9 professional tips for taking insane adventure photographs
Jeremiah Watt captures people dangling off boulders and surfing down mountains, highlining between cliffs and deepwater diving into the abyss. A professional adventure photographer who shoots for Patagonia, Eddie Bauer, and the Kenosha JCPenney Portrait Studio (no?), Watt's accustomed to adventure -- but his photos aren't just about the adrenaline rush; a simple facial expression, look, or gesture can make a picture great, he says. Not to mention, animals dressed up like people. (Sorry, that's us again.)
We asked Watt for his top tips for taking amazing adventure photographs, and here's what he had to say:
Pamela Shanti Pack, Indian Creek, UT
NIKON D800, 1/640
1. Have your camera settings ready
Make sure your camera's set up correctly so you can capture what you want when you want it. For me, this means RAW, a full battery, and enough memory to ensure I won’t need to swap out cards mid-shoot.
Madeleine Sorkin (NatGeo Outdoor Magazine), Castle Valley
NIKON D800, 1/640
2. Go manual
Manual settings allow you to adjust your exposure to fit specific shooting scenarios and post-processing requirements. Again, have your settings already dialed up so you can focus on shooting when the scene unfolds.
Zak Hoyt, Alaska
NIKON D800, 1/1,000
3. Find your light
While the standard sunrise and sunset are always nice, my favorite is storm light.
Geoff Harding, Popo Agie, WY
NIKON D800, 1/500
4. Find the spark
Search for some element of emotion or connection. If the subject is completely immersed in what they’re up to and you fade away, all the better.
Ronnie Jenkins, The Buttermilks, CA
NIKON D800, 1/4,000
5. Take it all in
Soak in the experience, and don’t worry about getting that “perfect” shot. Relax and explore, there's always something unique about a specific area. Look for it.
Scott Adamson, The Dagger, M7, Maple Canyon, UT
NIKON D800, 1/800
6. Size doesn't matter
You don't need to be shooting the most grandiose or jaw-dropping scenery to take amazing photographs; a lot of it comes back to the connections and environment, and trying to pick that up.
Cheyne Lempe, Mathes Crest, Yosemite Nat. Park
NIKON D800, 1/8,000
7. Choose the right vantage point
Croatia -- where I went deep-water soloing and sport climbing -- is probably one of my top destinations so far. But it doesn’t really matter if you're up a mountain or on the street in a village; in each place there's something to look for to bring the shot home. Go high, go low, examine the scene from every angle.
Alexander Watt, Wild Iris, WY
NIKON D800, 1/125
8. Take your camera everywhere
Always have a camera handy. If things are happening and a camera is the last thing on your mind, that’s when you’re gonna get a great picture — when you're excited or sad or scared. One of my favorite photos is a portrait of my son immediately after his first big tumble on single track. His face has blood and dirt on it, he’s crying, and it’s real. I’ll treasure that photograph long after I’m shooting professionally.
Marcus Caston, Alta, UT
NIKON D800, 1/2,000
9. But if you can't, use whatever camera you can get your hands on
I use my iPhone all the time; it has an excellent camera. If you have a device with a camera, any device, use it. It doesn't matter if it's a GoPro, an iPad, or top end DSLR -- just pull it out and shoot!
Chloe Pantazi is an editorial assistant on Thrillist's travel team. The most adventurous photo she's ever taken is a drunk selfie whilst dressed as a cat. Follow her snaps on Instagram and Twitter at @ChloePantazi.