Personal Work

ALIVE: The life and death story of an Alaskan plane crash

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View the entire ALIVE series

Little Known Fact: Before I was a photographer, I was a wilderness survival guide, running courses on wilderness living on multiple continents. Last fall I was musing over concepts for a new personal campaign with HMUA/Art Director Lindsey Watkins when it hit me– with all the experience in survival, why not tell a realistic survival story? We decided to collaborate on illustrating the story of two Alaskan researchers whose plane crashes while flying over interior Alaska.

March 15th. Two geologic researchers from Fairbanks, AK were flying over the interior when a flock of geese smashed their windshield and forced a crash-landing in the Yukon-Tanana Wilderness. The pilot managed to prevent a catastrophic landing but died from wounds resulting from the crash, leaving a severely injured man and surviving woman alone in the vast wilderness region. With the onset of an late-season cold front and search area of tens of thousands of acres, there is little prospect of finding the crash site.

I don’t want to give away more than that in words. Here’s a story that is realistic about the difficulty and suffering of a survival situation and also illustrates the incredible capacity some human beings have to overcome the insurmountable and even thrive in the wilderness.

Shooting started in late November. My assistant and I hiked off into the Enchantment Lakes Wilderness in the North Cascades of Washington, armed with tons of outdoor gear and camera equipment. After a week of hard snowshoeing up the sides of mountains, I managed to get some terrific plates to setup our survival scenario. In January, we pulled together a fantastic crew in the studio to shoot the talent and the action, which were then composited together with the outdoor scenes to create the story of our tragic survivors.

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The result was surprising. Despite having storyboarded and then mocked up each shot with stand-in talent, I think we were all floored when actress Alyssa Kay brought an incredible intensity of emotion and expression to the scenes. While retouching, I found my own mental state to be a bit unbalanced after staring at photographs of her sadness in closeup portraits, as well as the degree of suffering model Andy Gregory exhibited with the help of SFX Artist Shawn Shelton.

Many thanks to our fantastic crew. In addition to Lindsey and Shawn, it took the considerable talents of Deb Tudor with wardrobe, Mandy Kehoe with props, and the assistance of Dalton Green, Casey Nation and Colton Running. What truly made this series come alive were the acting abilities of actors Alyssa Kay and model Andy Gregory, cast by Samara Lerman. Also I’d like to give a special thanks to Tina Yaw for her assistance on our production mockups, and pilot Jeff Chang with Rainier Flight Service who provided aircraft and flight time over the Enchantments.

It’s my sincere hope that everyone who sees this series walks away feeling a little more thankful for all the wonders we have in our lives. I know I am.

An Inside Interview on ROCK Photos with Deadpoint Magazine

DPM-Cover-SmallHey all, just returned from Hawaii to discover my interview with Mike Williams of Deadpoint Magazine, or DPM. This issue covers some great climbers (Ashima and Jimmy Webb), as well as four glorious double spreads of my photos from the ROCK series.

If you want a great inside look at how those images were made and don’t mind me rambling about artistic vision, then take a look inside! I talk about technical ability vs vision, production, and compositing adventure images. Oh, and you must excuse the Papyrus font– like adventure, sometimes it just happens.

Interview with Deadpoint Magazine

Gear and Photo Prep: Deep in the Mountains in Winter

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Hey friends, it’s been a intense few days! My assistant Dalton and I were up at 8500 ft in the Enchantment Lakes shooting a new campaign about wilderness survival. More on that later, but I thought I’d share with you some of the gear preparations it takes to go up and shoot at elevation in the mountains in the winter. Shooting up there can be really challenging but the landscapes are truly mind-blowing and the mountain goats unbelievably persistent. Makes me miss my days running survival courses in Oregon. So what did we pack and how the hell did we get our packs down to 35lbs each while carrying all our camera gear and delicious food?  (more…)

Personal work featured on Monica Suder’s column for World Photo Organisation

Photo consultant and former photo editor of such publications as Rolling Stone, Monica Suder, has started a new column for the World Photography Organisation. This month Monica wrote extensively about the necessity of personal work for jumpstarting a photo career and featured my work on the NATIVE series as well as my shot of Amanda Clark climbing at Smith Rock, OR. Check out the article!

Jose Amoedo, Archer

 

NATIVE: Portraits of modern Indigenous, Siberia to Oregon.

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To be native in the year 2012 is to be modern. As a whole, we are both modern and traditional, full of culture and spirit passed down from many generations, but seeking to live in this new world and embrace it.

I began the NATIVE project, taking portraits of modern indigenous people last spring, not knowing it would evolve into a huge undertaking. It’s taken me from the cold interiors of traditional houses in Alaska to the bright summery forests of Oregon. I’ve learned so much about what it means to be a modern traditionalist native myself, as well as more about all the diversity that surrounds native attitudes from the big city to the remote village.

There’s so much to say about this kind of portraiture, steeped in sepia tones and shot with artificial light, but I’ll let you, the viewer, have the fun of diving in yourself. Thanks for letting me share.

Many thanks to the NW Portland Indian Health Board, the Alaska Native Heritage Center, and Daybreak Star Cultural Center for their help in making these portraits.