A Photographer's 4.5-Year Quest For The Perfect Base Jumping Shot

Courtesy of Adventure Reels
Courtesy of Adventure Reels
In the lead up to the 2016 Radical Reels Tour, Australian adventure photographer Krystle Wright took time out of her assignment with Canon Australian in Mexico to speak with Culture Trip about her adrenaline-fueled career and what motivated her to spend almost five years trying to capture a BASE jumper mid-flight.

How did you become an adventure photographer?

Originally, I wanted to be a sports photographer and photograph the big events like the Olympics or Rugby World Cup, but over time, my passion changed into adventure photography. I fell out of love with sports photography as it became more about the immediacy of images and not so much about the creativity. I was only ever working as a stringer photographer, which left me a lot of time to shoot for myself, and naturally, I was curious about adventure, and as my love of adventure grew, so did my photography. In mid-2011, I suffered a heavy paragliding accident in Pakistan, and this became the catalyst in my life where I decided it was now or never to see if I could make it as a full-time adventure photographer. I’ve never looked back.

Courtesy Adventure Reels

Have you always possessed an adventurous streak?

Growing up on the Sunshine Coast, QLD, I was always outdoors playing, and I believe I’ve always carried that adventurous streak. From reading National Geographic magazines as a kid, I was always blown away by the images around the world, and perhaps that is how my curiosity was sparked to seek out the world around me.

You’ve photographed a variety of extreme sports. Is there one in particular that you enjoy doing?

I call myself an adventure photographer because I never wanted to become a niche photographer such as being known as a surf photographer or a ski photographer. I find every year it’s always different as I move through the different sports depending on what locations I find myself in and the season, and with that, the sports I enjoy personally are rock climbing, free-diving, skiing and mountaineering.

Tell us about your short film The Mysteries?

The vision came to Krystle Wright in a dream: a bird’s-eye view of BASE jumpers in flight over a stark desert landscape. When she awoke, the adventure photographer resolved to make that vision into reality. And with that, the dream turned into an obsession — one that led her on a four-and-a-half-year journey of failed attempts, uncooperative weather, disappointments and inward examination. The Mysteries follows a tenacious, and perhaps crazy, quest to chase down an elusive image and provides a glimpse into the kind of singular passion that drives people to reach their goals, regardless of what stands in the way. (A blurb from Krystle)

Courtesy Adventure Reels

What kept you motivated over the four and half years it took to get that elusive shot of a BASE jumper mid-flight?

I was always taught to finish what you start, and I’m so glad that I did see this project through. It could’ve been so easy to walk away, but having that drive kept me intrigued and motivated to come back again and again. It’s a bit like a rock climber working a route where they keep falling and falling but one day, will complete it. I think I loved having that excuse of coming back to Moab as it gave me direction in a time in my life where I was reinventing myself as a full-time adventure photographer, and Moab became my safety net. When the project was over, I never anticipated that I would feel somewhat depressed because that direction for so long was taken away from me, and I no longer had that excuse to bring me back to Moab. It took me many months to learn how to process this journey and everything I had invested emotionally, mentally and financially.

Courtesy Adventure Reels

What experience are you yet to check off the bucket list?

The list is certainly a long one as there’s so much to do! I wouldn’t know where to start, but I know that I would love to explore wild and wonderful places like skiing in far East Siberia or free-diving off the coast of Dominica.

Do you have any advice for budding adventure photographers?

It takes an incredible amount of patience and perseverance! A friend once told me that it would take ten years before people would know my name. And it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by a statement, but the main point is to enjoy the journey, even the ups and downs. Any career takes time to build, and rather let your focus be on the reward or recognition, instead work hard and produce the work you are proud of and don’t be afraid to put yourself out there time and time again and accept criticism that can help you evolve and grow. Don’t forget to have fun because that’s why we get into this type of profession in the first place, and it’s really simple as that.