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Taking on the elements with Krystle Wright

Sometimes, inspiration strikes in a singular moment. For National Geographic photographer Krystle Wright, there have been many such moments. But to her, some images carry more significance than others.

Like in 2010, when Krystle conducted a month-long expedition in Baffin Island, a remote location in Northern Canada. While camping during a blizzard, she spotted a local Inuit man driving his dog sled through a fjord.

The image is composed of a few simple elements: the man, his dogs, and looming in the background, snow-capped mountains, barely visible and cloud-like beneath the snowstorm. For Krystle, the key to a powerful image is in its simplicity. Simple elements can transform the image, magnifying the moment into something powerful and inspiring.

Look through Krystle Wright’s lens, and you’ll get an impression of what life looks like when lived to the fullest. Having completed projects across all seven continents, it’s clear that this photographer is always on the move, documenting everything from sperm whales in the Azores and nomadic horse riders in Mongolia to adventure sportsmen plunging down breathtaking waterfalls.

When studying her photos, it appears as if Krystle’s job is the stuff dreams are made of, but it’s important understand that it took both guts and persistence for her to become the renowned adventure photographer she is today.

Hailing from Australia, Krystle first fell in love with photography as a teenager. She started out by shooting on a simple Kodak disposable camera, documenting the world around her and developing the skills that would one day take her on adventures around the globe. Upon graduating from high school, she decided to take her chances with the medium she loved and enrolled to complete a degree in photography at university.

She started her career as a professional photographer, covering sports events for the
local newspaper. At first, Krystle only got occasional shifts which allowed her to seek out adventure during her free time. However, everything changed in 2011 when, through a chance opportunity, she landed a job to work as a photography guide in Antarctica. The experience was life-changing, finally convincing her to leave sports photography and pursue adventure photography full-time.

When asked about her enthusiasm for adventure photography, the National Geographic photographer replied, “I actually love the fact that I cannot be in control of anything when working in Mother Nature. It won’t matter how much I plan, there will always be surprises I need to react to.”

As a bonus, by moving away from sports photography, she no longer had to compete with other photographers by running the sidelines at major sports events. With adventure photography, she claimed, “the only thing that would hold me back are the natural elements.”

The latest development in photography undoubtedly has to do with mobile photography.
With the advent of smartphones, photography has finally become accessible to mainstream audiences. The democratization of image-making has allowed mobile photography to become the most convenient way to explore and learn about the basic tenets of photography. Oftentimes, the smartphone has supplanted any need for standalone camera equipment. From shooting to editing, to sharing, it’s hard to discount the smartphone as a powerful photographic tool—one with unique strengths not seen in other image- making formats.

“ To be able to reach success, I cannot be complacent or lack the initiative to evolve my work constantly. ”

National Geographic named Krystle as a leading female adventure photographer, one who constantly pushes the limits of photography. Krystle attributes her success to her perfectionism and consistent ability to challenge herself. She says, “To be able to reach [success], I cannot be complacent or lack the initiative to evolve my work constantly.” This mindset is key when it comes to photography, a medium where it’s essential to never stop learning. The medium is forever evolving, allowing for new ideas to form and new creative ways to capture beautiful, timeless images.

So, when OnePlus gave Krystle a OnePlus 7 Pro smartphone, she was equal parts skeptical and excited. Though she admitted that the idea of switching from a DSLR to a smartphone camera was intimidating at first, once she was able to try it out and could see first-hand how the phone adapted to different environments, she became a lot more excited about the opportunities it offered. “It only took a morning of becoming familiar with the phone, and I found myself quite entranced with the sleek system… It’s exciting to see the developments, and each new device becomes more advanced. It certainly makes it even more accessible for the mass audience, and we live in an age where photography still continues to evolve.”

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