In the first version of this email I promised it would be a monthly communication. That was in February. Honestly it’s a case of the cobbler’s kids not having shoes. I’ve been busy creating and helping distribute content for clients and haven’t put enough time into my own. I can’t promise that you’ll see another email before next Easter but I’ll do my best to improve at sharing my own work.The life summary is pretty easy: Life is awesome and I do my best every day to overflow with gratitude for existence and my unfathomably lucky place in it. I simultaneously fight the ubiquitous struggle to find the “best” things to focus on to bring the appropriate amount of meaning to life. I think pretty much everybody feels some level of that. The struggle is real (but kinda not really).
I couldn’t be more excited and proud to share that I’ve been listed as one of Inkwell Media’s “Cultural Icons”. The list is stacked with my personal heroes and to be included is a little surreal. I’ve followed the work of almost everyone on the list and I’m lucky enough to call a few of them friends. These people and their creativity, passion, and skill are endlessly inspiring. Likewise for the staff of Inkwell.
I’m beyond honored and couldn’t be more excited for what adventures this might inspire next. Thank you to the amazing crew at Inkwell for including me (even if you have to scroll down the list a little to get to me).
I just returned from a TPW shoot for Spyder in Iceland. It was a whirlwind and really just a teaser. We circumnavigated the whole country in 7 days while shooting studio style light set ups of dozens of garments in as many locations. I can’t wait to go back with some time to burn and bikes or skis. I can’t share the Spyder images but here are a few of the places we hung out.
Morzine . Chamonix . Aosta
Espresso, Vino, Cheese, and steep rugged trails. And I was able to experience it with my beautiful partner to celebrate her 30th birthday. The rowdy unmaintained trails that date back hundreds of years (probably thousands in some cases) were the feature and the highlight of the trip but there was so much more that made it amazing. The history and the architecture alone is worthy of the journey. We’ve both spent time in Italy and France but it’s always interesting to experience the differences and similarities across a somewhat arbitrary geopolitical line. Obviously we also ate and drank way too much.
If anyone wants an epic bike adventure in the Alps, I highly recommend reaching out to the crew at Aosta Valley Freeride. We climbed over 11k’, 50+ miles, and descended well over 20,000’ in two days. It wouldn’t have been possible to find all the secret trails and connectors without them and the level of our guide Frabritzio’s riding, knowledge, and style was unmatched.
I could go on and on but you’ll just have to ask me. Here’s a few photos.
I’m proud to have directed the Aspen Snowmass’ 2017/18 campaign videos alongside the impressive Aspen staff (HUGE thanks to Lindsy Fortier who put her blood sweat and tears into this project while uber-preggers, to Christian Knapp, to our entire TPW team and all the other talented lensman: Matt Power, Jeremy Swanson, Jesse Hoffman).
The campaign is a rebuke to the awful set of values that have emerged in American public and political discourse. It’s based on the beautifully written and brave letter from Aspen CEO Mike Kaplan (read it here).
Karsh and Hagen did the original creative work and The Public Works is managing the design, engineering, fabrication, writing, directing, filming and editing. It’s been a challenging and fun process and I can’t wait to take it into its next steps.
[Per usual, we don’t show you finished images until the campaign drops. Here’s some behind-the-scenes love. Extra photo of Danny Brown by: Dag Larson]
This is probably my favorite piece that I’ve written/directed. I’m so proud that our team (The Public Works) gets to work with this iconic brand. It’s special to get to tell the Airstream story and share some of the history and deep seeded ideals that make Airstream what it is. Wally Byam, the founder, was a badass and it was fun to evoke his image to continue the legacy of his creed. The fact that I am able to do all of this with our amazing TPW team is hard to believe.
We also broke a bunch of social media records for Airstream. Which was cool.
You are what you watch. In a very real way, the books you read, podcasts you listen to, radio, tv, films, news you consume, all make up your identity. These are the things that create a frame a reference for everything you experience. A strange amalgamation of all these bits of stories and ideas becomes the content of your dreams and the source material for the incessant voice in your head during your waking hours. Your media diet literally becomes you.
Some people dismiss tv/film/books/etc. as escapism or entertainment, but I believe that it’s a much more important part of what makes us who we are as individuals and what binds us together as a culture and society.
I’m going to try to include a few pieces of exceptional content that I’ve recently come across in each of these emails:
Holy shit this is amazing work. I believe that one of the highest ambitions of art and literature is to take the viewer to a place or allow them to inhabit a perspective that otherwise wouldn’t be accessible to them. Shit Town takes you on a smart, emotional, insightful journey into the intensely interesting, strange, and beautiful mind of a reclusive clock restorer in “Shit Town” Alabama.
I’m only on the second chapter but I’m completely hooked. It has already been worth every moment I’ve spent listening to it. I feel more empathetic toward fellow Americans that have felt more distant than ever before in such a politically and culturally divided time.
[I’ve since finished the series and… god damn… if you haven’t, give it a listen. If you have. Let’s talk about it next time we hang out]
Sam Harris: Reality and the Imagination
Fantastic Interview from one of the most interesting voices in the podcast world (Sam Harris) with Yuval Harari, the author of Sapien and Homo Deus. Harari and Harris cover a huge range of subjects but for me one of the most interesting ideas was Harari’s conviction that humans have been able to colonize and lead the world as we have centrally because of the power of story. Though global or even national cooperation sounds like an oxymoron, humans have managed to create systems of government that are largely effective in organizing and providing for people, economic systems that function on a global level, and functional societies of all shapes and sizes. Harari argues that this is only possible because of the human predilection for story.
Extra credit Yuval gem. You’ll have to listen to get the whole story: Religion is the original VR game.
In this section I’ll do my best to reveal a location that I’ve found to be special. It could be a hidden Ramen Joint in Tokyo, a coffee shop in Shanghai or an off the grid bike trail in Colorado.
Natudeco Cafe / Kamakura, Japan : 35.3135207,139.5355196,73
Natudeco Cafe is a charming little breakfast spot in the beach town of Kamakura, Japan. For 3 mornings in a row Brittany and I enjoyed fresh perfect organic breakfast with friendly service. Highly recommend this spot if you ever find yourself nearby.
Instagram of the Month
Going to sleep with throaty loud elk bugles echoing in my head. Spent tonight following a herd bull and his cows through some steep nasty terrain listening to them communicate. I didn’t have the right position with the wind and dry noisy ground cover so I just watched and listened, moving as they moved across valley. Eventually the light dimmed and legal hunting time past but I still walked near the herd listening to the bull command his harem with chest shaking screams. This shot was from this morning as I topped out and the sun rose from behind Richmond Ridge. I got within 20 yards of the bull but the wind was swirling and he was just bedding down.
I’ve been in shooting range almost every time my boot have touched the ground but nothing has worked out perfectly yet. Still, so amazing spending time with these badass creatures! After making my way out without disturbing anyone I walked a dirt access road as the sky shifted from blue to black and the universe revealed itself one point of light at a time. Really cool feeling looking up as you walk in darkness and watching the parallax of silhouetted aspen trees moving against a vibrant night sky. .
Behind the Scenes Throw Back Thursday. Stories from behind the scenes of favorite photos.
Every month I’ll pick an favorite published photo or maybe one that hit the edit room floor and tell the story behind it.
El Zur, Guatemala. This was probably the most surreal place I’ve ever ridden a mountain bike. The lush green foliage had swallowed the landscape whole. This green blanket of jungle kudzu went on in every direction for thousands of yards before it disappeared into dense rainforest canopy. If you let your eyes wander or blur, it felt like you were enveloped in a verdant monoculture. But as soon as you sat still, focused in, you would see a vast diversity of insects, intertwining plants, and sounds from other creatures to stealthy to be detected.
Huge thanks to The Public Works, Spyder, Thule, Adventure Medical Kits, Fischer Skis, Inkwell Media, Clif, Yeti Bikes, Aspen Snowmass, Powder Magazine, and everyone that contributes including my trusty copy editor Sheila Rittenberg.