Anchorage, Alaska-based duo Matt & Agnes Hage are known for their active outdoor lifestyle photography—and for loving the adventurous life that comes with it. Below, they discuss their recent dream assignment from Black Diamond Equipment. Enjoy!
Last year, the creative team at Black Diamond asked us to outline a handful of what we consider the most spectacular mountain treks in the Western states. At the top of that list was The Sierra High Route; a 200-mile high traverse from Kings Canyon National Park to Yosemite National Park in California. Mapped together decades ago by prolific mountaineer Steve Roper, the route mostly avoids maintained trails and stays above 10,000 feet. It’s renowned as one rugged trek, which makes it perfect for the Black Diamond brand. After discussing the route with them, we got the thumbs up for a truly dream catalog and advertising shoot.
We first began shooting backpacking and trekking work for BD in 2009. After years of working together, they trusts us with most of the set up for these productions. Even so, this had to be one of the most authentic commercial jobs we’ve ever shot. The creative brief was a single paragraph followed by a five-point ‘must get’ shot list. The last item on the list simply read “you guys know what to do.” Our crew was made up of four super-avid adventure friends here in Alaska. Preparations began in earnest a week out when we started putting together supplies for six people and boxes of the BD gear started showing up. For brand continuity, everyone was outfitted with new backpacking and camping equipment from BD. Our friends were pretty stoked about that.
In September, we were all together for the mandatory pool-side preproduction meeting at the Fresno La Quinta Inn. The ensuing two-weeks were absolutely amazing, both in the country we were traveling through, and the team we were traveling with. Everyone was having the time of their life and it really showed in the work. We gave minimal direction to the crew and just focused on shooting the trip as it played out. For the most part, it was as if a director said, “two-week trek across the Sierra with a group of friends: go!”
One of the challenges on this project was getting the work in and our miles in each day. Our packs contained a finite supply of food and fuel, so adding in extra days was not an option. Since it was September, sunset happened at about six o’clock with full on dark an hour later. Keeping the course on The Sierra High Route is challenging enough during the day. It would be very difficult to not get lost by headlamp. We dealt with this by rising early, somewhere between four and five each morning, and going right until sunset. Everyone was pretty much running on six hours sleep per night for two weeks. That’s a damn fine crew.
Black Diamond was impressed with the final work we delivered. It will be used in online and print advertising throughout the year. A full slide show of the project is also scheduled for their site this summer.