I moved north in 1978, fell into a life of commercial fishing, trapping, dog mushing and cut a lot of firewood to feed the woodstove in my white wall canvas tent. My wife, Cheryl, was a lifelong Alaskan, and we met in 1980 when she hired me to fish in her new venture,a salmon fishing operation on a remote Aleutian island. We lived in a wall tent, fished in an open skiff, and I came to recognize a companion that I wanted for the rest of my life. We were a couple by the time we hit the mainland in autumn, and after a winter of mushing dogs and running traplines in the Brooks Range, we married. Even before we met, Cheryl packed a manual Olympus, a couple of lenses and Kodachrome. In the late 1980s we lugged a VHS-C video camera with us and captured footage of resident foxes, whales, bears, wolves, caribou–the ever-changing sea and the storms. The years have rolled on since our first days together on that windswept beach, but our mutual quest to collect strong imagery, dig hard for the right words and churn out compelling stories has never waned. We spend our best days afoot with our cameras, playing in the light of Alaska’s drama. Our evenings are warmed by fire and wine, and we review, edit and color our shots. With each new dawn comes the unfolding of an unwritten scene, in a story of our making, as we live together in our words and our imagery.
I love capturing moments, whether it is the sunset or sunrise, fall, winter, spring or summer. Alaska is ripe with photographic opportunity; our mountains, flowers, the sea, critters, people, old buildings and history require that I always have my camera ready. Hardly a day goes by without some drama to catch. One thing I can always count on is the ever changing weather, clouds and seasons. My favorite time to shoot is when I am in the mountains or on the sea, by myself, taking my time to enjoy the beauty of each moment. People, bridges, and cities blend in with the elements of our everyday lives. I love to capture the business to the serene! Photos capture life and moments that we can stop and enjoy for a long time and can give us peace and enjoyment and appreciation of our surroundings.
Feel free to browse my photography. I hope you find the bit of Alaskana you’re looking for -Cheryl Ess