365 Days of 2017

Originally posted on January 2, 2018

I’ve completed another ‘photo a day’ for 2017.  It’s always interesting to flip through the days, touching on visual reminders of the people I’ve spent time with and the places I’ve visited over the year. It’s been a year of growth and a lot of new experiences, like driving from Boulder to Aspen in a blizzard, buying a van, and witnessing my best friend give birth.

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The year started out in New Hampshire where I lived with my buddy Jimmy. We posted up in my parent’s house and worked on his Nat Geo project, which focused on the effect of climate change on the ice climbing community in the Mt. Washington Valley. I took a few photos for them, but mostly I just binge-watched Netflix and learned how to use the espresso machine.

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Jimmy demonstrating excellent form during a 'Yankee Ice' outing.

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Checking out the ice on Repentance WI5 M4-5

I moved back into the Subaru at the end of February. One of my favorite events in the spring was the Women’s Climbing Festival in Bishop, CA. I didn’t know anyone when I arrived but left with some great new friendships and a new perspective.

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Mason on a not-so-casual warm up at the Cliffs of Insanity.

As spring went on, I settled in for a good month in the Creek climbing and taking photos. Toward the end of March, I got a call from Jimmy in NH who asked if I wanted a job photographing this team of women veterans who were going into the Alaska mountain range. Next thing I knew, I was flying across the Ruth Glacier with Denali in sight. I spent the next week photographing six women as they trained to hopefully be the first all-women veterans team to summit Denali in 2018.

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Flying into Glacier One off the Ruth Glacier. 

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Jake, Rob, and I formed the media crew up in Alaska.

Throughout the spring, I also had been doing a handful of work with Louder than Eleven. In May, we teamed up to create a video series for Buff Headwear featuring Anton Krupicka and Joe Grant. We did a big road trip, got a ton of beautiful footage, and had a pretty good time.

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Getting ready for the sun to pop before hitting the White Rim.

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Tony and Joe enjoying an afternoon trot across the dunes. 

Then I bought a van. I traded in my 2008 Subaru Forester with 60,000 miles for a 2008 Dodge Sprinter with 172,000 miles. The next month was a total blur and the build out became my full-time job.

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Half way done.

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Nearly done.

I went to Chamonix in June and ran a bunch and shot a bunch. Around that time, my brother called me up. He was headed to Squamish, British Columbia to finally take down Cobra Crack and asked if I wanted to make a film. We enlisted our friend Drew Smith to join the team and together we spent three weeks filming and climbing around Squamish, and two months later released Cracking Cobra.

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Mason and Drew during some downtime in Squamish.

Another highlight of my year was hiking into the Wind River Range with my friend Sara to spend a week climbing around the Cirque of the Towers.  Neither of us had ever gone on an extended climbing trip in the backcountry and we wanted to see what we were capable of. It was a beautiful week filled with really spectacular climbing and I hope to go back next year for more. 

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Sara basks in the fleeting light during the full solar eclipse.

And finally, I returned to Yosemite and reunited with a large group of friends. Everyone seemed to be in the valley this fall, which was good because we all ended up needing each other. It was a really good season until it wasn’t, and it’s been a long three months after losing Hayden, Caleb, and Niels. Honestly, the fall was just a huge tragedy, one right after the other, and it’s been hard to witness my friends, family, and community go through such a hell storm. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned from death, it’s that we’ll never be prepared for it to happen, but we can be prepared to help others heal in the aftermath. 

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Caleb dances up Mr. Natural, 5.10c.

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Meadow hang with the crew.

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Portraits of my climbing partners in Yosemite.

At the start of the year, I felt pretty anxious about this new freelance forward lifestyle. I was taking on a lot of risk financially and worried a lot about how I was going to make it sustainable. I learned that one of the most important components of this job is being flexible. I used to stress about open weeks with no gigs, but now I just use that time to go somewhere new. I’ve learned that the more I move around and the more people I meet, the more I come across different work opportunities.

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The in-between moments catching up with friends. Boulder, CO.

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Ian and Emma model their clothing for Hawaii. Somerville, MA.

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Auds & Pips. South Conway, NH.

I also believe there’s something to be said about having a strong personal collection of work. There are many weeks where I have no gigs or assignments, but the photo a day project always keeps me hustling. A handful of the photos I sold this year were shot because I had to take my photo of the day. I think the photos paint a pretty good self-portrait, too, and hopefully those who stumble across this ongoing project learn a little bit more about who I am as a photographer. I am the sum of my experiences, most of which have now been documented over the past two years.

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The last night of 2017.