To me, the word BLOG sounds like something that is leaving someone’s face in a somewhat less than dignified manner, and hopefully headed strait for the toilet.   Burping up the latest opinion any kind of news – real or imaginary, seems to keep the blogging community permanently contented and that’s fine, because some people obviously want that.   The world as it exists today seems to devour news of any kind at an astonishing rate and digest it no matter what it’s made out of.  When I go online I seem to be bombarded by a society made out of the fabric of the social networking age, where everything is connected in this strange, up-to-the-second web designed to let me know how many likes my recent photograph got on Facebook as well as the relationship status of someone at my school in sixth grade.   It seems like everything is tied to everything and the more information we have the more information we hunger for.

In life, I have two professions.  I am a professional photographic artist and I am also a professional guide who runs photographic tours.   I am admittedly privileged to be able to do two things that come naturally to me and very fortunate too, because they happen to be the only two things that come naturally to me.   I travel the world, frequently spending great deals of time in very remote places, often alone.   People have to remind me about things like when a presidential election is happening or what new music is like.   When I’m not completely alone in the wilds I’m working with small groups of people I can actually relate to and enjoy because they are really there in front of me and we share a common interest.  I don’t consider myself anti-social, I just consider myself selectively social, and very, very tired of what seems like an overwhelming pressure to ‘connect’, with something every time I am online.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, is the wilderness.  This is where I spend much of my year, and I desire for the freedom this affords.  People ask me how living in a tent cut off from any of the hands of man surrounded by bears or blizzards is any sort of freedom, but in fact my path through it remains unscheduled, unpredictable and entirely dependent on my relationship with that place at that time.   When I walk or drive off into the unknown, it opens a new page and I am reborn again.  There are no obligations, commitments or responsibilities at any time.   It is in this state that I choose to do art, and it is only in this state that my art is most purely reflective of the fusion between myself and the place I am experiencing.  If I can not interpret a place by myself, if I can not see creation through my own eyes alone, I find it hard to be distinguished in my art.

Perhaps I see art as I do life.  In life, too much background noise – commitments, obligations and responsibilities, make it hard for one to experience the freedom necessary to develop themselves in a unique way.   The young are often the most creative, because they have yet to be burdened by the expectations of the world around them.   Every time I go online I’m hearing expectations of what I should be doing with my art and my life – gallery shows, book projects, blogging, writing, videos, tutorials, etc.   Yet every time I consider one of these things I am reminded of why exactly it is that art and the business of art do not mix well.  Sure, I could gain far more recognition and exposure, but only at an expense so great that it takes me away from doing what I actually love, which is getting out there in search of the next adventure.

I am a very poor businessman, obviously.  I have little motivation for the things that would almost certainly make me more successful in the eyes of my peers, and almost certainly financially as well.   I’m a poor friend too, according to Facebook, which alerts me I have a thousand-something would-be friends waiting for something I have never posted – ever.   People want to hear from me, so they say – But I speak through my art, and if my art didn’t speak, I’d be back in that whirlwind cycle of information and up-to-the-minute everything half the world seems to have fallen into.  When I go there, all I want is out.

The following are pictures of myself that I made on recent treks.   What do these have to do with my thoughts here?   I am including these because as a photographer of wilderness landscapes, I am usually so focused on telling the story of the place I am visiting, I am rarely inclined to tell something of my own story as well.   I am responding to your requests that I ‘connect’ a bit more.  I do not write much about my trips into the wilderness but I am asked very often about them, especially my recent treks across Alaska’s Boundary Range and the Yukon’s Ogilvie Mountains.  Taking my own picture is obviously not my art, but as documentation of a life lived much in solitude, perhaps they should suffice.  Just don’t count on a Facebook page, Gallery or feature film on my travels coming anytime soon….

Ice Cave, Boundary Range, Alaska

Underneath a glacier during my month-long trek

Before/After Ice-Arch collapse

Before/After the Ice-Arch collapsed

Boundary Range trek, Alaska

Boundary Range trek, Alaska

One of the endless glacier crossings during my month-long trek.

One of the many glacier crossings during my month-long trek.

Normal hiking conditions when I wasn't on the Glaciers.

Normal hiking conditions when I wasn’t on the Glaciers.

Alone under the aurora while backpacking in the Yukon

Alone under the aurora while backpacking in the Yukon

One of my  winter camps in the Yukon's north

One of my winter camps in the Yukon’s north