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Alaska, Remembering an Epic Journey Northward

Time passes, nothing new. However, when one of your life's most epic journeys still sits dormant of a hard drive more than a year later unseen buy the rest of the world and even yourself it can grow into something new. But why would I let something this grand just sit and wait, why would it need to grow?

Too often I emotionally over invest in these big trips putting so much pressure on myself to get the best images possible. The pressure leading me to be devastated by my crewel self judgment of the images as not living up to the experience, falling short of how I felt when I was shooting them. Indeed sometimes I hate them not wanting to even look at them or talk about the journey because my thoughts of failure take over to the point of embarrassment.

This Alaskan journey took 3 months and during that time nearly every emotion and situation unfolded for the crew to endure alongside of the scenery. We all had such little space and hardly knew each other when we started but the idea of sailing a 18m yacht 2000 miles to Alaska and back was just to good an opportunity. We all suffered from cabin fever and had our bouts of depression and claustrophobia while we ate, drank and slept together. But at other times adrenaline filled big wave sailing was separated by glorious days of sunshine, great fishing, ruckus pub sessions and meeting some truly remarkable people.

Tracy Arms, Alaska - Sailing though some of the most beautiful glacial valleys in such fine warm weather could not have been imagined or tough of as being achievable until it actually happened.

Tracy Arms, Alaska - Sailing though some of the most beautiful glacial valleys in such fine warm weather could not have been imagined or tough of as being achievable until it actually happened.

* I hope that I am beginning to make my point that it was almost too epic and not sounding like a historical artist complaining about how good things were. *

Another example of this is my recent trip to Greenland where I spent 17 days in country and all I've done with the photos is back them up several time and push out a quick photo of a aurora. This trip cost me more than $10,000 and my goals for photographing the Greenlandic space were loose but as the time passed in such a beautiful cold place I felt so happy with my results. However, once I had left the country my attitudes changed and I fell in to a photographic depression of sorts.

Even at the time I knew that this was more the fact that again an epic was over rather than there being anything wrong with the journey or relating photos. But, I had worked so hard to make enough money to do this trip and get so very far from my comfort zone that The idea of returning brought me down. For so much work, money and time I had nothing but the stories and photographs to show for it all and this is a lot of pressure on a set of photos to live up to. 

Much the same as the Alaska trip that I just stumbled across on my hard drive while looking for something else this trip to Greenland might actually benefit from a few months marinating on the drive. I didn't shoot these trips with the express goal of making money, I'm not that delusional. But the idea of using photography to push me along further into the journey, to see it as more than just a place or a culture and to hopefully learn a few things, is what I seek. 

Aurora, Greenland, The Journey marinading on the hard drive.

Aurora, Greenland, The Journey marinading on the hard drive.

So why bother? Well I'm sure it all sounds a bit frivolous to the more sedentary folk out there but some of the experiences that get shuffled away in the mind only to be brought back to life when looking at the photos again are worth it. Like spending a few hours with a Richard who has been living in the wilderness of Alaska by himself for 10 years and shooting a few rounds off with his 12 gauge shotgun.

Steve, Ketchikan Alaska - kept us entertained for hours with stories of his town, life and times.

Steve, Ketchikan Alaska - kept us entertained for hours with stories of his town, life and times.

Or Steve in Ketchikan Alaska who invited us into his house gave us some food and drink and told us so much of his place and the exceptional things that he had done with his life. This experience, story and subsequent photo would not have happened with out this camera of mine driving me to go off track and further with only the possibility of these etherial trophies to show for it.

As I work long hard days saving for the next journey to Panama and the US seeing these images with fresh eyes and itchy feet brings back the experience and somehow makes the images valuable once again. The task of editing and writing is still to be done but now at least the drive and visual stimulation is there as well. 

For the rest of the summer here in Tasmania my goals will be to revive these stories and turn them into something worth celebrating.