Jodie Evans (BA (hons) Photography, class of 2020) has managed to combine two of her passions in life as a climbing photographer. A very unique talent which results in breath taking images.
Jodie talks to us below about how she began her climbing journey and how flexible working as a freelancer can be as a creative person.
Tell us about your journey since graduating?
My journey since graduating has been a tough one! I graduated during the pandemic which made it rather difficult to jump into a creative job. The pandemic wasn’t all bad however, as I did win a climbing photography award. This was a huge achievement for both my work and my confidence as working in the outdoor photography industry isn’t easy. I've had many jobs after lockdown like being an outdoor retail supplier and surf photographer.
Until recently I was a media executive for a marketing firm based in Cardiff, but unfortunately it wasn’t what I was seeking long term. This provided me with the opportunity to get back to photography after taking such a long break from my passion. I left Cardiff for the sunny Pembrokeshire coast which has allowed me to focus on my photography, especially climbing with my partner and our friends. I now work in the creative industry of screen printing and embroidery. I work alongside a team of artists to print garment designs for a range of local and regional businesses. The unique side of our company is that we choose to champion more alternative and quirky brands and designs.
You’ve combined two of your passions, when did you realise that you wanted to photograph climbers?
When I was 17 I started working at my local sports centre which also featured a climbing wall. Whilst working there the manager taught me to climb. One day he had an idea for a photo to support an event we were having at the climbing wall. The photo consisted of us rigging a table and chairs to hang from the side of the wall half way up. We then took some photos of people sat in the chairs at the table, and my interest continued to snowball from there. I started photographing the local competitions and people began showing an interest in my work.
Where are your favourite places to climb and where would you like to go?
I really love climbing in Snowdonia. When you get to the top of a climb there the views are stunning. Especially as these are normally areas that no one else can get to except for climbers. With climbing you feel like you’re really having to work for that magnificent view at the end. My dream climbing and photography location would have to be the Lofoten islands in northern Norway. The islands consist of utterly spectacular granitic cliffs rising up to 1000m straight from the ocean, beautifully shaped by millions of years of glacial and marine erosion. As it’s within the Arctic circle there is 24hr day light in the summer and presents a unique opportunity for photographing some incredible scenes.
What are the difficulties around being a climbing photographer?
I could write a really long list on this question - there are honestly so many!
Lighting is always a struggle, shooting indoors and out. This is especially true when your hanging off the edge of a cliff and trying to coordinate the ebbing daylight with your climbers progress on the route. You really don’t have much of an area to move around in either as you often have to abseil in and hang there statically on a rope hoping that you’ve picked the right spot for your climbers. It’s always incredibly stressful trying to sort out your camera settings and lenses whilst trying to make sure you’re still anchored in correctly and safe. Another difficulty is that the outdoor photography industry is very male dominated and it's very difficult to just shine above others.
How did you take the step to become a freelancer photographer, do you have any tips or advice to fellow creatives thinking of taking the next step?
My best advice would be just take any photography job that comes your way that’s how I have gotten to where I am today. Just keep going and going even if its a job you don’t really want to do, tough it out and work for those connections and networking. And always try and make time for getting out there and experimenting with new ideas and be as creative as possible (and remember spare SD cards!)