To those who know me it is probably no surprise that I managed to make it to Alaska for a two week vacation… yes a true vacation for this photographer it is the first time in 9 years I did not pick up a contract while “on vacation” turning it into a working vacation. It is a rare occurrence for me to just relax, let the stress melt away and take photos for the sheer joy of taking them not because I am contracted, because there is a minimum expected and a desired quality level needed.
I could have taken truly horrific vacation snaps and it would have been completely fine. I could have not taken a camera with me at all and again it would have been ok. I couldn’t do that because who goes to somewhere as scenic as our most Northern frontier and doesn’t take a camera???? (Ok so I saw a ton of people just using cell phones which nothing wrong but the picture quality literally can not compare and for wild life its so hard to capture without a decent lens…. but I digress.)
As a photographer I have spent the last decade growing, trying to find my niches and preference for shooting, honestly that is true of most photographers. Wild life obviously not my niche, I have very little experience with non-domesticated animals in the wild, meaning I don’t even own the right lens for a lot of that style shooting. Serious hats off the wild life photographers you all are a different breed with more crazy, like the hiking trip to photograph the Coastal Brown Bears was exciting and nerve wrecking because I did not know A. how fast they can run— total thanks to the guide for that one before we arrived at the hike! B. That we would honestly get that close— I am such a distance photographer I have even pulled back from arena shooting at rodeos in the last few years, one to many close encounters made me opt for my safety.
And then there was the whale encounters! I do mean I saw whales— hump backs— like everywhere which was very awesome. I lived on a ship for four months and never saw a single whale so to travel by ship for two weeks and encounter them nearly everyday was amazing! However as me the photographer my one hope and goal was to see a complete breech— guess what I did! Also guess what— we were to far away for the attempted photograph to look like anything but a splash of water really, really, really far away.
Honestly the beauty in watching the whale breech was spectacular, yes I have no photograph of it but I have traveled the world and I have learned the best moments you really must be present for. Honestly some of the most amazing memories I have there is no photograph in existence to even prove it happened beyond the images that play out in my own head.
Also totally talked to the guides and rangers and so on and it isn’t as common as I initially thought to see a full breech like that. So it truly was a gift to see it at all in the two weeks I was there. Those amazing images you see that wild life photographers and research post— yeah they spend a ton of time in the environment studying these animals and that time results in what we see and assume happens way more often than it actually does. My guide at the time had been doing close whale encounters for 5 years and this was the first time they saw a full breech so I count myself truly lucky to just have witnessed it myself.
With such a busy Itinerary and being back at the whim of ship and dock time I couldn’t explore as freely but honestly again it was suppose to be a stress free vacation— which a cruise ship environment definitely provides although I will say I struggled hard with the commercial aspect after doing Semester at Sea as a Sophomore in college living on a ship and soaking in the academic aspect of it.
In the past waking for sunrises at sea and for when we sailed into port are truly beautiful memories and I have many gorgeous images of those times as well. I will say Alaska was different, one day and night kinda blended together I there was only one really lovely sunset and sunrise day the entire voyage. I am not sad though it was gloriously scenic, I have many beautiful photographs and saw mountains that I am not privy to in Ohio, Glaciers and so much wild life. I traveled by train up the Yukon and those are truly some of my favorite moments.
We had a luxury car, a guide, as well as food and beverage, electric and heat. I choose to ride outside on the viewing platform for the entirety of the trip— there was a speaker out there so I was blessed to hear the history as the guide spoke and bless her she must have seen the photographer in me she definitely gave me heads up to shots that had but a few seconds to capture. But it was just wowing, to be there taking in a country that was so much greater than I envisioned in my head, than what even my photos can give justice to.
The one thing I learned when I traveled abroad with Semester at Sea and to so many countries was to soak it all in, appreciate just being for a moment, we are truly— to quote a favorite professor of mine— lucky little bunnies. We live in a great country with natural wonder and beauty, our planet is truly amazing and I can only hope we start recognizing it more and take better care of it before these wonders are gone forever.
And finally to wrap up my Alaska post here….
I am truly a photographer, even on vacation I can not turn off and one of my favorite joys is photographing performers. The more challenging the better for me— keeps me way engaged.
The ship boost a plethora of talented staff, hard working folks that alway, always, always deserve respect and shout out— legit people these folks work so hard so if you’re ever on a cruise manners, politeness, respect, these people are away from there families months at a time and they work hard. Yes you are on vacation but be a good human always.
Anyways I totally photographed the live shows on the ship blind, facing the dances, placement, action and lighting challenges for the first time without any ideas what was happening. I have truly wowing shots. All because of the work of the talented team and I’d say the exercise definitely pushed me to be a better photographer.
I truly loved my time off from regular life, I loved trying new things photographically, and I loved the amount of excitement everything was received with when I got home. I was truly blessed to take this trip, to travel with my parents— no shame here, I love them and they have supported my crazy dream to make it as an artist, 100% the best people ever so it was nice adding and making memories together.
If you would like to see more images please feel free to check out the gallery!