INTO THE MOUNTAINS
February 14, 2019
An Interview with BKBX Artist, Chris Shane
For us, adventure is not merely about exploring outside. It’s also about challenging yourself to live in the moment. It’s about showing up for what you believe in. At BKBX, we want to highlight the superhumans of our community who work to adventurously expand their human potential. That’s why we’re proud to introduce Chris Shane as our first BKBX Artist.
Chris, a member of both BKBX and Brooklyn Boulders, is a skilled adventure photographer, documentarian, and filmmaker. As a mountain athlete himself, Chris works with outdoor brands and athletes, in addition to film and photojournalism projects focused on social justice initiatives.
We were excited to sit down with him recently and learn more about what inspires his photography, his sense of adventure, and his upcoming goals for 2019 (and beyond).
X: Chris, what inspired you to get into adventure photography, and how did you first get started?
CS: My introduction into adventure photography, and photography in general, was sort of a natural progression of spending more time in the mountains. I got into mountaineering and climbing while in college, and quickly became obsessed with the sights and scenes I came across—especially in winter. I come from an artistic family, but never really picked up any creative tools or inspiration until I found the mountains. One year I asked for a Canon t3i for Christmas and, after that, I spent all my time learning everything I could about the camera and how to use it. Then I took it into the mountains.
X: Speaking of mountains, what adventure sports do you participate in (with or without your camera)?
CS: I’m most interested in mountaineering and climbing, but recently I’ve really gotten into trail running and big endurance days in the mountains. I’m also a cyclist. Since I played basketball competitively in college, I never got into skiing, so that is my next big sport to develop.
X: What, in your opinion, is most important to consider while shooting adventure photography?
CS: There are a lot of great reasons to learn and master the technical side of photography, and they will undoubtedly aid anyone in taking better pictures. However, I’m a big believer that the photographer must see, understand, and wholeheartedly connect with the soul of the picture and the scene before them. By doing that, it allows the photographer to capture the best, raw, most authentic moments—which is what I think we as humans tend to connect with most. If you look at the most powerful images in National Geographic, you aren’t drawn to the technical prowess or editing techniques. Instead you’re forced to feel empathy, inspiration, drama, excitement, which is a testament to the photographer truly grasping and understanding the moment in front of them.
X: With that philosophy in mind, tell us a bit about what you hope viewers take away from your photos. As an artist, what is your intention behind the work?
CS: I want my work to contribute towards a global sense of respect for wilderness areas, protected and sacred places, and diversity of culture in America and globally. I think we’re facing a very real threat of urbanization, growing societal disconnect with the outdoors, and erosion of understanding why wilderness and the outdoors is so vital to our identity as humans. Creating art and telling stories that inspire people to get outside, go on adventures, and experience different parts of the world, I think, is a powerful tool to combating that threat.
X: Why are you stoked about BKBX?
CS: I’m stoked about BKBX because it still fosters that amazing sense of community that BKB does, but with a focused goal of getting people ready for their adventures. I’m also excited about the recovery room—something not many athletes have access to. Being able to recover faster means you can train smarter and take a proactive approach to injury prevention.
X: Do you have any new goals or upcoming projects for 2019?
CS: I have two different projects in Africa this year—one on Kilimanjaro and one documentary video in Kenya—and I’m incredibly excited about both. I’ll also be returning to Bears Ears National Monument this spring (into the parts that were rescinded by the Trump administration in 2017) to continue work on a documentary video I’m making on the archeological significance of the area. To date, there are over 100,000 known archeological sites, including thousands of 2,000 year old cliff dwellings, in the originally formed Bears Ears National Monument (most of which are no longer federally protected).
Beyond that, I’m working on planning a personal trip to the Wind River region in Wyoming this summer, a place I’m convinced is the most understatedly beautiful place in America.
My company, Pamola Creative, is working on a few film projects that I can’t share just yet, but we’re extremely excited about. Let’s just say…we’re focusing on documenting the state of Maine in its most beautiful forms for 2019.
A few mountain goals: White Mountain Hut 2 Hut in both winter and summer (50 miles). Run the 100 Mile Wilderness in Maine in 48 hours. Lead climb the Grand Teton. Climb a 6000m peak in 2019
KEEPING UP WITH CHRIS
X: It sounds like there is no shortage of adventure ahead for you. So awesome. Is there anything else you want our BKBX community to know about you and your work?