Words by: Jill Macdonald | Photos by: Chad Sayers & Steve Ogle
Chad Sayers and Steve Ogle were in Patagonia last year (see Issue 8: Lithographica, El Fin Del Mundo). Sponsored vagabonds in a sense – professional skier (Sayers) and action sports photographer (Ogle) – they have perfected the arts of passing time and observation while on the road – with cameras.
Throwback slide film guy Sayers; digital guy Ogle. Both pack up their gear and tripods at 4 am to catch fleeting ambient light. Lining up the right place with the right moment.
“Slide film is great for fine details. Textures really come through and become a focus of their own.”
“We look at a map and then drive. It’s like a safari; we’re searching for rare species. Moments. Things you wouldn’t notice if you were whizzing past in a bus or focused on a climbing objective.”
“Patagonia is known for its wild light. There’s such a short window of time though, especially in the mountains. Everything has to be ready.”
Perfect moments include an alphabet of waiting for all the right conditions to fall into place. No matter the location, patience and dedication are required. In Sayers’ case, this includes weeks between taking the shots and actually viewing the processed results on his light table back at home.
“We could see the wind and the light adding dimension to a horizontal plane. The grasses are all bent; they’re pulling the shadows in that direction.”
“We watched this hole open up, like a reflection, scoured off the ridge.”
“The skies are huge, like the scale of the mountains. Light is fleeting. It’s there, and very quickly, it’s gone.”
On editorial assignment, Ogle has to work within the moment. Light, action, and story do not repeat themselves. It’s the antithesis of what he can do in his free time, choosing location and subject, or capturing a moment because it is there; maybe it will eventually be used, somewhere. At work, plenty of what is taken never makes it into the designated story.
Out of the three weeks they spent in Patagonia only a few days were skiable. We can look at these circumstances as constraints or freedoms. It’s easy to think that professionals go out and nail their line or their shot every time. They don’t. Some stories end up scrapped altogether. But it’s never a wasted opportunity. For Chad, every trip is a photo safari. (see Litho Issue 7 – Steadfast). Having Steve out there beside him highlights the differences and sameness of what they notice, and what they’re willing to do to capture that. A wealth of images and experiences.