This is another one of those topics that the outdoor photography community seems to ignore. But when it comes to true wilderness photography, being in top physical condition is essential.
I like to ski, run, bike and lift weights but I am not an elite athlete, not even close. I am not fast, super strong or talented in any sport. However, I have found that the better condition I am in, the more successful images I create when on expeditions. What? Yes, that is right, the better condition, the more successful images.
Below is a brief list of reasons why being in great shape helps your wilderness photography:
1. Less fatigue. Carrying heavy packs through rugged, off trail terrain can be really demanding work. But rarely are the great images taken during the hiking hours. Late in the evening, early in the morning, that’s when the magic happens. But if your too wasted after hiking 8-10 hours, setting up your tent and cooking dinner, then you’re missing the reasons you brought your high-end camera gear. After establishing camp I often spend another couple of hours scouting locations for evening shots and morning shots. It’s common for me to hike another couple of miles after setting up camp.
2. less injuries. It’s really easy to get hurt when carrying a heavy pack over uneven ground. Knees, ankles and your back are easy targets if they are weak and inflexible. Nobody I know likes the gym, but a basic weight lifting session, two or three times a week, can really help prevent injury and make you stronger in the mountains. You don’t need to become a yogi master, but some flexibility is also important.
3. Quality of the adventure. Suffering can be the name of the game when exploring remote areas. But how great of shape you are in directly determines the fun factor and the impression of the adventure. If you’re tired and hurt during the trip, you won’t have much fun and you won’t take many inspiring images.
4. long and happen life. I want to keep exploring and photographing wilderness for as long as possible. Beside having a long and prosperous career, being in great condition helps me enjoy life now. Whether its hiking with my son, biking with my friends or skiing with my wife, a high quality of life is what we all strive for.
Be warned though. The better shape you’re in, the less tolerance you will have for sitting in front of a computer, writing blogs and editing photographs! I am going skiing!