Thursday, December 3, 2009

A Cold Day In Boulder...

...and in the outdoor media industry.

It was 11 degrees this morning, and the Flatirons were covered in snow and looking good. It my typical sloth like fashion, I gathered some camera gear, then went to Starbucks and sat there for a while sipping on my pumpkin spice latte and warming up, then headed to a spot with a good view to try and take a panoramic of it all. I've heard that other more successful photographers go take the picture first, then go warm up at Starbucks afterwards. I don't really know much about that, but it sounds like it's worth a try since by the time I got to my spot, the mountains were buried in clouds and the light was completely flat. I took the shots anyways. It looked much better about an hour earlier, but this isn't so bad either. I think there's a lesson here. Probably something about drinking your coffee faster.

When I got home, I uploaded the 12 images I took, and stitched them together in Photoshop to make the panorama. While I was at it, I dug through my hard drive to try and find some other images that felt like a cold day, and figured I would make a blog post out of it all. While I was working, I got an email from Genny entitled 'This is the industry in the toilet'. Within the email were two links to Rob Haggart's blog A Photo Editor, and Steve Casimiro's blog The Adventure Life, both talking about how the magazine National Geographic Adventure has officially closed down it's operation today. The economy and the changing media world got the better of this great magazine, and it goes to show that moving forward with the current industry situation, no one is untouchable.

Adventure was a great magazine. I loved reading it, and as an adventure photographer who is getting started, I was really excited with the prospect of working with them in the future. The staff there did a great job, and I've heard nothing but good about them from others I know that have done work with them. It is not only a huge bummer to see more evidence of the troubled state that the outdoor industry and media is in, but it's also a bummer to know I'll never have the pleasure of working with Adventure. I hope to someday cross paths with the NGA staff in whatever the future becomes for them and wish them the best as they move forwards. I also hope that even though the magazine is gone the word 'adventure' will continue to define their lives.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Joshua Tree Volume Deuce

So as promised, here is a second installment of images from my recent trip to J-tree. During the Redefining Balance Retreat, I was lucky enough to be surrounded by lots of talented and beautiful yogis. These are some of my favorite images from the actual retreat. The final installment of images, which will be from the dedicated photoshoot with Team Yogaslackers is being kept in a ziploc bag to stay fresh for the launch of my soon coming new website.

Friday, November 27, 2009

From one extreme to the other.

So, if you read the previous post, you know that I've been in Joshua Tree National Park for the last week spending time hanging out and shooting with Team YogaSlackers, and attending a yoga retreat that they were co-leading with another yoga instructor from San Diego, Melissa Karolides. It was a great six days of hanging out in the hot desert, lots of sun, yoga, climbing, shooting, moving constantly and eating some really good vegetarian camp cuisine. So as you can imagine, it was quite the swing of the pendulum to leave Joshua Tree late Thanksgiving morning after being up with the sun and doing 4 hours of shooting the team, only to sit in a car for a while, then sit on a plane for a while, then sit in another car for a while, then recklessly stuff my face with turkey. I've got about 1500 images to work through, but I thought I'd share a few quickies now and a little time-lapse video I made of a morning yoga session. It was awesome to see Jason and Chelsey again, and it was great getting to know Sam and Paul for the first time. Shooting and hanging out with them was a blast, and I can't wait to start digging in to the images.

Morning Practice from Ben Fullerton on Vimeo.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Back to the desert!

by Ben
So, I'm very pleased to be heading back to the California desert again for a week in Joshua Tree National Park. This all came about pretty quickly in the last week and it's been crazy pulling the plans and logistics together to make it happen. The reason for my trip will be to work with the very cool and talented and beautiful YogaSlacker team again. You may or may not remember them from a previous blog post of them doing their thing in the beautiful mountains near Salt Lake City. Since then, we've been trying to find time to work together again, but we all travel so much that we seemed to be playing a game of zip code tag. After a few close calls of almost being in the same place at the same time, I decided it was time to get a little more intentional about making it happen. I found out they would be in Joshua Tree for a week, and I booked a flight. Case closed.

We will have a few days to work together without an agenda, and I will also be shooting and attending a yoga and climbing retreat that they are helping lead. I'm very excited about all of this and will be posting some fun new images and stories when I get back. Stay tuned, people!

By the way, at the top is a shot from the last trip to J-tree, and below is the pile of stuff that I'm figuring out how to bring with me on a plane. I've got everything I need for hiking, climbing, yoga, camping, and everything I need for photography of the aforementioned activities. Can you say 'overweight baggage fee'? I can.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


by Ben

As I sit here editing images from a great weekend of shooting in the Gunks, I can't help but to unpack my mind a little bit-mainly because it's easier than unpacking my truck, which will have to wait. The way this weekend came to be sent my thoughts into a whirlwind of trying to understand where I am and how I got here. A year and a half ago I didn't own a camera, didn't know what an f/stop was, and was wrestling with the growing reality that I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life.

You see, I spent this last weekend working with Nicky Dyal, who is a very strong and talented climber who is also very accustomed to being in front of a camera. Along with her was her longtime friend Joel, who is also a great climber and has been recently getting into photography, and her father who is a small, unassuming, fantastically old-school climber. Nicky has been in many of the major climbing magazines many times, and the opportunity to work with her was absolutely great. So how did it happen? That's what I'm trying to figure out.

I guess it all started about 6 months ago on Twitter. I became acquainted with a gal named Sara Lingefelter, better known as @theclimbergirl. Sara is very connected to the climbing community on twitter, a prolific blogger, and just seems to know everyone. A month later, when she made a trip to CO and set up a climbers' gathering, I went along to meet new people. She was super cool and we stayed in touch via Twitter, and also ran into each other again at the Outdoor Retailer show in SLC. A few weeks ago when I mentioned to her that I was looking for people to shoot in the Gunks while I was home in the East, and she told me that she would be happy to send out a message to all her climbing contacts. A girl named Katie, or @AdventureGrrl on twitter, replied to her, and let her know that I should get in contact with Jannette Pazer, aka @cliffmama, since she is very active in the Gunks community. When I did, she did the same as Sara and hit up all her local contacts, letting them know that I wanted to shoot two routes: The Dangler and Shockley's Ceiling. Needless to say, I was pretty excited when she emailed me to let me know that a friend of hers, Nicky Dyal, was interested in working with me. It just so happens that she was home visiting family and was going to be in the Gunks that weekend anyways, before returning to her home in CA. The whole sequence of events left my mind pretty blown. It was amazing timing, and not much of it had to do with anything I did.

For the last year, I've been on the crazy adventure that I suppose should be expected when you get up off the couch, decide you're going to be a professional photographer, and then chase after it with everything you've got... which at the beginning wasn't much. Only in the last few months has it started to feel like I'm getting somewhere. But the absurd way in which this weekend's shoot came together has caused me to reflect on all the other good fortune that has graced my life in the last 18 months. Sure, I've worked hard, but so many things that exist outside of myself have played huge parts in moving me along my path. So much love and support from friends and family, so many amazing chances and opportunities that could only be gifts from God, and most importantly, Genny. She has been the single biggest contributor to my growth as a photographer, and the biggest gift from God. Not only does she win all the bread, so that I can devote all my time to building a career as a photographer; but she also comes home from looking at photos all day, and is still willing to go over things with me and give her very excellent, and sometimes brutally honest, critique. If I have any advice for someone wishing to improve at photography, or anything else for that matter, it is to find the most qualified source of critique that you can, and subject yourself to it regularly.

So I don't know where I am, and I'm still unsure of how I got here, but I know is that I'm headed someplace good. During the two days I spent with Nicky and Joel, we had an amazing amount of deep and meaningful conversations. Nicky had talked about feeling like she has a grip on life at the moment, and I remarked that I felt like I was headed that way. Both of them were tremendously warm and open people who by prompting quality conversations made me realize how easy it is to go through our daily interactions on auto-pilot or safe mode, and never let things get real. It's so natural to exist solely on small talk and the requisite word-vomit of 'getting to know each other.' Meaningful conversations have to be pursued. They require a little digging. Sometimes they're messy, and they're far from safe. But I got to know two people, who they actually are, not just about them.

Working with Nicky was just plain awesome. She is fun to work with and professional, and has a strong commitment to doing everything she can to help the images look their best. Joel was an awesome support player, helping out with things on my end, belaying, taking photos of me working with Nicky, helping create an awesome working environment and even jumping in front of the camera for a quick lead of Ken's Crack. Because of those two short days, I have two new friends, some great new photos, and a new intention to spend more time getting real and less time on auto-pilot. Enjoy the photos!

Photo of Nicky and I by Joel Dashnaw

Friday, October 9, 2009

Two from Rumney

by Ben

Monday and Tuesday I went up to climb in Rumney, NH with my friends Matt and Eli. You may remember these two as the people I lived in a tent with for 29 days in Joshua Tree. Six months later, I think we were all ready to be anywhere near each other again. It was great to be all climbing together again and it was a fun two days. I did a fair bit of climbing and shooting, some gear testing, and a whole bunch of getting rained on. Contrary to anything I said in the post below, nothing about climbing photography is enhanced be the presence of rain, but the weather gave us enough of a break to get in a full day on Tuesday. WE also ran in to this guy named Erik who was without a partner. We welcomed him to climb with us and I was pleased to find out that he is from Colorado as well. I'll be making sure to look him up when I get back.
Speaking of Joshua Tree, in the last few days I've finally had some time to be in the 'office' and get some things done. Among those things that got done, is my trip that I did for Backpacker in J-Tree. Make sure to checkout the trip info, maps, GPS track and photos from my time on the California Riding and Hiking Trail here.

Tomorrow morning I'm headed to NY from 3 days of scouting, climbing and shooting in the Gunks. I'm going to be getting together with a few great climbers and shooting them on some stellar routes. I'm pretty excited to see what kind of images I come away with. Be sure to check back in and find out.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Why I love Fall, and Pentax.

by Ben

After 14 months of living in Colorado, all the while proclaiming it's superiority from the top of every big mountain I climb, I'm beginning to remember the beauty of the Northeast. Most people would agree that no time is more beautiful than the fall. Last week, Genny and I were having a nice, relaxing rainy day, hanging out at her parents' house, when the urge struck to go take pictures. Genny's latest entry for her photo blog at is about how to get good images on cloudy days, so we decided to take it one step further and see what we could get on a downright rainy day.

Rainy days definitely seem to be the most avoided by photographers. I would wager that more photographers go out to shoot at night, than go out in the rain. There's something to be said about not taking expensive electronics out into the rain, but as an outdoor/adventure photographer, I decided that that being afraid of the elements is not acceptable.

Enter Pentax.

When Genny and I were researching what camera system to buy into, one of the factors that made us choose Pentax was their extreme level of weatherproofing. We've always known it was there, and appreciated it's existence, but it had never really been put to the test, beside a few

minutes in the occasional afternoon shower. This rainy afternoon was the perfect time to see if these cameras can take as much as they say; and the answer would either be 'yes' or 'I need a new camera.'

The photo above shows how wet my camera was after 2 minutes, and both cameras continued getting poured on for another 2 hours. It was fun spending time out when most people would pack it up, and two things were learned from this rainy day out:

1. I don't need a new camera. Still want one though... (I promise I wasn't trying to ruin my camera so that I had to get a newer one.)

2. Shooting in the rain provides a great opportunity to capture the world around you in a unique way that can make ordinary scenes pop to life.

Monday, September 28, 2009

The long road home.

by Ben

Genny and I are now finally in Connecticut to enjoy the presence of family and friends, but it was a long time getting here. While the trip really only took 1 week and 2 days to get home, it sure felt like 9 weeks and 5 days (see the first quote on this page). The reason is that this summer has been exceptionally busy for both of us. Genny had quite a bit extra to do at the office. And for me, the photography business has been picking up nicely in the last few months. While being a good thing, this has left me quite occupied with things like figuring out how the heck to run a photography business. We've been planning this trip home for months, and it began to seem as if the longest leg of the road home was just making it through the summer. After that, we were only 9 days away.

As if the glittering prize of going home wasn't enough to make the wait seem long, we decided to take a side trip to Grand Teton National Park and planned to climb the Grand Teton itself. Now, the accomplished students of Geography out there will know that Northwest Wyoming is not remotely close to on the way to Connecticut from Colorado. In fact, it's 12 hours out of the way. When I was younger, the threat of driving even 3 hours was enough to make me tell who took the cookies from the cookie jar. But ever since picking up a camera, moving west, marrying a sporty gal like Genny and becoming an adventure photographer, I've logged over 250 hours of road trip time. So what difference does it make to tack 12 extra hours onto a 32 hour trip?

Our original plan was to climb the Grand via the Owen-Spalding Route. We didn't have much time, so we left Thursday night and drove through the night. Arriving in Jackson, WY around 5am, and knowing we had to be at the Ranger station at 8am, we ended up napping in sleeping bags on the side of a road. We were delighted when we woke up to the sunrise illuminating a beautiful view of the Teton range. We were also a bit surprised to see that we were in the close proximity of quite a few photographers. They weren't taking our pictures, at least, not while we were awake. But you see, there's this barn, and everyone loves to take pictures of it, and we were apparently only a few hundred feet away from it. The edge of the road was now like the sideline of a Superbowl. Nothing turns me off more than a gaggle of photographers, all with their cameras and tripods, lined up right next to each other, all taking the same shot. It reminds me of the the beginning of Say Anything, when every dad has out his camcorder at the graduation. Count me out.

So we headed off to the Ranger Station to get our permit. Come again? The Owen-Spalding route is covered in ice and is out for the season? Well, that changes things. This is one of those times where you begin the understand the merits of coming up with a Plan B before you need it. We looked into some other routes and weighed our options, but all the other options on the Grand are longer and/or harder, and by the time we we narrowed down the options, we came to the conclusion that there wasn't actually enough time to do any of them. Nuts. On to Plan C.

So we spent the day planning, walked around town, ate some good food and got a few items, like a map. We decided to have a go at the Middle Teton, which has a nice 3rd class route up the backside of the mountain. Unfortunately, with the loss of the primary objective comes the requisite loss of motivation. So maybe we got a bit of a late start. But I did manage to make the nice shot of Mt. Teewinot and Jenny Lake you see at the top of this post, so I guess it was the right time to get up.

The hike was lots of fun, even though the weather came in and kept us from summitting (or was it the late start?). Lots of elevation gain, lots of rocky terrain, and tons of mind-blowing scenery. I've had a great deal of failure this season in the mountains and with climbing, so Ive adapted a new philosophy that everything is just training for something else. That way when you fail, you can still say, "Hey, it was great training." Well, the way my legs were burning for the few days following, it must have been some excellent training. Or maybe that was because after hiking, we jumped in our truck for 4 consecutive 10 hour days of driving. Yeah, that's what it was.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Amanda and Matt

Genny and I had the great pleasure last weekend of not only traveling home, but both being involved in the wedding of a long time friend Amanda and her now husband, Matt. Genny has been close friends for many years, in fact longer than she has been with me, and I've known Amanda for quite a bit as well. Genny and I got to know Matt when we were shooting their engagement photos over Christmas of last year and it was immediately evident what a great match they were.

Genny was a bridesmaid and I was originally going to be the photographer for them. But then unexpectedly, an awesome thing happened, they won a contest to have their entire wedding provided and paid for by a group of local wedding industry businesses. Everything was delicious/beautiful and even though I was slightly sad to be sidelined, I couldn't think of two people who deserve this great honor more. Among these generous professionals was local wedding photographer Jamie Collins, and after speaking with her, she graciously said that it would great to have a second shooter along; so I was back in business. Jaime is a very talented and well established photographer and I had a great time working along side her.

It was a great day and I was glad to be a part of the beginning of Amanda and Matt's life together. Many thanks to Jessica for making the whole day come together like it did. Here are a few more of my favorites.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Congratulations Liz and Abel!

by Genny

I met Liz when we were both in Australia for a semester. Now Ben and I live just a few miles from where she grew up, but she lives in Japan and teaches English. She and Abel fell in love this year and came back to the US for their wedding. They were married Saturday morning at the Sunrise Amphitheater on Flagstaff Mountain. Their whole wedding day was a demonstration of all sorts of love... brothers and sisters, parents, grandparents, nieces and nephews, cousins and friends... all coming together to celebrate the new couple. It was beautiful to witness.

Liz and Abel, we had a great time photographing your wedding. Here's a few favorites. We'll be be in touch with more soon. Love you both!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Don't try this at home.

Who am I kidding, Genny and I tried it ourselves as soon as we got home. It was 100% unsuccessful. Let's face it, I have enough trouble balancing myself on my own two feet, so I can pretty much forget about balancing someone else on them.

This past week, I spent my time in Salt Lake City trying to promote myself as a photographer at the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market. I was officially there on a Backpacker Magazine press pass, and there for I took some pictures, checked out some gear, and did a little blogging for them, here and here.

While there, I ran into a few members of the YogaSlacker team, who I had met at the Teva Mountain Games. They are a talented group of people who have combined yoga, slacklining, acrobatics and a general spirit of adventure to create something very cool, and very difficult.

After running into them a few times throughout the show, I decided to ask two of the team members, Jason Magness and Chelsey Gribbon, if they would be interested in trying to find time for a photo shoot before we all left town. They had originally planed on leaving town Friday after the show, which meant it would be a no go, but then plans changed, they stay the weekend and agreed to head out saturday for a day of shooting. Score!

Since I was already in Salt Lake, Genny took the opportunity to drive in with a friend. That way we could hang out together for the weekend. Last year on our honeymoon, Genny and I had swung through SLC on our way home. While we were there, we had hiked and climbed at the top of Little Cottonwood Canyon at a spot called Cecret Lake, which phenomenally gorgeous. We figured why not go somewhere we already know is beautiful and do the shoot there.

I ran the plan by Jason and Chelsey and we decided a morning of shooting in Little Cottonwood, followed by an afternoon of climbing together sounded perfect. It was great to have Genny on the shoot with me. This was one of our first major shoots working together as a team and I think it went amazingly well. Here are some of the shots from the day, and the rest are here. Enjoy!