Frontier of Firsts


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The Production

In the fall of 2016, Todd Wells and a team of kayakers set off to paddle three first descents in Lake Clark National Park. Each river would require 5-7 days to complete. While whitewater, wildlife, weather, and the greater unknown all played into the success of the expedition, everything hinged on our bush pilot's ability to get the team in and out of the target rivers. Jay Mahan, a Charlotte native turned Alaskan bush pilot, played a critical roll in the expedition. 

During the 6 weeks we were in Alaska, I spent a considerable amount of time with Jay and Todd. During that time, similarities in their respective passions emerged; Jay for flying and Todd for kayaking.  Frontier of Firsts attempts to compare these two passions. 

Environmental factors made shooting this piece difficult. For example, on top of all the other gear that is required to pull of a multi-day first descent in Alaska, I had an old FS700, several lenses, and a steady cam wedged between my legs in my kayak. Even in dry bags, everything including sleeping bags, dry clothes, notebooks, and cameras became soaking wet. Even with such challenges, shooting this piece was one of the most memorable experiences of my life.