Mountains and Moose: First Week Working with HagePhoto

Emily Lester Photography

Matt works with Agnes and Dusty to take some photographs in Archangel Valley.

Seek. Opportunity.

I initially sought out an internship at HagePhoto because I was so impressed with their expansive and extraordinary body of work.  And, because the lure of active lifestyle and outdoor recreation photography captivated me. I spent many hours preparing for this summer experience – lots of emails exchanged with Matt and Agnes, researching the area, daydreaming about getting the perfect shot. But despite my best preparation, I arrived knowing simply two things, I was a “cheechako”– a newcomer to Alaska – and I was ready to embark on an exciting and educational photography internship.

Archangel Valley in the Talkeetna Mountains

Archangel Valley in the Talkeetna Mountains.

From the moment my plane touched down in Anchorage, I was immersed in HagePhoto business. My first task was to submit photos to stock agencies and scrub logos off the gear in those photos. It’s tedious work, but I’ve improved by Photoshop skills, especially using the clone tool, and learned how the stock agencies prefer photos submitted. This process is a good reminder that active lifestyle photography isn’t all adventure, but requires a good amount of work behind the scenes.

Behind the scenes with Matt on a mountain biking clothing shoot.

Behind the scenes with Matt on a mountain bike apparel shoot.

Bells. Bear spray. Bug spray. Camera. Check. One of the first photoshoots we went on was a mountain biking shoot on the local trails in Anchorage. One of the great things about active lifestyle photography, you don’t just drive to your site, you hike, bike, rappel… getting there is part of it! We rode for several miles, almost reaching our destination, when all the sudden, a moose appeared in our path. A MOOSE!! All the “natives” remained calm, Matt even tried to coax the moose to move, while me, the “cheechako,” whipped out my cell phone and started taking photos. It’s not every day, or ever, that you see a moose in Tennessee! The photoshoot was a great learning experience, and not just in how to get a moose to move out of your path. Observing Matt work with the talent, set up the shot, and observe the light, was a great introduction into this genre of photography.

The Moose Encounter.

The Moose Encounter.

When Matt says, “We are going out to do _____activity and shoot,” my initial reaction was “Great! Have camera, ready to travel! Let’s go!” But I’m learning, it’s not that simple. Matt and Agnes don’t just grab their camera and head off into the wilderness. The preparation is the key to a successful photoshoot. Each photoshoot starts with coordinating schedules with the talent, which can get complicated. Packing all the gear (and not just camera gear depending on the type of shoot), can be time consuming, but critical. Each shoot is unique – including overnight backpacking trips, camping scenes, or rock climbing expeditions, and each requires a specific plan and a strategy. And the most important item on the Hage’s packing list – their precious son, Dusty. Isn’t he adorable? Clearly, this is one of the greatest perks of intern life!

Luckily, I got to hold baby Dusty for a few minutes while watching mom and dad work.

Luckily, I got to hold baby Dusty for a few minutes while watching mom and dad work.

After several trips, and lots of beautiful photos, what I have learned is that active lifestyle photography isn’t simply adventures. Planning and preparation are the foundation of this type of photography. And now that I’ve learned the basics, I’m excited for the opportunities that lie ahead.


Matt nailing shots in a beautiful scene in Chugach State Park.

Until the next time…

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