Sports - 25/09/2013

Meet ECCO Ambassador Michael Clark

Meet ECCO Ambassador Michael Clark

A veteran adventure sports photographer, Michael Clark has traveled the world capturing action sport athletes from big wave surfers in Hawaii to ocean divers in Chile. On any given day, he could be dangling off a cliff, bobbing in the ocean dodging monster waves or at a desk preparing his newest photography book. It’s all part of the job description for Michael, who has made a career out of his passions.

ECCO is proud to have Michael as part of #TeamBIOM as he shares images of his incredible adventures the world over.

First things first, tell us a bit about what you do?
The technical term would be that I’m an adventure sports photographer. I photograph a wide variety of adventure sports. I started out as a climbing and mountaineering photographer then branched into other adventure sports to broaden my portfolio. Now I shoot everything from mountain biking to skiing to surfing. There really aren’t many sports that I haven’t shot. I’m one of the few guys out there who’s kind of done it all. I also teach photography workshops and have written a few books. I guess I get bored easily.

Did an interest in the outdoors lead you to photography, or was it the other way around?
A little bit of both actually. My story goes back to when I was three years old and drew a quarter on an envelope perfectly photographically real. From then on I was in art classes. I really got into photography and studied it in depth in junior high and even interned with a professional. Then I went to college to study physics and forgot all about shooting photos. When I started climbing, it brought me back to photography. It was a melding of passions really – my passion for climbing and my passion for taking pictures.

What is the most difficult sport you have photographed?
Physical difficulty wise, there’s nothing more difficult that I’ve photographed than climbing. You’re carrying an 80-100 pound pack with climbing equipment, ropes and camera gear. Sometimes you are able to approach from the top and rappel down but otherwise you have to climb. You could work for hours setting up a position just to shoot for 15 minutes. Sometimes you’re totally exhausted and have to push it an extra 10 or 15 percent to really get the image you have in your head. That’s the difference between being just another adventure sports photographer or one of the guys at the top of the pack.

Your job is considered by many to be a “dream job.” Was it a dream of yours? Is it still a dream?

When I was 16 I wanted to be a tennis player, a photographer or an astronaut. I played tennis six to seven hours a day in high school, only to find out that that I wasn’t good enough. An astronaut… that just didn’t happen. So it was always a dream of mine to be a photographer. I’ve been doing it for 18 years and it’s been an amazing ride. I’ve been to some of the most remote places on earth and seen some of the most amazing feats that humans are capable of, so I can’t complain at all. People don’t understand what it takes to make this happen. The actual shooting is probably 10% of what I do. The rest of the time I’m doing other things like editing or marketing images to finish the previous job or get the next job. But still it’s an amazing way to live. I feel like I have an incredibly privileged life. To be able to have your passion be your work, it doesn’t feel like work.

What advice do you have for aspiring outdoor photographers?

If they really want to make it on a professional level or just make amazing images, they’re going to have to want it more than anything else. It takes serious passion for the sport and for photography. They have to give up a lot to make it happen. And they’re going to have to have some talent, not a lot but a little bit. A lot of it is just hard work, that’s what it comes down to.