How many perfect nights like this have gone undocumented. It always frazzles my mind to think that somewhere in the world is experiencing a wild perfect sunset with nobody around to witness. At the same time it also brings great peace. The Kurils will always be in the back of my mind as one of those places that shocked me considering how inviting it was after hearing nonstop of how harsh of an environment it can be. Maybe we just got lucky.
The rim of Raikoke volcano just a week after its eruption. A once green and lush environment turned completely uninhabitable in a matter of moments.. possibly seconds. On one hand new land formations were created, extending the shoreline by hundreds of feet.. essentially the island itself was growing. On the other hand.. an unimaginable death toll to all animal species living on or near the island. Ultimately a not so microcosm of the circle of life. It will be interesting to watch this island and see the changes it makes in the years to come & how quickly life returns.
Some of us dance to a different beat. Of all the stories I’ve worked on this year, the one of my good friend @ellithor & his daughter Unnur is the one I am most grateful to tell. There are few subjects that weave life, death, passion & fatherhood more beautifully. More soon. @jefftaylr @benweiland @63mph
These once and still disputed islands remain about as untouched as when the ancient Ainu people lived there. Little to no signs of human’s exist besides the deep holes they dug for lookouts and homesteads. There is much to be explored about the opportunities for tourism vs commercial fishing or extractive resources for this area in the future. All I know for now is that getting granted the government permit to come ashore here was no easy process & basically an answer to prayers. Im hoping our film project can shed more light on this incredible place. #fromkurilswithlove
The best family portrait I have ever shot. I’m not usually one to share something similar back to back but this experience was really humbling for me.. honestly I think for all of us on the boat. Photographing a whale by itself is awesome.. but watching them interact with one another is something else altogether. Their interactions, intimacy with one another and overall mannerisms are incredible to witness. Even the way their breath is synchronized just blows me away ( no pun intended : ) . @_ryanhill_ #fromkurilswithlove
One of the more beautiful families I have ever been witness to. We only got a glimpse of this Orca pod through an opening in the fog before they dove deep back into the blue. #fromkurilswithlove
We did a double take as the ocean turned to a milky green and our boat became surrounded by highly mineralized water emerging from a volcanic hot spring. From a drone the tributary becomes visible as this steaming river winds it’s way toward the ocean. I’ve never seen this water color skim surface like this before, I guess this is what they meant when they said the Kurils were full of mystery. #fromkurilswithlove
Chasing unique angles is everything in photography. Although this one isn’t new by paragliding standards I was still pretty stoked on it when @shanedenherder showed me this small tag line & baby parachute he rigged up to hold my camera off his wing. It takes a perfect launch to not get tangled and obviously a time lapse setting to get it right. You hope that you get the tiny parachute vs camera weight just right to create enough lift. I love seeing this unique perspective of me shooting over the Utah desert.
When your passion for self promotion is greater than your passion for photography there is a problem. And yes I recognize the irony in this statement and try consider every single day in what I share, why I share it and if it brings any positivity into the world. Never before have the art & commerce side of a “creatives” life been so intertwined and it’s always important to take a step back and reflect.
The world needs your perspective. Happy World Photography day to all those that use this craft to share their creativity & passion of the world around them. Stoked to be apart of the new Sony #BeAlpha campaign that includes so many of my peers I hold in such high regard! . Cheers @curtismorgan on the epic edit & direction 🤙 @sonyalpha
Tonight! WITHIN REACH film screening & cover release party for @markomcinnis & @joshmulcoy at my studio in Pismo Beach! Come out for a fun evening of films a slideshow & some epic giveaways with a few of these legends! $10 dollars at the door. 7-10pm Food truck & kombucha on hand from @whalebirdkombucha @thepairingknife 🙌🏼 . Film by @mike_cochran @surfer_magazine
Our mission to sail the entire chain of the Lofoten islands last October, also known as the Lofoten Wall, was met with many challenges.. specifically poor weather during our multiple crossings that were anything but smooth. You might even call them Vomit inducing 🤮. Either way we finished our objective and like all good expeditions we suffered in the process of achieving our goal. This night in Trollfjord was the calmest of the trip. There was boundless gratitude this windless for safe harbors amongst storms. Something you really learn to appreciate whilst living on a boat.
Oregon It’s been too long. Teaching is a funny thing for me, I often soak up more inspiration from students than they ever know. There is a purity to their excitement about photography that reminds me of why it’s such an amazing gift to share. Grateful to meet & teach so many of you at the @sonyalpha Kando event today. Sunrise till sundown Oregon delivered.
I’ve seen the wind rage here so uncontrollably that it blew a tent 100 ft into the air & water droplets felt like nails hitting your skin. Seeing a day this calm is hard to comprehend... didn’t even think it was the same planet. How’s the double sun flare at the end?! @mattrfoley @benweiland @jefftaylr
A Sunday spent in nature. My wife & I truly cherish our family time... we have always preserved Sundays for family, an opportunity to reflect back on the week and how we could have done better & most importantly church. These Sunday’s away from home are usually the moments I miss them most. Spending time in nature, reflecting on the beauty of this planet is as close as I can get to them when I’m away. #fromkurilswithlove
@markomcinnis I couldn’t be more proud of you for shooting this photo. I still remember you calling me out of the blue 10 years ago asking me to teach you a bit about photography.. I was still just trying to figure it out myself when we spent 2 days just talking about everything I thought I knew at the time. You drove down from Oregon & slept in your car outside my small house. I was like dang this dude is dedicated. Watching your career blossom, seeing your dedication has at times brought me to tears & this photo stands as a testament to your dedication to the craft. Seeing this photo on the cover of @surfer_magazine gives me all the same goosebumps when I got my first cover. Proud of you, love you and will always be your fan. @joshmulcoy you ain’t bad yourself : ) . I’m so grateful to share the film from the trip & a slideshow at my studio in Pismo Beach next Saturday the 17th. Mark will be on hand signing prints and @joshmulcoy will be there sharing his new film. Please come out and support my brother Mark! Details & tickets in my bio link or here https://bit.ly/2YDPdTv
Maybe it’s just meaningless data? Or could a photo can be more than that. Often when I study photographs the more significant they seem to become.. like this image of darkness & light both competing for equal space and yet somehow there we are in the middle straddling the line. Balance in everything I guess. #fromkurilswithlove
The original frosted tips. #fromkurilswithlove
What now seems like a common tourist stop was once a great adventure during the early years looking for new waves along this stretch of coast. In many ways it still is for anyone that puts on a 5mm wetsuit & 7mm gloves to wrangle a North Atlantic beach break this powerful. I remember laughing once after a particular hairy session that while we were near drowning & getting hypothermic there was someone enjoying warm lamb soup & a coffee less than a 1/4 mile away at a gas station... wouldn’t trade places tho, some of the best times of my life.
Between the two small islands laid a tidal reef where waves broke off in both directions. After staring at this on maps & computer screens for years It was a real gift to see it break. There was a time where this sort of thing would keep me up at night knowing It hasn’t been surfed. But now I’m just content having seen it with my own eyes. The fact that unridden waves like this exist at all brings me such joy. #fromkurilswithlove
This friendly Fox probably thought he had found another mate, sadly it was just his reflection in my wide angle lens. This was one of my first experiences traveling with a group of talented scientists that double as great creatives. Being able to observe animals up close & from afar was a joy. I gained a greater understanding and love, than I ever could have imagined for these islands thanks to their stewardship and wisdom. #fromkurilswithlove @renan_ozturk @taylorfreesolo @_ryanhill_ @rishisugla @jtkerby @tomorrow_unlocked
It’s no secret I like to shoot wide angle.. sometimes the wider the better it seems. It could stem from my days shooting fisheye surf photos or maybe that fact that I love the intimacy and closeness that a wide angle provides. Something about feeling apart of the action or in an earshot or the conversation has always been intriguing. My go to lens has always been the 16-35 F2.8 but I regularly use the 12-24 and even the APS-C mount 10-18mm (even if it vignettes a little ) in the Kurils.. we were so close to such big volcanoes that it kinda seemed like the best way to document them. A7r4 + 10-18mm f4 #fromkurilswithlove @renan_ozturk @taylorfreesolo @rishisugla @jtkerby @tomorrow_unlocked
There is always something special about perfect alignment.. when the sun, moon or some kind of celestial body falls perfectly into frame. Maybe I’m just a bit into the superstition of it all, but I feel like maybe some good luck is created when you document things like this. Island of Raikoke, erupting last week in the Kurils. shot on @sonyalpha A7RIV with 12-24 mm F16 #fromkurilswithlove @tedhesser @renan_ozturk @taylorfreesolo @tomorrow_unlocked @rishisugla @jtkerby
Photo by @jtkerby a truly unique vision that I can only imagine a special few have witnessed.. under the right light this cave channels two perfect beams of light. Maybe the ancient Ainu people celebrated this celestial alignment. #fromkurilswithlove @rishisugla @taylorfreesolo @renan_ozturk @tedhesser @_ryanhill_ @povel @tomorrow_unlocked
This morning was one I will cherish for the rest of my life. After staring at this tiny island for nearly 6 years on google earth maps it felt like an out of body experience to finally step foot on its distant shores. A sunken Volcanic caldera where fresh water meets salt water & hot springs bubble out of of the ground. A vibrant breeding ground for arctic Fox & more bird species that I can count. For a brief moment we felt a bit like the Lost Boys in Neverland. Every one of these islands needs a border guard permission to visit, It wasn’t until the last minute that we got approval. Thanks 🙏🏽 . #fromkurilswithlove @rishisugla @jtkerby @tedhesser @tomorrow_unlocked @renan_ozturk @taylorfreesolo @_ryanhill_ @povel
Our boat, The Afina, dwarfed by the scale of active volcanoes & thousands of displaced sea birds carries as many crew as passengers. 24 in total. Sailors, engineers, cook, captain, 1st mate etc etc. all with Russian names we are struggling to pronounce, so often exchange smiles or share coffee we brought to show appreciation. Boats traveling in these rough waters are mandated to carry enough crew in case anything goes wrong. We have been lucky with good weather but their stories & videos of evading storms, waking up to boats covered in ash & weeks of bad weather are horrific. . #FromKurilsWithLove @taylorfreesolo @renan_ozturk @jtkerby @tedhesser @rishisugla @tomorrow_unlocked @povel @_ryanhill_
Moonrise Sunset. For a brief moment everything felt really calm despite being in one of the harshest places in the world. For the last few weeks I have been beta testing the new A7RIV - the new 60 megapixel full frame powerhouse from @sonyalpha The camera just got released yesterday so I can finally answer all those who have been asking what I have been shooting with on my last few expeditions. In low light & high contrast scenarios, especially like this with dark shadows & bright highlights I heavily rely on the 15 stops of dynamic range to bring back the details. Rain, sleet, salty wind & darn near terrible conditions have been zero issue for the weather-sealing. Shooting something that straddles the line between medium format in a small lightweight expedition worthy package has been insane. Especially when producing work you want to print as large as humanly possible. #FromKurilsWithLove
Words @taylorfreesolo The origin story of #fromKurilswithLove & our rag tag crew of vagabonds began when @renan_ozturk was documenting a North Pole expedition with @povel @tomorrow_unlocked The two schemed up an adventure of a life time to the Kurils. Actually, rewind. Years prior, the @chrisburkard in his relentless search for beauty was scouring the interwebs for photos of this place. Many of those photos were taken by @e_kaspersky himself, the cyber security expert who has an exuberant love for the Kurils and spearheaded the trip. Together they began to assemble a crew. That’s where I came in. I wondered if there might be an opportunity to add to the mission of creating epic imagery. Perhaps we could connect real & rigorous scientific perspectives & thus contribute to the efforts of establishing the Kurils as a Marine Protected Area through our stories. I wanted to bring in a “jack of all trades” oceanographer ( @rishisugla ) who could speak to the health of the marine ecosystem, dive with cameras, and had a desire to communicate the complexities of why, in an era of climate change, traveling this far to tell stories was important & how we could make it worthwhile. For terrestrial communication, no one better than @jtkerby Jeff and I have been friends since we were in the same arctic climate change ecology lab at PennState. He’s an expert at using drone technology for mapping landscapes and changes in plant biomass - super important data for tracking climate impacts. He’s also a @natgeo photographer and science communicator extraordinare. Aerial magician @_ryanhill_ came aboard as 1st mate to Chris. Free-style rapper and photographer @tedhessler joined as AC to Renan. The unexpected stowaway @bigdaddivladi (Vladimir Burkanov ) was a gift from the heavens, a marine mammal scientist who has studied sea lions here for over 30 years. I’m here to herd cats (boys with drones ), follow the thru lines of this soon-to-be-film and help direct our cameras & microphones towards the moments of introspection & outrospectrion on the Kurils. On what they are teaching us about mama Earth as a whole & our place in it. Stay tuned : )
My first time seeing a Killer whale. There may have been a tear or two shed. First thing I did after was text this photo to my wife & son Jeremiah. It’s amazing that this far away from home, literally the other side of the globe, we can still share these special experiences with those we love most. . #FromKurilsWithLove @jtkerby @renan_ozturk @taylorfreesolo @tedhesser @tomorrow_unlocked @rishisugla
For some places you can ‘love it to death’ by overexposing it via social media. In the case of this #FromKurilsWithLove film, I thought that may be the case as well and a question we have asked many times to the local director of @WWF in this region and Vladimir Burkanov, the leading scientist who id with us. The response is the same every time. This region needs tourism instead of extractive industries and particularly it needs more funding for ongoing research and protection. The images we are creating are specifically working toward that. This island, Ushishir, as well as many others deserves to be a full on @UNESCO world heritage site. Words & video by @renan_ozturk whom is a must follow. @taylorfreesolo @jtkerby @tedhesser @rishisugla @tomorrow_unlocked @e_kaspersky @povel @_ryanhill_ @alejandroarango13 @ollyru99 @donreverendo @bigdaddivladi ~
I wrote down somewhere that one of my dreams in life has been to photograph an active volcano... I guess I have just seen so many beautiful images of them I figured it would be this transformative experience, but in reality it was actually really eye opening. . Yesterday we arrived at the newly erupted Raikoke island that had literally just exploded week ago. We were the first media team to document it. I had no clue that this island had mostly been cliffs before we arrived .. almost zero sandy beaches. We walked along virgin shores while steam rose through the sand & burnt the soles of our shoes. Ash in the air stung as it entered our lungs & eyes while we walking along what was once a completely green and lush island. (Google what it used to look like ) What became very evident was that this volcano had destroyed any chance of life to continue to thrive on the island. Hundreds of thousand of displaced sea birds were in the sky & water with many dead on the beach. Vladimir our Russian scientist on board confirmed that the Sea Lion rookery had been wiped out leaving only a few stubborn males behind, his camera traps and observation hut also buried in ash. Dead seaweed from the changed ocean PH lined the rocks where we took samples of ash. It was altogether beautiful & terrifying. This photograph makes it appear as it has always looked this way but just weeks prior this island was vibrant green & it’s coastline was extremely different. For a deeper look check @taylorfreesolo ‘s post. Shot on @djiglobal Mavic drone. For more see @tomorrow_unlocked @renan_ozturk @rishisugla @jtkerby @povel
When words aren’t enough we just use pictures to describe our emotions. . This Kuril exploration has been an incredible collaboration of science, art & discovery. Like this image here, created with @renan_ozturk Anytime I get a chance to work with him something mind blowing usually happens. . The journey continues @taylorfreesolo @_ryanhill_ @tomorrow_unlocked @povel @rishisugla @jtkerby #fromkurilswithlove