I get asked this question often and I try to respond to everyone personally if I can because I’ve always loved to dispel any myths of a secret sauce.
I have my job as the only full time Arc’teryx Photographer not because I am a genius photographer or a high performance athlete. I’m not hyper talented like some of my peers and I am far from being a female Jimmy Chin. The truth is, I simply got lucky, then worked very very hard.
The reason I love to share this story when people ask is that I am not special and I do think anyone can do it. I wasn’t the best photographer in the world and I didn’t know anyone that worked for Arc’teryx to get an in. It was luck that turned into an amazing relationship between Arc’teryx, Photography and myself and we’ve been evolving together ever since. It’s now been 15 years.
Luck is not a single strain superpower, I see it more as a package of random factors. In my case it was timing, opportunity and a deep seated will to grow. For this stroke of luck I will admit there was also an element of magic juju that just feels it was meant to be. Luck started this journey but over the past 15 years I’ve backed up that luck with four things that are available to all of us.
I moved from Australia to Whistler to do a ski season. Naturally, I fell in love with Canada and I stayed. I did the ski town job rounds ending in working for a snowmobile company. Although one of the funnest jobs to date, my creative heart needed more. Off to Emily Carr Art and Design School I went. To take Graphic Design. I wasn’t an artist but I loved magazines. In fact I was addicted to magazines. I would ohh over the design, consume the photography and collect catalogs of the greats.
At the time, the magazine I wanted to work for didn’t exist, a mag with beautiful design of outdoor or travel content (The Ski Journal or Suitcase of today). Although I desired life on Madison Ave, a big city was not for me. I needed trails and ski runs right out of my door. My second choice was to work for Burton… in Innsbruck. Random upon reflection but I was a snowboarder and it was a city surrounded by mountains. Except I didn’t speak German.
During last term at Emily Carr we had to do a presentation on a company whose design we admired. I’d chose Arc’teryx and a few months after my presentation, a class mate sent me a job post for a junior Graphic Designer at Arc’teryx. I made a magazine for a resume. I got the job.
I was a Graphic Designer for two years. I loved it and some of things I designed we still use today. However, a desk chair working with outdoor imagery all day made me fidgety so I pitched ideas to my boss on what else I could do. We already had another Graphic Designer taking photos so what about I start a video program. I taught myself video and shot and edited Arc’teryx’s first ever product video.
It was fun to learn but as we grew the needs doubled and before long I was shooting both photo and video on every shoot. An epic amount of work. If you ever have done this I am sure you can relate. It was also a shit tonne of gear and as we ran very lean assistants weren’t a thing. I would find myself skiing with a pack I could barely lift off the ground. It was often loaded with tripods, sliders, audio equipment and ball heads weighing more than my camera.
I love physical labour but the amount of gear was always so hefty and my expectations of the quality I wanted to produce was being compromised. It was time to simplify.
As timing would have it Arc’teryx was finally at place where I could just focus on Photography.
Reaching this milestone was epic in itself but the journey didn’t cruise from there. It just became more focused, more intentional and required even harder work. I am eternally grateful for this journey to the people I have worked both with and for. I owe them my career. I’m eternally grateful to my support network who have tirelessly kept me afloat but how I came to be the Arc’teryx photographer truly still comes back to luck.