Thursday, February 23, 2012

Growing up Skinner

I've been wanting to write this post for some time now, but it was a nice push for me to write it after I read my friend Max's post.
I grew up with tents and skis and sleeping bags occupying our guest room. People came and left our house, and we called  them not by their real names but by their nicknames, like Vedauwoo John and Wild Bill. My family and these friends shaped my world into a transient, adventure-seeking, whirlwind of stories of far-off places. For a long time, I thought this is how everyone had grown up--camping in tepees in backcountry Wyoming, or waiting for a friend or family member to come home from a long climbing trip abroad.

I never really understood how different my family was until my Uncle, Todd Skinner, passed away in October of 2006. Years and years, still, after his accident, I meet people who knew and looked up to him. The world has shrunk a little for me since then. There was so much panic around me to carry on my Uncle's legacy, somehow, I felt like I needed to pick up a part of that.

And now I sit here with my deep cup of coffee, almost 5 and a half years later, assured that climbing is not my future. It will always be a rooted part of who I am, but not completely. It's taken me up to this point in my life to settle with the fact that I won't be the climber and storyteller my Uncle had been, or the mountaineer that my father once was, or the skiers that my grandparents were. And I was never supposed to be, because that was what they were passionate about and filled them up- that was theirs. I have come a long way to realize that visual storytelling is what I'm passionate about.

Some people argue that because who my family was to the industry, it has been easier for me to make my way. But I could disagree. It is, indeed, easier for me to meet people because of who I am related to.  It is also a huge honor to be a part of a line of such wonderful and talented people, but there are also challenges that come with that title. A big part of that is the struggle between choosing adventures over relationships. You can read my thoughts on that here.

I feel lucky to have grown up in this arena of  athletes and adventurous souls. I truly believe that this is the lifestyle that I will live forever, and will encourage generations after me to do the same. I feel more comfortable living a non-conventional lifestyle than many will ever be. My relationships with friends and family will always be different than most, as I don't like to stay long in one location, and hope to make homes in many places. And I feel lucky to be surrounded with people who believe the same. My Uncle Todd's children have grown up to be the most incredible adventurers. They are more comfortable in the wilderness that any young person I've seen, and the knowledge that they exude is so unique to their ages.

Brad Werntz Photograph, Skinner Brothers Camp, Wyoming.

It's so nice to meet people who know and knew my family, and tell me stories, but I respect people who get to know me for my interests and passions before asking me if I follow my family's. Because, they are a large part of me, but they are not who I am. We always have a part of our family in us, whether they are more a part of who we are then we would sometimes like to admit. But, I wouldn't have traded this for the world. My lineage has allowed me to see incredible places both in person and in photographs, hear stories of great adventures, and has also shaped my attitudes toward death and respect of the mountains. I'm happy to be a Skinner, to be a member of this industry full of dedicated and talented friends, and I can assure you that if I ever have children, I would love for them to grow up in such a wild and unique way as I did.

The first time I watched a Cory Richard's film, he shared a quote that his father had told him, "Go gently." This struck a cord in me, and I think about it often. I want to live my life being wild but not reckless, honest but not brutal, sure-footed, but not over-confident. I'm learning.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Mountains and bars

I only have roughly a month and a half left in Wyoming before I move to Bozeman. I'm not sure that I have felt this restless and eager to move on. I know that once the time comes, I will be sad to leave. But for now, I'm excited to be traveling, to be working at a job I love and am passionate about. But being in these moments of months before the long-awaited change have got me feeling stuck and anxious. My days have turned into routines, keeping inside my comfort zones and not pushing limits. I've started climbing again to try to reduce some of the restless feelings. It's helped, and so does being outside.

I read this once, about wide open places:

"This spaciousness, this wide-open, unbiased, unprejudiced space is inexpressible and fundamentally good and sound. It's like the sky.'re feeling uncomfortable, whenever you are caught up and don't know what to do, you can find someplace where you can go and look at the sky and experience some sort of freshness, free of hope and fear, free of bias and prejudice, just completely open. Space permeates everything, every moment of our lives."

and that is how I've lived my life ever since.

This shoot with Heidi was taken spur of the moment. Those of you who are not in photography might think it's a little ridiculous what people go through to go on photo shoots. It was maybe 5 degrees outside, and we snuck into an old, broken down bar I had gotten permission to shoot in months and months ago. The place is terrifyingly creepy and every time the wind blows, it turns the pages of an old book-half burned- laying on a shelf. We spent a lot of time walking on glass and scaring ourselves silly, and just as our toes froze in our boots, we walked a quarter of a mile back to the car that was parked in the only spot along the road that wasn't a snow bank.

Lately, I've been dreading photo shoots, before they happen, because they aren't surprising or different or anything that I really, really cared for. But I believe that's changing, and I'm walking away with images that I feel connected to and love.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Life is short.
Too short.
You should be picky about who you spend your precious moments with, and what you do with them. You should decide what locations to spend your time in, and if it's really worth complaining about. Only take the best people to be in company with, the most fulfilling activities and the things that make you laugh harder than anything else.

Like spray painting your fly fishing rod hot pink with your best friend and skiing down the street in your neighborhood and cutting your hair and waking up with a kitten nesting on your pillow.

those kinds of things.

Monday, February 6, 2012


While backing up photos this weekend, I found photos from my trip to Lander this past summer. I had decided to take a month off work before I left for Indonesia to simply, go live in my car. During that time I had several great memories that will stick with me for the rest of my life.

One of these memories was learning how to jug a route for photos. It was way harder than I imagined. Mostly because I didn't do it correctly, but it was such a good experience. While Kris was trying a route, I jugged up beforehand to get some photos of him trying Ghost Dance, an incredible looking route (if you want sweaty palms, just read his write up.) Getting ready to jumar, I attached two of these carabiners to my camera to protect it from falling while I was swinging around. It was a good learning experience: learning not only to keep my gear safe, but be multitasking to make sure I was safe as well. 
Kris Hampton working Ghost Dance
Kris packing it up at the end of the day.

I learned a lot about myself in the couple months over the summer. It's nice to feel like I have homes in a lot of places, not just one. Finding little pieces of yourself that you weren't expecting to find is a good feeling. I feel so lucky to have grown up exploring the sage plains and the high alpine meadows. Really, really lucky.

I miss wearing sandals and lying in the sun. But the layout for this summer is looking real nice. I got a job working for the absolutely wonderful Outdoor Nation events as their photographer. I'm also taking a whole month (!!!!) to go to Yosemite. It's just the pup and I that will be hanging out in a cabin for a couple weeks with friends coming and going.

In other news, this is what I've been up to lately: 

Sorry for the lack of text and the overload of photos. I can tell you that things have been a little different lately, but I'll write a longer post about that on a later date. For now, enjoy these photographs.