Behind the Scenes in Baja by Alie Fohner

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It was 6:45 in the morning and I’d already run the same 100 feet of trail 6 times, maybe more. Always in a pair. A few times in front. A few times 3 strides behind. A few times with a jacket. Each time, I ran right through the center of a patch of rather spiny desert brush. My right leg was starting to look like I’d waded through a pit of angry cats. All this was just to give Matt the angle he wanted of those shoes and those shorts with the first rays of sunshine peaking over the Pacific Ocean. He had about 10 minutes of the right light to get exactly what he wanted. But, if you know Matt, you know he had the perfect shot in much less time than that.  The rest of the time was just for him to make sure, like extra sure, and for the crew to prank him in some way, which he appreciates, but only after he’s gotten that shot.

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We had come to Baja California on a photo shoot for Trailrunner Magazine and Outdoor Research. In true Hage fashion, Matt and Agnes had dreamed up a trip that was equal parts roadside taco stands, sunrise trail runs, and white sand beaches, throwing in an epic 26 mile, 6000 ft run of El Picachu, which not even the locals were quite sure how to find. We’d spend the nights drinking Pacifico and tequila and spinning life tales, but come morning, Matt would fire up the camping stove in the cheapest hotel room in town and deliver a steaming mocha along with his pre-dawn wake-up call.  We’d throw on next season’s threads and hit the trail to find that perfect sunrise spot, with Matt and Agnes each loaded down with cameras, lenses, and extra batteries, but somehow keeping up just fine.

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You have to be patient as part of the HagePhoto crew. You have wake up early and stay up late. You have to take direction in the times when you are needed and wait through the times when you are not. But on the other hand, the places where you wait are the most beautiful, at the most magical time of day. I’d run through spiny desert brush any day to see a few more sunrises like that one and spend a few more days with a pair like the Hages.  The scratches on my leg will heal. The muffler burn scar from that Harley in La Paz, on the other hand, may not. But that’s another story.

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Alie Fohner has been known to stay up until 3am before a photoshoot pulling DNA out of spit samples, asking for time-off once on location, and submitting important paperwork from the HagePhoto Airstream just before losing cell service. Signs of commitment to her dual lifestyle as doctoral student and HagePhoto geneticist.