We wrapped up this spring with a week-long shoot for the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) in Arizona’s Sonoran Desert. Founded in 1965 by renowned alpinist Paul Petzoldt, I felt privileged to work with an organization deeply committed to the sport of mountaineering. Up first was to produce a new image library showcasing the various courses they offer in wilderness medicine. Weeks before even arriving in the desert, we corresponded with NOLS instructors to narrow down a shot list from literally hundreds of wilderness medicine lessons and scenarios. Real NOLS instructors and students versed in the necessary skills were recruited for the shoot days. The organization takes presentation of technique seriously and everything needed to be done exactly right in the work.
The second part of the week revolved around a team building program offered by NOLS, mainly to groups of professionals from the business sector. Exercises include using basic navigation techniques to find challenges, which the team must work together to complete. Where the wilderness medicine was produced in the desert backcountry, this work would all take place in an urban environment. This required scouting and permitting locations in the city of Tucson. The shoot also required casting talent to better fit the ‘business professional on a day away from the office’ look we needed. During the 90-degree afternoons, we would be sweating it out while our talent from Phoenix would put on a light jacket when in the shade.
It was a productive week of shooting with the client getting several signature pictures along with a ton of supporting work. We also worked along side a videographer capturing similar aspects of these programs. We’ll be getting together with the NOLS crew again this summer for another round of production in the Rocky Mountain states.