Here's To Now

The holidays are over and here I am, crammed onto a little plane flying back to Seattle. After 30-something flights this year, planes have become the thinking space just as my car had become last year. I'm honestly not sure why photographers are so hyped on doing "End of the year" reviews, buuuuut I'm going to do one anyway. 

Comparison can kill creativity, but I'm learning it can also help measure personal growth. As I look through photos from 2015 and think about the monstrous changes of life, it's hard not to compare to how I've lived this year. There's been ups and downs and twists and turns, moments of worry and doubt and happiness and too much stoke, but here I am with an entirely new portfolio of images, catalogue of stories, and somewhat new job.  

Quick backstory - A year ago I had driven 30,000 miles in my car, spent nearly 11 months on the road, and photographed 30 weddings. Add all that up and you get one burnt out guy. I had glimpses of shooting for outdoor brands here and there, but it was the friends I made at Kammok and Oru Kayak that made a difference. Fast forward through lots of thinking while driving and I decided to stop photographing weddings so I could work full time within the outdoor industry.

Back to present.

If there was one phrase I could use to sum up 2016, it'd be some good 'ol fashion Latin. It's a phrase I read in "How to Be Here" and it says Creatio Ex Nihilo, or Creation out of Nothing. Why's that important? It's a like a secret super power we all have but can't exactly figure out yet. And not that I've figured it out by any means, but it's something I explored throughout the year. Random thoughts like "Hey I don't like shooting weddings anymore, I should figure something else out. Working for some of these brands has been fun, lets see if there's something there." And so, conversation started, the word spread, I bought tickets to New Zealand with my now business partner, Adam Wells, and we were off. 

This was a year that showed the power of friendships and connections. Of asking for help and starting conversations with new people. Of not asking "what if" but saying "why not." It was a year of working and living with people, surrounding myself with movers and shakers and doers and people who build the stoke alongside me. 

From New Zealand to the Philippines, Alaska, 8,000 mile road trips, 60 miles of backcountry travel through Glacier, and everything in between, there's a lot to be thankful for. 

Here's to a year with even more stoke. An uncontainable amount. Here's to fighting for the places we call home, the wild places that have taught us how to live over the years. Here's to exploring new land, jumping in cold water, and crying from laughing too much. Here's to the people we love and keep close.

Here's to now. 

 

Headed out to Steamboat Springs, CO with the Wondercamp boys to shoot a story about Big Agnes. If I didn't love this company enough, spending a night out in some yurts with the whole team sure sealed the deal. Frozen beard, midnight showshoeing, and a solid laughter. 

Welcome to New Zealand, the chapter of 2016 that kickstarted this whole outdoor thing becoming a reality. We spent 4 weeks traveling across the country, crammed into a 12-person passenger van with all of our gear. 

 
 
 
 

This is Geoff. He's a legend. 

 
 
 
 

Josh & Magali on 120mm film 

When your friend says he found roundtrip tickets to the Philippines for $350, you buy them (even if you'll miss a flight from Singapore because of the date change). When you're riding scooters over a wet metal bridge and want to hit the breaks, don't do that. I did and now I have a fun scar on my leg from sliding out. 

After living out of my CR-V throughout last year, I had the opportunity to take a new 2016 CR-V on a 10-day road trip, snapping photos along the way for Honda. I drove 3,000 miles from Seattle all the way down to Southern Utah, across Death Valley into California, and up Highway 395 into Oregon. 

In June I was invited to join the one and only Chris Brinlee Jr. on a 3-day excursion into Alaska for a small campaign with Cotopaxi. We planned and planned our route only to show up and realize the zones could fill up, forcing us to improvise on the spot and pick a new location. We hiked 25+ miles, walked through the midnight sun until 3am, and Chris hopped onto the Denali bus in a sleeping bag. What a dude.

 
 
 

I was afraid to sleep at the bus stop because there had been a bear attack a few days earlier. Chris had no hesitation. 

At some point this summer, I thought it'd be a fun idea to try an intro to mountaineering climb. I've watched lots of friends summit some crazy peaks in the Cascades and talked to my roommate about Mount Adams. It's one of the easier and less technical routes, and after researching it a bit more, it seemed pretty doable. I called up my buddy Chris. Our conversation went something like, 

"Hey, you ever had any interest in climbing Adams?" 
"Yeah man! That'd be rad. Have you ever done anything like that?"
"Nope, first time. Gotta get some crampons and an axe. You"
"Same here."
"Cool. Next Wednesday work for you?" 
"Let's do it!" 

And so we researched, acquired some gear, learned some basic mountaineering principles, and up we went. I've backpacked and crossed many saddles, but this was the first true summit I've stood on. I remember seeing it from the plane a week earlier and laughing thinking I'll be up there pretty soon. 

 
 
 
 

Ladies and gentlemen, THE Adam Wells. 

60 miles through the backcountry of Glacier National Park - two weeks later I was in the ER because I thought I had appendicitis. Turns out I strained the muscles around my hip enough to hurt pretttttty bad. Led by two thirds of the Cochrane clan, Andy and Maddie guided us through valleys, around lakes, up and over passes, along tiny goat trails skirting steep hills, and through some gnarly cliffed out sections. This hike kicked the shit out of me but I'm so thankful for it. Type 2 fun all the way. 

 
 
 
 

Admiring the details of Hidden Lake Lookout

 
 
 

Spending four days at a trade show in Salt Lake City is great for making new friends, working out projects, and getting face time with different companies, but holy smokes I've never wanted to be outside so badly. What came out of that was a night on the salt flats. We invited our new friends, met at some random location, cooked dinner under the stars, shot BB guns at beer cans, sprawled out on the desert floor, and slept on top of old tarps. These are the times where I'm grateful for being surrounded by likeminded people and the conversations that come from sleeping outside. 

This next chapter is full of memories from driving 8,000 miles with my girlfriend, Stephanie, over 6 weeks. We drove from Washington down through California, spent a night backpacking in Yosemite, soaked in hot springs, climbed in the Buttermilks, fly fished in New Mexico, paddled in Texas, hiked in Colorado and Utah, and back home. This is what makes life full to me. This trip came together as a means of seeing people in different places, spending time on the road again, showing Steph the places that are important to me, and having that taste of no responsibility besides where to sleep and what to eat. 

 
 
 
 

No bad days with Steph 

 
 
 
 
 

Remember that level in Zelda with the shadow hands? 

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Even though this trip happened midway through driving across the West with Steph, it felt important enough to highlight on it's own. Last fall, I met some of my now best friends in Texas for 3 days of kayaking through the Santa Elena canyon. This year was round 2, same national park, same kayaks, and a few more friends. We floated 33 miles between Mexico and the US, detached from the outside world and only worrying about not flipping in small rapids. These are times I'd like to chase after more often. 

Welcome to the season of snow. For as long as I can remember, I've had an odd pain under one of my nails on my right hand. And not the sort of pain that you can brush off. Whenever the temperatures start to drop, whenever it got pressed too hard or hit, there was a sharp nerve pain that shot down my finger and hand. I've dealt with it for a while, but as winter started to come around I realized it was time to change things up. One quick surgery later, they removed a small glomus tumor (a weird build up on the nerve) and I feel like a kid playing in the snow for the first time. I can finally be outside in the cold and feel normal. Make snowballs without gloves, not worry about exposing my finger to the cold. It's hard to describe how stoked I am for the season of snow this year. Couldn't think of a better way to kick it off than snow showing up to a gnarly hut over a weekend. 

All play and no work. As the year closed out, I realized a lot of the trips and time spent outside had this weird underlying pressure to shoot branded content. Images started to become what other people would want, not what I felt like shooting. So in an effort to shake that odd feeling of discouragement, Adam, Joe, and I headed to the coast for a night of fun and no work. I shot 5 rolls of film on my Pentax and cut together a uquick little video. Going into the new year, I think it's important to remind myself that sure this is work, but ti's also what I love doing whether or not I'm getting paid. 

 
 
 
 
 

Exploring the desert while home for Christmas

And that brings us to 2am on December 31st. I started writing this post while crammed on a plane headed to Seattle, and now I'm finishing it while laying in bed listening to waves crash against the Canadian coast. Ten friends have officially rendezvoused in Tofino to celebrate how damn lucky we are to be alive, doing what we do. We've surrounded ourselves with people we love, people who inspire us, people we just met, and we're going to celebrate. Let's crush 2017 and make sure there's more time to appreciate the crazy life we've gotten ourselves into.