I grew up in the Detroit Metro area and was into the punk rock scene and skateboarding...
As adventurers and explorers, we sometimes believe that all of our heroes were born on the dirt floor of a log cabin (logs felled, peeled, and seasoned on site of course), reared by wolves or marmots and nursed on liquid adventure and pure grit. More often than not, adventure’s spark is first kindled in more urban locales. Contributing Osprey Packs photographer Andrew Maguire shares his journey from the Motor City to Chamonix and beyond as part of our ongoing featured photographer series.
How did you get into photography? What did you do before it became your profession?I got into photography during high school after taking a couple black and white photography classes. I grew up in the Detroit Metro area and was into the punk rock scene and skateboarding and lots of my early photography shots were of bands and the skate spots in and around Detroit that we found. I was studying to be a K-12 teacher and eventually focused on art education. I needed to get out of Detroit so I moved to Grand Rapids where I enrolled in art school and dual majored in photography and art education. After graduating, I worked as a freelance assistant and second shooter for a handful of successful commercial photographers around the Midwest. I was burning out working contract jobs shooting furniture for Herman Miller, Steelcase, etc., so I created a portfolio of all my crazy friends snowboarding, hiking and trail running. I pushed that book hard around the Midwest and East Coast and slowly started gaining traction with a few outdoor brands, which brings us to where I am today...living in Colorado and shooting around the world. A crazy journey from where I began back in Detroit.
What advice would you give the aspiring outdoor photographer?Oh man, that is a tough one. I feel like the outdoor photography market is very saturated. There are so many photographers shooting people doing badass stuff outside...I am constantly discovering new shooters that are creating killer imagery. Overall, I think my best advice would be to shoot a lot. I remember my early mentors back in the film days handing me 10 rolls of film on a Friday and telling me to "shoot it all this weekend." Thankfully, digital has made a lot more feasible. It’s easy to shoot your friends but I always get the best shots when I branch out of my comfort zone and shoot something or someone new. There are a handful of pro level athletes who would never say NO to a photographer if they asked to snap some frames while they practice or train. It’s just a matter of making the effort to reach out to new folks and get off the computer.
Who inspires you/who are the photographers that have influenced you most?I’m inspired by the athletes and individuals that are out there pushing boundaries. I was and still am blown away by people like Jimmy Chin who go to these unreal places and capture explorers doing the most badass &@#!. The athleticism and experience they have acquired in the mountains is admirable...and you need those skills to capture that level of imagery. I remember watching the YouTube video of those guys skiing down Everest in 2006 while I was sitting in an art history lecture...mind blowing. Those are the kind of people whose work and achievements keep you moving as a photographer and creative. There will always be another step for me to take my photography and my knowledge/abilities in the mountains.
Can you elaborate on this? Are you saying that there always be bigger challenges, or that there will always be another step to take your skills further into the mountains (commitment, scale, challenge, etc.)?I'd like to continue pushing myself both creatively and athletically as a photographer and in the mountains. It’s easy to grab an athlete and cruise over to the closest trail head or wave break and snap some great shots....I'd like to push myself towards more long term documentary projects and expedition style adventures where there is a bit more narrative and story behind the action and landscape. I like the idea of retiring in 20 years with a digital archive of rich stories as opposed to a stack of advertisements.
What’s the most absurd or coolest thing that you’ve encountered as a photographer?I've seen a lot of weird #*$% traveling, but those stories are better told at the bar. I think the coolest thing I've witnessed in the past few years would be the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc race last August in Chamonix, France. Just being in Chamonix is rad...it’s the birthplace for all big mountain sports and you can really feel that history and energy when you are there. It was moving to sit at the finish line for the Chamonix-Courmayeur-Champex CCC and UTMB races and watch the American athletes cross the finish line in the top 3. For a race and sport that has been dominated for so long by the European athletes, it’s incredible to see the podium stacked with Yanks.
How has the outdoor photography landscape/environment changed in your mind, and where do you see it moving in the future?