Stevin Tuchiwsky wants to share a new perspective with you. The Calgary-based outdoor lifestyle photographer is known for images of broad vistas and dramatic landscapes. Perhaps more significant, he’s known for images that present a different view of the outdoors, both in terms of the locations they portray and the point of view they share. Whether it’s looking out from an ice cave or peering down a vertical wall at an advancing rock climber, Tuchiwsky shows an alternative angle designed to make the viewer feel something different and perhaps look at wild places in a new light.
That perspective has drawn the attention of a variety of outdoor sports, clothing, gear, and travel clients as well as editorial outlets. These clients are looking for unique perspectives to tell their story, something distinct from the usual postcard-esque views of the world’s well-worn natural areas.
This suits Tuchiwsky well. A planner by nature, he relishes the challenge of identifying new takes on seldom-visited locations. He does extensive research before every outing, poring over Google Maps, examining destination details online, and planning out routes, gear, and travel logistics. Often, he’ll reverse engineer a trip from a desired endpoint and then create his own adventure along the way.
And then, just when Tuchiwsky’s best-laid plans are about to go into action, everything changes. “Nothing is certain in outdoor photography,” he says. “It’s important to adapt and not get tunnel vision. Sometimes people get hyper-focused on a particular shot. But it’s good to be mindful of other opportunities that present themselves when conditions change. Change a lens, change your perspective, change the approach to what you see when you’re out there.”
Of course, when you’re on a client shoot, you can’t simply abandon the shot you were contracted to capture. It’s important to have the appropriate gear and skillset to produce on demand, regardless of conditions. However, there’s an educational element that goes into every client project as well, says Tuchiwsky. A lot of people could hike to a remote spot and snap a picture. Where you can provide extra value as a professional outdoor photographer is by sharing additional ideas, helping clients understand other potential creative directions, and exploring a variety of options that might complement the original scope of work.
Planning a successful photo expedition takes forethought and a few useful pro tips for getting in and out of the wilderness with your photos, and yourself, intact.
Snuggle for power. The most important tip for cold-weather shoots is keeping batteries warm, says Tuchiwsky. He keeps a set inside his jacket, close to his body, to prevent them from freezing and losing their charge.
Change upside down. When you change lenses, use your back as a shelter, holding the camera body facing down and lens facing up. It’s easier to clean a lens than a camera sensor, especially when you’re working with a mirrorless body.
Air it out. When you get home from a photography expedition, open your gear bag to let your equipment breathe and prevent condensation.
Warm gradually. When going from a super cold shoot to a warm environment, transition the temperature of your gear gradually to avoid condensation. Tuchiwsky often puts his gear in his car, where it can come up to temp slowly as the heater gradually warms the car. Once equipment is at room temperature, it’s safe to bring it inside a heated building.
Double up. If you have dual card slots in your camera, use them. Always. “I learned this lesson the hard way when I didn’t use both cards during a shoot and lost all the photos on the single card,” remembers Tuchiwsky. “I had to hike 10 kilometers through the snow to get back to the location and recreate the shoot.”
Plan for the worst. When packing for a photo expedition, plan for the worst-case scenario for that time of year. And realize that no matter how well you plan, something unpredicted will likely arise.
Learn from mistakes. No one’s a born expert. You need to make mistakes to learn. Bringing the wrong weight of jacket is something you can overcome (at least you have a jacket). Going to bear country and not taking bear spray—much worse.
“It’s so hard for new, young people getting into this industry right now because there’s this expectation that you need all this gear and all these followers and all these clients to be relatable,” says Tuchiwsky. “Don’t worry about all that. Just pick up a camera and shoot and shoot and shoot. You will evolve.”
There are plenty of great resources available to expedite that evolution. Online tutorials, seminars, YouTube instruction videos—it’s a massive wealth of information that can flatten the learning curve and help you get where you want to be with your photography quicker. Perhaps most valuable, says Tuchiwsky, is the mutual inspiration drawn from photographing with groups of like-minded artists.
“Going to shoot with a group of people is great for inspiration, learning new techniques, and finding perspectives,” he says. “It’s helpful to have those conversations about photography and how you can take your work to a new level.”
That sense of community also produces collaboration and a feeling of mutual value. When you work together, you understand the effort fellow photographers go through, and you’re more likely to assign more worth to your own work. That helps raise up the entire field in the process.
It also helps improve your work. When you value yourself more, you’re able to put yourself on better footing with clients, leading to better collaborations. “When you have a client that understands your value and expects to pay your worth, it creates a better relationship with better final results,” says Tuchiwsky. “And that’s really what it’s all about.”
Jeff Kent is the editor-at-large.