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

7 Questions with Justhanni

We first stumbled across the photography of Hanni (aka justhanni) on Instagram where he’s gained a large following for his charismatic VSCO Cam iPhone photography. He tagged our Cord Taco in a photo of his everyday bag and when we checked out his photos, we were immediately charmed by the quote on his profile, “Life is too short to remove USB safely”. Since then, we’ve been following along with his quiet, thoughtful photography from Denmark (and beyond) which has captivated us with its inventive use of symmetry and light.

How do you start your day?
With coffee! On the way to work (I vary between car, metro and bike) I listen to some nice tunes to get me started and catch up with my Instagram feed/comments.

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What do you carry in your everyday bag?
Always my Fujifilm X20, extra iPhone charger and two different sets of earphones (neatly wrapped in my TIG products :), sunglasses and a shemagh.

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How does Copenhagen inspire your photography?
Copenhagen keeps surprising me and showing me new sides of itself. It’s a city that’s going through a lot of change and it allows for constant inspiration that way. I also love following my fellow Copenhagen Instagramers’ takes on our city – it seems like there’s always new angles and spots to discover.

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What do you shoot with when you’re not on your iPhone?
Currently I’m in between DSLR’s, but I’m planning on getting a Canon 6D soon. So at the moment I’m having great fun shooting with my Fujifilm X20.

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Your favorite travel destination?
Just one favourite destination? That’s a tough one… I’ve been fortunate enough to visit so many great places. But China really stood out. Being an immensely large country, I was amazed at its diverse milieus and cultures. In just 15 days I experienced hi-tech metropolises, an historic wall, quaint river villages, mystical mountain ranges and tropical environments.

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What can’t you live without?
Traveling.

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What are you listening to/reading/watching at the moment?
Like the rest of the world, I’m following Game of Thrones right now, but honestly I don’t have much time for TV or reading. Perhaps just for reading Instagram comments, ha! ;)

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Follow @justhanni on Instagram.