Into the Wild, My Excursion to Bald Mountain with Ella

It is pretty clear that the majority of my work of late has been within the comfort of my Portland studio, where I have become accustomed to how the light works, where to place my subjects and more. So when I saw a post in a local photography group by a traveling australian looking to collaborate on some images while in town, I jumped at the opportunity.

At that point I had no idea what she had in mind, she could have wanted to shoot teenage mutant ninja turtles cosplay for all I knew, but I reached out and sent her a message to let her know that I was interested. I was excited at the possibility to get out of my current comfort zone and try something different, little did I know, that her goals and mine were actually very similar and along the same lines.

Her name is Ella Noah Bancroft, and as I mentioned before she is in the US from Australia. Upon reaching out I discovered that she was interested in shooting some powerful nude images in the outdoors. She wanted to use them to go along with some of her writing on her website and social media. Being a boudoir photographer, a lot of what I shoot is about empowerment for the women that I shoot, being it physically, emotionally, sexually – its different for them all. It seemed that this would be a perfect project to step outside of my current comfort zone with, as it still had similar goals. The problem — with her being a foreigner, and I being newer to the area and primarily a studio shooter — neither one of us had much of an idea of where to shoot.

So I did some research and settled on a place called Bald Mountain, over in the Mount Hood National Forest. It looked like a section of trails that would be fairly low traffic on a Monday afternoon/evening, and based on the images that I saw, looked like it would offer some good shooting environments and a second to none view of the iconic Mt Hood. 

So I picked Ella up around 2pm from Dapper & Wise in SE Portland, and we drove the roughly hour and a half out to the Lolo Pass trailhead and began our journey up that section of the Pacific Crest Trail towards out destination. We did not have much with us, I had my camera, and a backpack with some things that I though I might need, some snacks and water – etc.

Needless to say, the adventure was incredible — full of great conversation, plenty of beautiful nature to enjoy, and the eventual view of Mt Hood from several viewpoints was breathtaking. I shot both with my X-Pro 2 as well as the K1000, and while I have not developed the film yet, the results I have seen from my digital images so far are great. I had to warm up to them, being so vastly different from my usual work, but once I got over than initial shock and began to see the image for what they were, and for their potential after processing, I was very pleased with what I had produced.

I stepped out of my comfort zone, went to an environment that I had no real experience shooting in, to shoot a subject I had very limited interaction with prior to the shoot. I had to use m knowledge of light, shadow, and my familiarity with my camera to visualize what I wanted to  do at each of the locations that we stopped to shoot.

Anyways, it was a learning experience for sure. It has inspired me to make it a point to step outside the studio more often and challenge myself while still sticking to my goals and passions as a photographer.

Ella has already shared one of the images from the shoot, along with a beautiful piece of writing over on her website., if you have a minute go and check it out.