When it comes to pushing the limits of rugged products, there’s no better way than getting it in the hands of experts and letting them do their thing. Which is why Urban Armor Gear recently rounded up seven of its favorite outdoor photographers/social influencers and took them to the furthest place possible: New Zealand. Not only is the country a long trek, but it’s also home to some of the world’s most unforgiving terrains.
But this was no controlled photoshoot — the seven days consisted of bungee jumping, jet boats, offroading, hiking, kayaking and more to test the furthest capabilities of UAG-protected devices in the hands of skilled individuals. Taking risks and challenging their abilities, the outdoor creatives came away with uncanny moments because their gear allowed them to go further. It helped them find new angles, inspirations and points-of-view they may not have found otherwise. We caught up with three of the trip’s attendees to talk about New Zealand, outdoor photography and how it’s shaped their lives.
Prince McClinton is the co-founder and CEO of Art of Visuals, creating tools and resources to help photographers/filmmakers navigate the intersection of art and commerce. His work can be seen on Instagram @artofvisuals.
Q: What is your motivation for sharing inspiring outdoor content?
A: We live in an era when the media around us is almost always negative. The message we constantly hear is that the world is dangerous, ugly and that people are terrible. Our motivation for sharing outdoor content is to inspire people and counteract this message by sharing beautiful stories, people and the places around them. The world is a lovely place and we hope you all get out there to experience it with your own senses.
Q: What impact do you hope your content will have with your audience?
A: We hope to inspire our audience to spend more time creating and exploring — and less time consuming. We have been blessed that we’ve been able to make a difference in many people’s lives through our various platforms and we look forward to amplifying that in the near future.
Q: What’s your greatest piece of advice to best experience a new destination?
A: Make friends with locals — English is spoken enough almost everywhere and, paired with body language, you’ll be surprised how easy it can be to communicate. Enjoy the food, the culture and be present. Traveling is all about getting out of your comfort zone not ordering a cheeseburger and fries. But sometimes I order the cheeseburger and fries…
Garrett King was born and raised in Texas and now resides in Huntington Beach, CA. The blending of lifestyle photography with the push of adventure are what make up his unique aesthetic. He engages in videography as well, capturing the moments in all their glory. His work can be seen on Instagram @shortstache.
Q: How did you get started in outdoor photography? What drew you to it?
A: I started photography with just my iPhone. That’s it. It was all I needed and I loved it. As the saying goes, the best camera is the one you have with you. I loved how simple it could be. The idea and the story you have behind it is what makes a solid photograph for me. Later, I eventually upgraded to a small DSLR. I got into outdoor photography because I was venturing out every weekend I could around Colorado. We built a solid crew of friends that did the same and wanted to explore.
Q: When you are setting out to tell a story, what is it that you hope to achieve? What is your objective and how do you work to get it right?
A: When I set out to tell a story, most of the time it tells itself in a much different way. That’s the blessing in disguise for me. I always have this initial plan and goal that I have and standards that I want to meet, but it often shifts as you go into something better. When things line up and other factors come together strongly, that’s when you know you’ve got some momentum to really push the story.
Q: You’ve explored some incredibly remote places, like on this trip to New Zealand. How did you decide this kind of life as a traveler was accessible for you and how did you make it happen?
A: I never thought I’d be traveling like I do now. My life has shifted from one creative field to another. I was a designer and art director for six years before I got into photography. Design was my first passion and still is. I’ve grown to love photography and film so much. My goal is to blend the three together. Traveling has opened up so many doors for me. It’s taught me so much about time management, budgeting, my health, my goals and so much more. I make it happen because I say yes and take risks. Do something that scares you and pushes yourself out of your comfort zone. Traveling has helped me do that.
Forrest Smith is a photographer based in New York City. Born in Colorado, he was exposed to the outdoors early on. Much of his work is inspired by outdoor spaces, the experiences he had within them and the emotions that these places bring him to personally. His work can be seen on his Instagram @lostintheforrest.
Q: What impact has the outdoors had on your life?
A: Growing up in a mountain town had a large influence on my view of the world. Most everything I did as a child I was surrounded by nature — from skiing and running to climbing mountains with friends and family. Through my photography, I hope to share this way of life with people that may not be privileged to experience it. Through sharing this, I hope to show just how meaningful the outdoors are, and furthermore, that they deserve to be respected and preserved.
Q: Why do you travel? What’s the draw of being somewhere very far flung?
A: It may sound cliché, but I travel to learn. There are so many unique perspectives and viewpoints on life all around the globe and by visiting these places I hope to learn something about myself. Whether it’s through talking to locals and people who have been in a certain area for generations or by seeing the effects that climate change has on certain environments, there’s always something to be learned through travel.
Q: In such a connected age, what’s the key to being remote? What value do you find in it personally?
A: It’s hard to disconnect in today’s society, but more than ever being present is essential. With so much happening on our phones, it’s important to look up and remember that life happens off the Internet. Being in remote places, especially outside, is a reminder of this. By taking yourself off the Internet, no matter if it is for a week or just an afternoon, gives you the space to be completely engrossed in your own experience.
UAG offers a full line of protective cases in various colors for the new iPhone X, Xs, Xs Max and XR. The UAG iPhone collection ranges in price from $34.95-$59.95 and are available now on UAG’s website.