Adventure is nothing new for Alberta and France-based commercial adventure photographer Alex Buisse. Climbing is in Alex’s blood, and he’s most comfortable when surrounded by mountains.
His knack for adventure recently took him to Greenland, where his team climbed, and named three virgin mountains. For Alex, the expedition was an opportunity to create some meaningful personal work:
I find [personal work] very important, both for my ‘photographer soul’ and to be able to experiment with new styles and new techniques. For instance, following the advice of some photo editors I really trust, I have been making a conscious effort to focus on all the emotions and all the in-between moments that end up making up a huge part of the experience. This trip to Greenland, just as all the spec work I do back at home, was the perfect opportunity to work on this, without the constraints of a pre-defined client brief.
The trip came about after Alex saw an email from the Alpine Club about an expedition that was being organized to explore Greenland’s mysterious Eastern Coast. Alex paired up with fellow photographer and friend, Tony Hoare, who jumped at the chance to explore the mountains.
Even though Alex is an experienced mountain adventure photographer, the climate and the remoteness of the climb made it a difficult project.
We knew rescue wouldn’t be quick to come if we got ourselves in trouble, so we had to make sure to keep everything on the safe side and not commit ourselves too far to any ascent. Then there were the conditions: we were hoping to get a lot of ski shots, but were sourly disappointed once we got there: it was two weeks of bullet-hard ice or terrible crust, hardly the stuff of dreams!
The harsh conditions put his skills to the test:
The weather provided us with its own challenges: too much blue sky for the first week, which made composition tricky when the foreground is also an infinite expense of white. And a big storm on the last four days, which was great for atmosphere but less so for spirits, when we realized we wouldn’t manage to climb our last objectives and had to spend long hours reading, sleeping and eating, stuck in our tents, listening to the winds blow. Such is expedition life.
In the end, Alex’s hard work and long days have definitely paid off. The project has been well received — the story has appeared in several alpine journals, and is being considered for a few specialized magazines. Alex even plans to use the images for a future print campaign to show editorial clients that he is always up for a challenge.
I learned a lot, both on how to photograph more intimate moments and also on how to address the many challenges of a remote expedition. The most important of which would probably be how not to lose one’s mind while tent bound with nothing to do for days on end!