Andrew Maguire Goes to Great Heights for Eddie Bauer’s Breathtaking Photos
Photography takes you cool places, but even in such a unique profession, few photographers get invited to climb Mount Kilimanjaro with professional skier Lynsey Dyer and "This is Us" actress Mandy Moore. Photographer Andrew Maguire talked about handling this motion and stills shoot for Eddie Bauer without an assistant or producer to help him, bonding with the group as they lived without modern conveniences, and reaching the top of the mountain.
Can you give me an overview of this project and how you got involved?
My rep and I made a visit to the Eddie Bauer offices earlier this January to share my print portfolio of mountain sport stills and video with the art production team in Seattle. We received an inquiry in February checking availability for an overseas project. Lucky for me, I was available for their proposed range of dates. After confirming my availability, the EB team let us know this shoot would be based around documenting a hike up Mt Kilamanjaro led by their first athlete/big mountain skier, Lynsey Dyer. More info continued to flow in that the main focus of the trek would be documenting "This Is Us" actress Mandy Moore and friends navigating the trek up Kili. The EB team asked for us to provide quotes for both stills and motion capture of the trek. I contacted my go-to adventure cinematographer to join the team, but because of space and budget, the EB team asked if we would be comfortable capturing both stills and motion on my own. This option would never be my preference, but its hard to turn down a two-week adventure in Tanzania...with some notable team members.
I shot the entire project on two Sony A7Riii camera bodies, one designated for stills and the other motion. It was difficult to par down the lenses, but being that we would be on the trail and off the grid for seven days, weight played a large factor. Ended up with a Sony 24-70, 70-200 and a Zeiss Batis 25mm for low light. I brought a Macbook Air and a Zhiyun 3 axis gimbal to stabilize the handheld motion shots. Camera and laptop batteries were charged using a Goal Zero Sherpa 100 solar unit and battery.
What was involved in planning/preproduction?
This was a different sort of project for me from a production standpoint. Production and logistics were all arranged by the team at Eddie Bauer...I just needed to show up at the airport. I did tons of research about the climate and conditions up on the mountain. You begin the hike traveling through farmland and wooded forest...four days later you're in arctic conditions at 19,000 feet. Gear needed to be burly...as did I! Luckily this trip fell in early March and I had been touring/backcountry snowboarding when I was not on the road. You could say my altitude training was running up the stairs at my home which sits at 10,000 feet.
Have you ever climbed a mountain of this size before? What were the challenges involved in capturing images while dealing with these extra hurdles?
Previous to this trip, I had summited a half dozen 14,000 foot peaks here in Colorado and in California. In terms of trek length, my max was about 5 days on the trail. This adventure was definitely a large leap for me...I've been on a handful of solo shoots with athletes capturing stills throughout the adventure, but on this project, I was rolling solo without assistants, a producer, or a DP. You really have to train your brain to look at a scene from both an on-going story telling eye and then a more singular moment aspect. I have to say it was a total learning experience but I for sure walked away from Kilamnajaro a with a stronger creative eye/skillset.
Were there any unique or interesting details from the trip?
Oh man...like I said it was a really fun group of people. Mandy was joined by her fiancé Taylor (lead singer of the band Dawes) and her two best friends. They have years of chemistry and friendship and they really left the door open to welcome myself and EB athlete Lynsey. By day two we were all very close and looking out for each other. Its been fun to repost photos from the trip across social media and group texts...definitely an adventure that none of us will ever forget. But yea, our trail conversations were usually pretty comical. We had zero cell reception or connection with the outside world so common topics were the Stormy Daniels gossip and whether or not we'd get back to cell reception and if Donald Trump was still in office. Bathroom status and output also strangely became a popular trail top followed by a large group recap at dinner every night. This interview with Colbert sums it up pretty well.
The entire group was very moved by the kindness and passion that was exemplified by our team of local guides and porters. Their love and passion for the mountain and what it provides to the people and country of Tanzania is extremely moving.
What was the energy like among the group, especially after getting to the top?
Mixed bag of emotions for sure. Summit day definitely took the biggest toll on our group physically and emotionally. You begin your summit trek at midnight and are more or less hiking up mountain in the dark for six hours. The guides time your departure based on hitting the summit at sunrise. You gain about 4000 feet of elevation on summit day, which did get to a few folks on our team. Fatigue and pressure headaches from the altitude caused us to stop a few times once at the base of the summit. We had a really positive team and we all relied on the positivity to keep those folks moving to finish the hike and summit. The final summit moments were filled with laugher and tears. It was a super positive moment for the team and a dream come reality for Mandy.
See more of Andrew at andrew-maguire.com!
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