For some, it may sound like a luxury to find time to work on a personal project. For photographers however, it is generally considered a necessity to constantly be shooting personal work in order to keep training one’s eye, expand one’s portfolio and get noticed by editors, curators and buyers.
These three photographers (all Brick & Wonder members) have all devoted time and resources to their personal work. It being winter, we wanted to showcase a selection of their coldest self-assigned projects! We hope their work will inspire you to consider your own personal development and exploration as we head into a new year! And of course, all of these images can be purchased as prints via the links to cool your walls.
I wanted to make a series of images that juxtaposed Antarctica’s seemingly inaccessible landscape with these new groups of citizen-adventurers.
A century following Sir Ernest Shackleton's expedition, the Antarctic peninsula looks very much the same. The only difference is that, where Shackleton and his men undertook a desperate race against death, now thousands of people come every year for the “experience of a lifetime”.
Undeterred by the danger and cold, these modern Antarctic “explorers" are eager to retrace the crew’s footsteps and experience the raw beauty and test of human spirit found here, at the edge of the world. Ashok Sinha, an architectural photographer with an exceptional portfolio of international projects, did just that.
“I wanted to make a series of images that juxtaposed Antarctica’s seemingly inaccessible landscape with these new groups of citizen-adventurers, in an attempt to provide a sense of scale as well as inspire meditation on humanity's presence within the fragile Antarctic environment that is increasingly threatened by climate change.”
“Contrary to expectation, it was a balmy 30F during my visit, which was during the Antarctic's spring. That said, whenever the katabatic winds whipped up, the temperature would suddenly drop by 20 or 30 degrees or more. A funny anecdote - it was a chilly 15F in New York the day I came back!”
These Antarctic images were photographed in December of 2013. Hayward, -- best known for his portrait work -- through an old friend, managed to secure passage on a ship leaving from Ushuaia, Argentina and crossing the infamous Drake Passage to the Antarctic archipelago.
The sheer beauty and expanse of the landscape had a profound effect on me...
"The opportunity had been presented to me many times and each time I found reasons to say no, until one day I said yes. The whole experience is almost indescribable and I found myself at times being almost overwhelmed. The 5 days spent crossing the Drake Passage there and back was a trip in itself. The sheer beauty and expanse of the landscape had a profound effect on me and has without a doubt helped shape my views on the environment and our relationship with the planet.”
Rowat is a very busy travel and interiors photographer who spends a good deal of his time in luxury establishments and beautiful climates. For this personal project shooting “artisanal” gold miners in Mongolia, he was not.
“I flew from New York to Ulaanbaatar—it took about a day—and from Ulaanbaatar, my friends and I then drove for three days to a small town in the northern reaches of Mongolia. Keep in mind this is in February, dead of winter, Mongolia. It’s a part of the country where the Tsaatan people live. Tsaatan translates to “reindeer people.” These are the people who ride reindeer, who eat reindeer meat, use reindeer skin. They’ve been doing this for millennia."
They called it the dzud—one of the worst winters in fifty years.
Despite the cold, they did not sleep in a tent. “Every other night, we’re outside, and one of the nights, it hits minus 53 Celsius, or minus 56. Very, very, very, very cold. Even for a Canadian. We would put reindeer skins on the ground, and then on top of that, I put a down-filled air mattress, and then a sleeping bag that was rated to minus 40. I was wearing seven layers, and an Antarctic parka on top of everything, and slept with my water bottle inside of all of this, next to my body. One morning when I woke up, it was frozen solid. They called it the dzud—one of the worst winters in fifty years.”
“You had to be very careful photographing with film, which I was. Because of the extreme cold, you had two issues. One, film can snap, so you have to wind it very, very slowly, so you don’t snap the rolls. And I did snap some rolls. The second issue is that extreme cold is also extremely dry: no humidity. You can generate static electricity as you’re winding your film, which means you get sparks, basically, on the film itself.”
(Quotes via OffAssignment)