Portraits are some of the most difficult things for me to shoot and at the same time some of my favorite. While there is a wide range of subject matter within my work the focus for has always been authenticity. Is it natural and believable? These are the same questions I ask when I shoot people. Are they smiling for the camera or is that a genuine look? If a loved one saw the images would they recognize them as being true? Natural or strobe lighting, close-up or environmental, the goal is the same.  Skylar Patten takes the bus to the ski slopes. Icefall Lodge february 2014. Camille Backman larevalo_cstlvlly_1113_0240 larevalo_cthomas_0913_0004 larevalo_egodfrey_0514_0006 larevalo_imperialeforge_0513_0035-2 larevalo_jrrich_0314_0128-Edit larevalo_mlott_0514_0053-Edit Bowe Ellis, Echo Canyon, Zion National Park, Utah.

Damn toes.

larevalo_moran14_0114_0026I have strange feet. Morton’s toe, sixth toe, fat toes, and eeee width. Usually I don’t notice them, but when it comes to putting them in climbing shoes, boots and ski boots I am well aware of them and have tried to take care. This past January I did a terrible job.

larevalo_moran14_0114_0055It was during an outing in the Tetons. We hoped to snag the first winter ascent of the Triple Glacier Route on the north side of Mt Moran. On day one our group skied across Jackson Lake and climbed up to a camp on the north shoulder. No feet problems.

larevalo_moran14_0114_0082The second day we woke to fierce winds and sub-zero temperatures (in Jackson they reported -20). Bundled to the max we made our way to the Triple Glaciers, spied a possible path from the glacier, up the snow tongue to a section of rock that connected to the upper snowfields. If we could make it there we hoped to make it to the summit. Above the glacier we wallowed in waist deep faceted snow in a 50-degree couloir. We searched for protection and positive edges in the glacially polished rock next to the couloir, but never found any. The guidebook had described the rock as unpleasant. After some back and forth and up and down, we chose to retreat. So much standing around and my toes had gone numb.

larevalo_moran14_0114_0094Going up had been relatively easy, but for my friend from California, going down was a bit more daunting. He deliberately set each of his limbs in the sugary slope. Left foot, right foot, left ice ax and right. I marched in place trying to will the blood back to my toes and spoke to him calmly about sunshine and women. I didn’t want him to rush. An accident up there was out of the question.

larevalo_moran14_0114_0140Eventually we were back on the glacier, moving, blood pumping and out of harms way. In the tent I found my toes to be white and insensitive. The next morning the big toe of my right foot was swollen. I gritted my teeth and stuffed my foot into my boot. There was only one way back to the car so I grinned and went down. It hurt.

larevalo_moran14_0114_0206The following night, in a warm bed, I didn’t sleep. My toes throbbed. Closer inspection revealed a blister beneath my big toe nail and two pea-sized white spots that eventually turned black. The rest of the toes were still numb despite being warm to the touch. This was not happiness.

Three months after the fact I finally lost the nail on my big toe and have regained sensation in all my toes. My feet may be weird, but I hope they stick around.Bare feet after a season in ski boots.

Running with Asthma

Jacki Arevalo runs Big Water and Little Water Trails, Wasatch Mountains, Utah.As a child I was told not to run. Being an asthmatic it took several attacks and a couple of visits to the emergency room to get the point across that, no, really I shouldn’t run. It was a time before rescue inhalers and treatment was simple. Be sedate. As you can imagine for a kid this is fairly impossible to do, but I did my best. Anything that put distance between the uncomfortable bouts of my body trying to suffocate itself was welcomed.

When it came to athletics I had a note from my mother excusing me from running activities at school, but when I learned that in order to receive the Presidential Physical Fitness Award you had to finish one mile in a given time I made up my mind that I would run.

Andrew Jensen running the Great Western Trail in the Wasatch Mountains, Utah.After finishing my first mile I was surprised that I hadn’t struggled to pull air into inflamed lungs. The second time I ran faster. The school course was loops around the building. Each time we ran the mile I’d increase the intensity with every lap pushing myself to the point where I couldn’t feel the asphalt beneath my feet. It felt like running in the clouds. I received the award in 5th grade and have not stopped running since.

Mindy Campbell and Andrew Jensen running in the foothills above Salt Lake City.Turned out that it wasn’t the exercise that triggered the attacks, but certain substances that irritated my lungs. I haven’t outgrown the disease, but have learned how to manage it with the right treatment and knowledge of the possible triggers. Today I rarely run on clouds, but it still feels #$%? good. Anyone want to go for a run?