Find A Photographer Find An Assistant Join ASMP Join the Mailing List
 

Best of 2010 - Matt and Agnes Hage


Intrepid photographers Matt and Agnes Hage trekked the Patagonian Andes, shooting adventure gear for multiple advertising clients. Employing each other as modeling talent and outfitted with the clients’ latest clothing and equipment, the couple completed four major photographic excursions during a ten-week trip. Shooting from first light through the dinner hour in all types of weather, they worked a half-dozen locations a day. After exhausting batteries, storage options and creative juice, they would descend to local towns to recharge, catch up on business and enjoy Malbec wine with Argentine steak.

Matt & Agnes Hage, Anchorage, AK

Web site: www.hagephoto.com

Project: Advertising work in Patagonian mountains for a number of outdoor clothing and equipment clients.

© Matt & Agnes Hage
All images in this article © Matt & Agnes Hage, HagePhoto.

ASMP: How long have you been in business?
MH:
We started collaborating as HagePhoto in 2006, so four years.

ASMP: How long have you been an ASMP member?
MH:
This is our second year.

ASMP: What are your photographic specialties?
MH:
Action and lifestyle photography for adventure recreation and adventure travel projects.

ASMP: What do you consider your most valuable piece of equipment?
MH:
Whatever we’re using at the time to connect camera and MacBook.

© Matt & Agnes Hage

ASMP: What is unique about your style and approach or what sets you and your work apart from other photographers?
MH:
Our style is clean, bright and real. Coming from an analog background in photojournalism, we produce most of our work in-camera, when it is happening. We rely on the in-camera JPEG settings to control the look or feel we want for a particular shoot. We’re not too fond of spending a lot of time in post-processing.

© Matt & Agnes Hage

ASMP: Please describe the processes and techniques central to the making of this work.
MH:
When photographing a 10-day backpacking adventure, we have to strike a balance between making miles on the trail and working locations and set-ups to our satisfaction. We usually add extra days to an outdoor field project to accommodate time spent on camera.

© Matt & Agnes Hage

ASMP: Please tell us about your clients for this shoot and the outdoor products they produce. Did you piggyback a number of clients together in order to help with production and travel costs?
MH:
Black Diamond Equipment makes some of the best climbing gear you can buy. Based in Salt Lake City, they are also known for their cutting-edge skis, packs and tents. Our focus is on their equipment for backpacking and trekking; tents, packs and trekking poles. We did piggyback work for another outdoor client, Japanese ultralight specialist MontBell, to make 10 weeks in Argentina and Chile a viable business plan. There was also time for us to produce travel stock as well as small shoots for a few other outdoor clients. We kept busy.

© Matt & Agnes Hage

ASMP: How did you pack for this assignment and how much equipment did you take? Were there any materials that you shipped in via express mail or picked up locally on arrival in South America?
MH:
All of the outdoor gear and clothing was packed into four large duffels; one for each major project. Our entry point was Mendoza, Argentina and this would also be our departure city for return to the United States. The duffel for our final project was stored at a hotel used to storing gear for climbing expeditions in the Andes. We would see this bag six weeks later. From there, we traveled south into Patagonia. Once we completed a project, that duffel was stored at our place of lodging for pick-up on our return north. This kept us from lugging all the big duffels with us for the entire time. We packed a full Nikon kit in non-camera bags plus two MacBooks and external hard drives to triple back up our work.

© Matt & Agnes Hage

ASMP: Did you need to make any special flight/travel arrangements to allow for international flights and extensive trekking with your needed equipment and products for photography?
MH:
Once in New York City, LAN Airlines didn’t like how many carry on bags we had — two each — but there was no way we were going to check the bags with camera or computer equipment. We just smiled and pleaded ignorance to their carry-on policy.

© Matt & Agnes Hage

ASMP: Describe the overall scope of assignment. What quantities and types of images were your clients looking to produce? How many shooting days were planned for your trip, and how did you allot shooting time for each client?
MH:
This was a self-directed project to photograph Black Diamond’s (BD) new line of trekking packs as well as other gear for backpacking and camping at use in fantastic locations on the classic trekking routes in Patagonia. BD’s photo editor was clear that she was looking for the packs to be used, not in a climbing capacity, but on the trails. They were looking for a body of work that would distinguish these backpacks from their line of climbing/alpine packs and bring the Black Diamond brand into the scope of recreational backpackers. We had planned three shoots for BD, each about a week in length. Over the ten weeks, for every week spent in the field, a week was spent in town, resting, working and traveling to the next location. Distances in Argentina are long!

© Matt & Agnes Hage

ASMP: Shooting on location for a number of different clients entails significant planning and investment. What kind of financial arrangements do you make for projects like this?
MH:
When working with multiple clients, we plan it, pay for it and get out and do it, and then the clients pay top dollar to license selected photography. When working with one client only, we work out the expenses with them prior to the shoot.

© Matt & Agnes Hage

ASMP: Did any of your clients provide competing products for you to shoot? What procedures do you follow to address issues like this.
MH:
We try to outfit the entire shoot with equipment and clothing from a single client. On three of our projects in Patagonia, we did Black Diamond for packs, tents, trek poles, MontBell for clothing and sleeping bags and La Sportiva for footwear.

© Matt & Agnes Hage

ASMP: While on your trek, did you deliver digital proofs to your clients for review, or maintain other continuing communication?
MH:
We would post updates to social networking and check e-mail when back in town.

ASMP: How do you find your models?
MH:
For the most part, we are our own models. The remote trigger system really does work from a quarter mile away!

© Matt & Agnes Hage

ASMP: How was the travel route planned? Were there specific locations or landmarks to be visited, or was your route more freeform?
MH:
We planned out four-week-long projects to photograph at the most popular, fantastic locations in the Andes. Our route connected the dots.

© Matt & Agnes Hage

ASMP: How fixed was your shoot list? What flexibility did you have in choosing or altering which products you would shoot in any given location?
MH:
Topics on our shoot list were kept broad to allow for us to work with what we found out on the trail. Everything needed to fit in our packs and we try to keep our backpacking kit very light to make up for the increased load of photo gear. Once we left the trailhead, we had what we had.

© Matt & Agnes Hage

ASMP: Describe a typical day in the field, including start and wrap times, locations photographed miles trekked and images produced. How did you deal with delays caused by inclement weather?
MH:
Up early to catch morning light followed by coffee and breakfast in camp. Shoot at camp for a while before hitting the trail. Work a half-dozen locations and set-ups over the day with time for surprises. We can cover over 20 miles if we motor, but we usually keep to about ten miles to allow time to shoot. Sometimes even less if we work many locations. Arrive at camp for an evening meal — usually photographed — followed by more camp shooting. Finally, wine and something sweet before crawling in for the night. We do try to work on inclement weather days; you never know how it’s going to play out in the mountains. Or we use them for a rest day.

© Matt & Agnes Hage

ASMP: Approximately how long would you spend in the field before depleting your batteries, storage options and energy? At that point, how long would it take to get back to civilization, and how long would you spend there?
MH:
Generally we find that eight days is a good limit for ourselves and our gear. But mountain trips with high altitude take longer; we were on Aconcagua for 20 days. It would take a week in town to take care of business, resupply, rest and travel to our next location. We can milk a D700 battery for four days, and compact flash cards are very lightweight. We don’t recharge or download in the field.

© Matt & Agnes Hage

ASMP: Did you suffer any technical issues or failures while out shooting in the field?
MH:
Thankfully, we didn’t have any tech issues the entire time. If something fails in the field, it gets tossed into the nearest deep, glacier lake.

ASMP: This type of shoot can be very energizing and also very draining. Tell us how you keep the creative juices flowing during your treks.
MH:
It helps to be working in locations that are just ridiculously fantastic such as Patagonia. On good days, we have this open dialog that just flows while on the trail, ideas just come up and we take time to investigate the promising ones. On a tough day, we try to take extra time to work a couple locations to break the photography block. If that’s not working, we drink lots of coffee.

© Matt & Agnes Hage

ASMP: What were the high points, and the low points, of your trip?
MH:
The high point had to be working hard to cram in four very different set-ups into a single hour of a blue-sky weather break at Fitzroy. Or, of course, reaching the summit of Aconcagua, at just shy of 7,000 meters — the highest mountain in the Andes, and our new personal record. The low point must have been Christmas Eve in a very muddy, buggy, rainy camp on the back side of Torres del Paine. Christmas day was much better after we made it into Refugio Grey where we bought each other sleeves of cookies and a box of wine.

ASMP: Did you also shoot video of your adventure, for yourself or for the client?
MH:
Agnes shot some video of me swimming an alpine lake still with ice. She enjoys showing our friends so they can hear my high pitch screams.

© Matt & Agnes Hage

ASMP: Please describe the arrangements regarding image rights. What are your usage agreements with each client? In what vehicles and forms of media have your images been used?
MH:
Black Diamond licenses each selected image separately for use in their online and print advertising as well as point of purchase. Our work from Patagonia is being used to open pages of their Web site and as print advertising in several outdoor magazines.

© Matt & Agnes Hage

ASMP: Do you have the ability to license any of the pictures made during this trip for future commercial purposes (i.e: stock licensing or other commercial applications)? What is your distribution network?
MH:
We own all the work done on these projects and will market photography shot specifically for Black Diamond to noncompeting clients after they have had ample opportunity to use them first. Our distribution network for stock photography encompasses a couple of hundred travel, outdoor and magazine clients.

© Matt & Agnes Hage

ASMP: Would you do this type of ambitious, multi-client trip again, and, if so, what would you do differently the next time?
MH:
We put together something like this every year and are currently planning extended travel and work in Nepal and Peru. We always try to do as much pre-planning as possible to keep from making costly changes to travel arrangements. But you can only do so much from the desk.

© Matt & Agnes Hage