Tom Robertson spent a month biking, fishing, and taking lots of photos as he traveled across the the Southern tip of South America. The photo series, as well as an article about the trip written by Tom himself, was then published in Adventure Cyclist magazine. Here’s Tom with the behind-the-scenes details of this amazing adventure.
First off, can you tell me about this project and how you got involved with it?
I’m friends with a young couple from Missoula, Montana (where I live) who are bike guides for Trek Travel. They spend the majority of the year in Europe leading high-end bicycle tours. During their off-season, they go on their own adventures. They told me that they were headed down to Southern Patagonia for a couple of months to ride from Bariloche, Argentina to Ushuaia, which is the southern tip of South America. They would have full fly fishing gear (waders included) so they could fish along the way. I pitched a story of the bike tour to Adventure Cyclist magazine and they quickly accepted. It was only then that I invited myself to tag along on the trip.
Did you plan much for the trip in terms of what, how, and when you’d be photographing?
As far as planning, I’ve done a number of trips like this, combining a bicycle tour with shooting. The biggest difference in this trip was that I was able to be with them for an entire month, capturing everything from riding to camping to interacting with locals and other travelers we crossed paths with. My one big goal was to constantly be shooting—even during those times when I was tired or hungry.
What were some challenges you faced with this project?
The biggest challenge for a lot of these longer trips by bike is what gear to take, given the space restraints and the fact that I would have to be pedaling with the weight up hills and into headwinds. For this trip I was determined to take a Mamiya 7 film camera along with a digital dslr kit. This took up one of the four bags I was carrying on my bike. The film also weighs a bit as well. But I was determined to take the film camera, and am so glad I did. Looking back on the trip, those film images are my most treasured shots.
What was your favorite part of the trip?
I’ve bike toured for 20+ years. From leading cross country bike tours in the U.S., to weekend trips with friends, and everything in between. These days my favorite parts of a trip are the ones where I’m shooting and everything comes together to make signature images from the trip. Most times it might happen once during a trip, and sometimes it never quite happens. But for this trip, traveling with a young, good looking couple in a stunningly beautiful location, it happened a handful of times. It was those times when I was shooting, and knowing I was getting great shots, that were the highlights of my adventure.
What has the reaction to these images been so far?
I’ve had such great response from both the Adventure Cyclist editorial staff and their readers. I’ve also had a positive reaction from a handful of commercial clients as well. But much like voting polls, social media can give instant feedback. And these images were some of my most viewed ever.
To view more of Tom’s work, visit tomrobertson.com.