I recently traveled to Anchorage, Alaska to document the working lifestyle of the local bush pilots, a common profession in the 49th state.
Beyond all the magnificent stories I got to hear from more than a dozen pilots, I got the opportunity to meet an old Light Stalking fellow, the charismatic Dan Bailey.
He has been able to live his dream as a full-time adventure and travel photographer since 1996, and his many skills include being a bush pilot. So we had a wonderful time.
We met in a cozy café, and almost immediately started talking about the meaning of photography beyond gear-related stuff, even though he is a Fujifilm X Photographer.
Here’s a brief transcript of what we talked about on that wonderful day.
Federico Alegría: When did the photography bug bite you seriously, and how was it for you?
Dan Bailey: I was in music college in Boston in the early ’90s and late ’80s, and I had some extra money and I thought, “Maybe I'll buy a camera!” because I'd always been intrigued with photography.
I was taking pictures, but never really seriously. And so I bought a Nikon FM2 and a 50mm lens, and I just started walking around Boston with it, and I fell in love with it. And it’s funny because I actually began by doing street photography. I was taking pictures of street scenes, buildings and things around Boston.
I love the solo creative process, because with music, in order to get something finished and out into the world you have to rely on producers, engineers, and other bandmates. And with photography, it’s only you and the camera. I really enjoyed that aspect of it.
Shortly – a year after – I discovered the work of Galen Rowell. He was a pretty important adventure photographer, and I fell in love with his work.
He shot adventure and action sports, like climbing, mountaineering or skiing; and that was the style that drove me most. When I started looking at his stuff, I knew that that was the kind of photography that I wanted to pursue. My first true love in photography was landscapes, inspired by Galen's work.