed out a lot of assignments in her first six years of shooting. When the now 25-year-old showed up to the Elephant Polo Championships in Nepal, there weren’t enough teams, so she volunteered for a new squad, hopped on the back of a pachyderm, and started swinging a 10-foot mallet. During a trip to Yangshuo, China to shoot climbers, she crashed a mountain bike into a ditch and lost a couple of her front teeth. A dentist shoved cotton over the exposed nerves and she finished her assignment. During a paragliding shoot in Pakistan, she and her partner crashed into a boulder on a steep hillside and that accident left her with a black eye, bruises all over her body, and fractured bones in her foot. Even though it led to an emergency evac on a homemade stretcher and a stay in a military hospital, she plans to go back next year to paraglide and shoot more. The only thing more fantastic than the spills she’s survived in foreign countries, are the photos she brings back. For one of her recent series, she went on a month-long trip to shoot BASE jumpers on Baffin Island. We caught up with her in Australia to find out more about it.
Do you consider yourself an adventure photographer? Yeah, certainly, that’s how I promote myself these days. I think when I’m back in Sydney everyone thinks I’m a nutcase. When I came back from that shoot in Pakistan all of the guys were just staring at me because I had crutches, a moon boot, and a red eyeball for five weeks. There were all just like, “You are insane.” But I didn’t think it was that bad. I’m just addicted to adventure. But I’m also addicted to going places you normally wouldn’t go. I think it’s for motivation—for the awesome feeling that results.
Was their one moment when you knew you could make it a career? I got up really early one morning when there was a really good swell down on the Gold Coast and I drove to Snapper, and I shot this surfer walking out. At Snapper you get this backwash that happens, and when it hits a wave, it really jacks the water up. You know when you take a photo that’s pretty good. You know it’s pretty special. That was when I was 21.
How do you pick your assignments? It’s a funny way of how I stumble onto things. I guess I’m kind of young in the industry so I’m certainly not at a level where I get to pick and choose what I want. The Pakistan gig actually came from a trip where I went to Nepal and I met the world acro paragliding champion Horacio Llorens. He told me he was going to Pakistan and I waited for two years and we finally made it happen last year. I think it’s through constant networking. I got these BASE assignments through constant connection with the BASE community. I kept hanging out with them and photographing and sort of kept pushing them, and they were like, we're going to do this thing.
This past Sunday's New York Times Magazineran a photo gallery called “The Shape of Things,” featuring the work of Tierney Gearon. I hadn’t heard of her before, but her images of young children and animals enclosed in brightly colored, Plexiglas cubes and set outside on the snow and grass were so fresh and arresting, I wanted to know more.
A U.S. Army sergeant launches a UAV. Photo: The U.S. Army
Ecologists and conservationists have long and frustrating lists of hurdles that keep them from doing field work. Aside from the wild, dangerous miles between them and the remote regions of the world they need to examine, there are unfriendly governments and armed militias. There's the high cost and complexity of traveling to remote jungles or tundras. And sometimes the act of transporting oneself to a research site can actually hurt the research -- in the Arctic, emissions from gas-powered snowmobiles can skew the air samples that researchers need to capture.
Enter, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), remotely controlled drones, equipped with camera, GPS and a range of other sensors, that have long used for military surveillance applications. Today, conservationists, ecologists and other environmental researchers are turning UAVs to do everything from mapping deforestation to counting wildlife to collecting data in disaster areas, such as offshore oil spills or accidents at nuclear energy plants.
This spring, Andrew Badenoch plans to launch a 7,000-mile trip from Bellingham, Wash., up to the southern coast of the Arctic Ocean, before looping back. His locomotion will be a fatbike and a small packable raft. The former marketer, who ditched his corporate job to live aboard his sail boat and write, has never done an expedition like this before. But that hasn't stopped around 200 individuals—many of whom don't even know Badenoch—from raising nearly $10,000 $10,500 to support his mission, via Kickstarter.
Whether they're driven by a quest for fame, a search for answers, or a politcal (awareness-raising) objective, major expeditions attract attention and make for good headlines. Oftentimes, corporations sponsor trips, and/or the trips act a fundraising vehicles for nonprofit organisations. Not so for "Fatbikerafting the Arctic," Badenoch's Kickstarter campaign. His benefactors are people who just think his trip sounds interesting, and who want dibs on the things—from a documentary movie to an expedition training guide—that he plans to create once the trip is complete. And Badenoch, by his own admission, is just a guy who wants to prove a point.