The Wild Outdoors with Chris Amat

As part of our upcoming Adventure Project series this summer, we will be working with several select collaborators to take This is Ground on the road with them as they travel the world.

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Canadian photographer, Chris Amat has been captivating Instagram users with his photos of the diverse countryside of Calgary– from snowy mountaintops to incredibly lush landscapes that dwarf his subjects in the most surreal manner. He’s a part of the Great North Collective, a group of like-minded photographers dedicated to building community through the exploration of their surroundings. Their motto is: Explore. Create. Inspire. and Chris does just that; he’s a true adventurer at heart.

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Hi Chris, you do an amazing job of capturing the vastness and beauty of nature in your work. Did you spend a lot of time in nature as a kid?

I didn’t spend all that much time outside as a kid unless you consider riding a bike around the neighborhood and occasionally into the park as spending time in nature. Most of my time was spent hanging out with friends, watching movies and playing video games. It wasn’t up until recently that I got bored of the routine that I had in my life and started to get out and really taking advantage of my backyard.

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How far away are most of your shooting locations from your home?

Most of the places I shoot are anywhere from 45 minutes to three or four hours away. I am lucky to live in such a diverse place, from the prairies to the badlands to the rocky mountains I have quite the selection of places to pick from.

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Your portraits in the snow are particularly noteworthy. Is it a challenge to shoot in such frosty conditions?

It can be, but I have been fortunate enough to work with really awesome people who are always willing to brave the cold with me. And as far as gear goes my DSLR usually handles the cold pretty well, my iPhone so-so.

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Can you tell me a little bit about the Great North Collective?

Great North Collective is a social community made up photographers and artists committed to capturing our beautiful surroundings. We focus on creating iconic imagery on any format, whether it’s on your iPhone, DSLR or anything between. Our goal is to inspire, captivate and encourage everyone to get out there and explore their surroundings and share it with our community.

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What do you shoot with?

I shoot with a Canon 5D Mark II and my iPhone 5.

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What can’t you travel without?

My iPhone. Sometimes my DSLR can be a pain to lug around all day. I am almost always happy with the images I get out of my iPhone and it fits perfectly in my pocket… not to mention all those other neat things it can do, like make phone calls and stuff.

What are you listening to at the moment?

There isn’t anything in particular that I am constantly going back to. My wife and friends are the music connoisseurs around here so I just tap into their playlists when I am looking for something new.

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Follow @christopheramat on Instagram

Through the Lens of Pei Ketron

As part of our upcoming Adventure Project series this summer, we will be working with several select collaborators to take This is Ground on the road with them as they travel the world.

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ph: Jason E Kim

There’s a wonderful personal quality to the work of Pei Ketron. Viewing her photographs, you feel as though you’re traveling the globe along with her, riding around inside her iPhone, peering through the lens. On Instagram, her warm personality is apparent in her captions and use of perspective. Pei’s humanitarian influences are visible in her work as well and despite the fact that many of her photos are taken around the world, they serve as an inspiration for us to appreciate the everyday, routine aspects of our lives.

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Where are you and what can you hear out your window right this moment?
I’m currently in Taipei, Taiwan and can hear the sounds of the city outside my window: cars and motor scooters driving by, intermittent honking, and occasional chatter from passing pedestrians.

What drew you to photography?
I became drawn to photography because it changed the way I looked at the world around me. It made me slow down, notice, and appreciate moments in life that often get overlooked. To me, it’s a very introspective, personal process that suits my personality quite a bit.

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What was your first camera?
I didn’t get into photography until the end of college when I had a cheap point and shoot film camera, a Fujifilm Discovery 290s Zoom. I quickly upgraded to a 35mm film SLR, a Canon AL-1, that was loaned to me by some family friends. I made the jump to digital in 2003 with a Canon Powershot G3.

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Who are some of your favorite photographers?
I love the portraits of Steve McCurry, the travel and humanitarian work of Lisa Kristine, the minimalist work of Akos Major, and the street photography of Vivian Maier.

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ph: Steve McCurry
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ph: Akos Major
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ph: Vivian Maier

Can you tell me a little more about the humanitarian work you’ve done? What countries have you worked in and what was your experience like?
I haven’t done nearly as much humanitarian work as I’d like to do, but the humanitarian work I tend to gravitate towards is usually child-centric work in developing countries. I’ve spent time with preschoolers in Mozambique and with students with special needs in India. Both were eye-opening experiences that taught me to find joy in the life that I have and to think twice about what my priorities should be.

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What’s your next destination?
I have a short personal trip to Seoul, South Korea planned. It’s a country I’ve never spent any time in before and I’m excited to experience the culture and compare the city to other major cities I’ve been to.

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And your travel essentials?
Photography gear (film, digital, and mobile phone gear and accessories), ample back-up batteries, a good camera bag, an inflatable travel pillow (I can’t stay awake on an airplane for the life of me), snacks, Chapstick, and hand lotion.

Lastly, what’s your favorite book?
Does a play count? Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream is one of my favorite stories and I read it long before I ever saw it on stage. I love the lighthearted, playful spirit of the story and how the multi-layered story mixes a little bit of fantasy with real life.

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Follow Pei on Instagram this summer at @pketron.

Quick Q&A with Benjamin Heath

As part of our upcoming Adventure Project series this summer, we will be working with several select collaborators to take This is Ground on the road with them as they travel the world.
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We’d been following the work of Benjamin Heath on Instagram for a while, marveling at all the dreamy landscapes and being inspired by his intimate portraits when suddenly, up on our feed popped a photo of our Cordito Cord Wrap. It’s always an honor to have your products appreciated by those who inspire you and so when we were thinking of who to include in our Adventure Project, Ben was a no-brainer; He epitomizes our modern day adventurer. We asked him a few quick questions while he was on the road in Scotland and we look forward to seeing where he goes next!

 

Hi Ben, I feel like every time I check Instagram you’re somewhere new. Where are you today? And where are you off to next?

Hi! Today I am in Glencoe Scotland. Next I’m headed to Isle of Skye for a few days and then Barcelona.

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What can’t you travel without?

I can’t travel without a camera. Big, small, film, digital – I have to have something to photo with.

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We were excited to be included in your travel bag for Nairobi. Can you tell me a little about your time in Kenya and your work for Water.org?

Yes! That was an incredibly fulfilling experience. I was fortunate to be asked by Water to help with a project telling stories about the impact of fresh water systems in rural Kenya to help raise awareness for World Water Day. I’m proud to have been part of the project and the new perspectives it brought me and, hopefully, others.

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Who are your favorite photographers? 

Alex Webb and Bruce Davidson have been my favorites for awhile. I also love Philip-Lorca diCorcia.

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ph: Philip-Lorca diCorcia

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ph: Bruce Davidson

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ph: Alex Webb

Film or digital?

Both! Whatever I’m in the mood for. I’ve been using film for a lot of my personal work lately.

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Portraiture or landscape?

Portraits. I love taking photos of people.

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Follow @benjaminheath on Instagram

Groomsman Kit Collab

Eric and Sarah wanted a small, DIY wedding but as anyone who has gotten engaged knows, the planning process kind of takes off on its own. As the guest list grew they saw their personal, crafty wedding slipping away and cookie cutters looming in the horizon. To keep their vision on track they hired a wedding planner to help with the big picture and they turned their attention to the things that mattered the most: including their guests in the wedding experience. High on Eric’s list was finding a perfect gift for the men who would stand with him while he waited for his bride to walk down the aisle.

The list of groomsmen included his brother and friends from every part of his life and Eric wanted to show his appreciation for all seven of them. He felt like “just getting them stuff wasn’t going to be enough”, so several weeks before his wedding, Eric decided to come to This Is Ground for a solution. Piece by piece he worked with us to assemble a personalized kit that would serve the busy, traveling lifestyle that all his best guys had in common.

Eric chose to make all the pieces of his groomsman kit with our signature Bomber hide and together we identified the items that would organize and protect the essentials: passports, eye wear, headphones, cards, phones and notebooks.

Eric wanted to make sure each groomsmen felt his personal touch in their gift, so he had us engrave each one’s initials into the products he thought would age with them and be used for years to come. We took the kits to be monogrammed by a precision laser cutter at The Build Shop.

The final presentation was a well-rounded selection of minimal-form but highly functional objects.

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For each groomsman, we made an individually monogrammed Tomo pouch and Leatherback Writer 2, a McFeely wallet, a Cord Taco Supreme 5-pack and a custom Sunglasses Sleeve.

A week before his wedding, we sent the kits off to Florida with Eric along with 500 of our cord tacos and gave him our well wishes. The day of the wedding, as they prepared for Eric and Sarah’s big day, the groomsmen found a tie and pocket square for the ceremony, along with their This is Ground groomsmen kits, accompanied by flasks of scotch.

The groomsmen’s reaction was one of initial surprise at the level of Eric’s thoughtfulness. After a few moments of stunned silence they expressed their appreciation for such special gifts and Eric was glad to know his groomsmen felt his gratitude for their presence in his life.

After the ceremony, as the sunny afternoon transitioned into evening, the guests made their way to dinner, where the cord tacos we sent were used as place holders for seating and made individual gifts for each and every guest.

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Eric and Sarah had set out to deliver one message to each and every person attending their wedding, that this day was special and so was their role in it.

All they had left to do, was enjoy the moment.