When I hear Patagonia, I usually think of a really warm, fuzzy sweater that I pull over my head in the winter. Not a herd of Argentine Merino sheep grazing the Patagonia Region of South America from which the brand originates. After speaking with Seattle-based adventure photographer Nick Hall, I have a different perspective.
Nick was recently contacted by Nature Conservancy Magazine about a project that focused on a partnership between The Nature Conservancy, Patagonia and an Argentine science organization all working together to create sustainable merino wool from farmer to the insulated outerwear we see in the stores.
Nick has a long standing relationship with the Photo Editor at Nature Conservancy magazine, and says that shoots for TNC always expand his portfolio. He shoots editorial as well as commercial, and TNC presents opportunities for Nick to keep his editorial portfolio fresh and exciting. Because the magazine is both a journalistic publication and the publication of a large environmental organization, there is a balance that must be hit between journalistic integrity and corporate communications which NCM does beautifully.
“The Patagonia project was epic in every way from the massive landscape down there to the amount of incredible meat we ate at least once a day if not twice. When I do these assignments I learn so much. I love the opportunity I get with NCM to learn about global environment issues and the incredible conservation work they do with local people.”
The shoot days were pre-dawn to post-dusk in the Argentinian summer. With this brought the wind, which gusted a minimum of 30km/hour constantly and proved a challenge as the crew was creating portraits with location lighting. Fortunately, one of Nick’s assistants is an avid sailor and was able to rig some lines to hold the gear in position.
Another challenge that Nick faced on the project was photographing the Merino sheep, as he quickly found that they are vastly different from the docile and tolerant English sheep he’s used to. However, the crew received a bit of help from some other photogenic animals:
“The Argentine Merino sheep are very difficult to get close to when they are out on the grasslands. We tried all kinds of techniques to get close to them and all failed miserably. Fortunately, and on two separate occasions a herd of horses came to our rescue and posed beautifully in the wind. We also had some successful encounters with Guanaco. And finally, one of the ranches we worked on had a huge penguin colony for us to shoot. Penguins are awesome and very photogenic.”
Nick’s photo editor is thrilled with the images, and there has been such a positive online response that Nick is launching a shop on his website where prints will be available for purchase.
One of Nick’s personal challenges before landing in Argentina? To eat at least one steak every day and post it on Instagram. He succeeded, but not before becoming “very familiar with the limits of his carnivore-ness.”