This week we sat down with photographer, filmmaker, and author, Jason Hatfield. In addition to being incredibly talented at photography and film, Jason is also an advocate for the environment and climate change. So much so that he and his wife have decided to sell their house and live in a trailer to both help reduce their environmental impact and see more of the world together. See the interview below!
What keeps you excited and motivated about your travel and photography work?
Oh, quite a few things. And I can say the first thing is that I like to go back to a lot of the places that I go to. There's always something interesting about exploring and being different, but going back to the same locations and seeing it in different conditions every year based on how much snow we had, or rain we had, or how hot it was...it really varies and to get to know an area like a local and be intimate with the landscape, I'll always find something good but it'll still be different. I've gone to some of the same places dozens of times and every time, I've captured a different photograph which is pretty interesting to me.
Then obviously there's exploring new areas around the places that I already know. I've driven basically every four-wheel drive road in the San Juans, but I'm still finding new areas, little side roads, little places I can hike off to. And it doesn't have to be a big icon like Yosemite or the Grand Teton. You can still find really incredible places for exploring.
A good example is a few years back when I was just exploring around, I found a hidden waterfall in the San Juans. It was not really known at the time and it blew my mind because it looked like it was in Oregon. Since then it has become more known but back then I looked on the web and found maybe two other photographs of the waterfall even though I had been within a thousand feet of it over a dozen times and never saw it before.
What's your best adventure planning tip?
I feel like the one that's probably said a lot and is valid is to not over plan it and just explore and take a path you don't know. But I also think a good one is talking to the locals when you get to where you're going. It's a huge thing that you can do when you're adventure planning. There have been many times I've been sitting in Telluride and having a meal or walking around and end up talking to somebody and they will tell me about something that's worth going to and checking out. I've discovered a number of areas like this. You can go to a visitor center and talk to people there and sometimes you'll get good tips, but you're honestly better off going to the local pizza place or brewery and talking to people to learn where they've been getting out to biking, hiking or running.
What do you find is the most enjoyable way to experience the outdoors?
I'd say my favorite way to enjoy the outdoors is backpacking. I don't think anything gets me more connected to nature. I love trail running and do a fair amount of mountain biking and skiing but as far as feeling like you're really out there in the wilderness goes, I think backpacking is the way to go. You've got to go out, hike to your location, bring all your food, find your spot and for me, finding where I'm camping...that connects me more. I usually find the most photographic place to set up my tent, which is not necessarily always the safest, but that connects me more. There's no better way to connect with a location then sleeping there multiple nights in a row, and when you open your tent...BOOM...the view.
What's the last thing that you read or heard that had a truly profound impact on you?
It's not so much one specific thing I've read, but it has to be reports about global warming and climate change. I read deep into some of the impact reports and the warm up is happening quicker than we thought. A good example is this recent snow that we had in Colorado. It was an epic snow year and there have been avalanches everywhere and record-breaking snow pack, and people will think that we're fine, but these things are just symptoms of climate change.
So it would be the climate change reports put out by government agencies.
**You can check out these reports below, courtesy of Jason**
- Response Strategies - Explore actions to reduce emissions and adapt to a changing climate: https://nca2014.globalchange.
- US Global Change Research Program: https://www.globalchange.gov
What would your most ideal #KujuMoment look like?
For me, I would say on a backpacking trip. Whether it's with my dad and my dog going out to go fishing or with my wife and my dog. It would be up in the Wind River Range, waking up at sunrise, popping out of the tent, making a little bit of coffee and photographing the sunrise. Just being there with somebody else and enjoying that beautiful mountain scenery...that would be my ideal moment.
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