Le meilleur des cordes

© Escalade Alsace
Yann Corby

Questions by David Hollinger

Jason Bagby is an american photographer. Last december, he provided escalade-alsace.com some nice pictures of Nina Caprez in the classic route Spank the monkey at Smith Rock. A good opportunity for us to ask him a few questions to know a little bit more about Jason and his work.

[Jason working - Picture : Rick Baraff]

Escalade-Alsace : Hello Jason ! Where are you from ? Where did you grow up ?

Jason : I grew up in a sleepy small town just north of Birmingham, Alabama. At the age of 23 I moved to California where I lived for 13years. A 7 year stint in Austin, Tx came next and now finally I live in Beautiful Bend,OR with my lovely wife and two dogs. Boone and Bella.

EA : Can you describe us a little bit the country (the state) you live in ?

Jason: Oregon is one of the most amazing scenic states in the Pacific Northwest. We have a little bit of everything here. The beautiful Pacific Ocean. The Cascade Mountain Range a lush forest which transition to a beautiful Arid High Desert. Oregon has so much to offer the outdoor enthusiasts. It's truly an outdoor playground for just about any activity you could want to pursue. We moved to Bend, OR for the access to this amazing scenery.

[Painted Hills, Oregon - Picture : Jason Bagby]

EA : When and how did you start photography ?

Jason : Well, I've travelled a lot over the last 20 years. I've been to over 50 countries and photography has always been a part of my adventures. For a very long time I focused primarily on journalistic photography. However in the last year or so I've been focusing more on commercial and professional adventure photography. I recently got the cover of Climbing in Dec and I have an article and photos coming out in ROCK and ICE next month.

[Climbing Cover and 3rd place in the VIMFF photo contest in Vancouver - Outdoor Image - Pictures : Jason Bagby]

EA : What is your job exactly ?

Jason : I am a professional full-time adventure/lifestyle/Commercial photographer with a strong emphasis on Climbing and outdoor brands.

EA : What's in your Camera bag ? Which camera(s) ? Which lenses ?

Jason : I absolutely love the new Sony series of mirrorless cameras. I shoot with the A6000 and the A7R2. They are small, lightweight, durable and capture amazing images. I shoot primarily with a 16-35 wide angle lens for landscapes. I carry a 16-70 when I climb as it offers a nice wide to medium zoom range and occasionally I'll also carry a 70-200 if I know I'm not going to be able to get as close as I want to my subjects. It really depends on the situation but if I had to have just one lens I think it would be the 16-70F.4 by Carl Zeiss.

EA : How did you met Nina (Caprez ndlr.) ?

Jason : Its really quite funny. I've been photographing Ted Kingsnorth from the UK attempting "Just Do It" (5.14D) at Smith Rock for the last couple of years. Ted's an amazing person and climber and he's so close. So I'm out at Smith and I'm shooting Ted and up rocks Nina Caprez with a crew of Euro's in tow. She and her group were so stoked to be at Smith and they were super impressed with at bold route called Spank the monkey (5.13d) that climbed an impressive arête of the Monkey's Face just right of the route Ted was working on. So naturally being a photographer and not wanting to pass up an amazing opportunity I asked if I could shoot some photos of them climbing. At the time I didn't realize what a big deal it would eventually turn out to be. Nina and I quickly became friends and I spent a good deal of time photographing her at Smith over the course of the next several weeks. As luck would have it, some of the images that I took of her on her first visit to Smith have been picked up by the likes of Petzl, Arc'Teryx and Scarpa USA. We recently published a story on Arc'Teryx website about Nina's ascent of Spank the monkey.

EA : How did she manage her evolution into this classic route ?

Jason : The Arc'Teryx story really sums up her progression on this route but to summarize here, Nina climbs in a very bold style. She is confident on the ground and even more confident when climbing. I'll never forget the moment when she was climbing the route and I thought for sure she was going to redpoint but very unexpectedly a foothold broke and Nina went for easily a 15 meter fall. I thought to myself ok that's it. She's done for the day. I mean honestly who would get back on the route after taking such a massive whipper? But to my surprise she took a nice long rest while I jugged a fixed line to the top of the route and less than two hours later she was smiling happily at the chains. She had successfully redpointed the route and I was there to capture it in all it's glory. I just knew that we had captured a special moment together. We were both grinning ear to ear.

[Nina, Spank the monkey 5.13d - Pictures : Jason Bagby]

EA : Are you a climber or do you practice other sports ?

Jason : Yes, I’m an avid rock and mountain climber, Mountain biker and skier. I spend every chance I can outdoors with my wife and dogs.

EA : Have you ever travelled to Europe ?

Jason :Oh yes, I absolutely love Europe and have travelled extensively across Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Austria and Croatia as part of a 18 month sabbatical that I took in 2004/05. Last year I spent almost 2 months travelling around Italy with good friends climbing in the Dolomites.
On that trip I also went to Brento to photograph the base jumpers there. I'm the last professional photographer to have photographed Russian base Jumper Ratmir Niimyanov who was recently killed in a base jumping accident in Chamonix on Oct 3rd 2016.

[Base-jumpers, Arco, Italy - Pictures : Jason Bagby]

EA : Last question but not least : How is the election of Donald Trump perceived by the American rock climbing community nowadays ?

Jason : Wow, this is such a polarizing question. I won't try to speak for the climbing community. Personally, I'm against Trump and everything he stands for and I don't know how we got to this time and place where bigotry, hatred are favoured over equality and diplomacy. Again, I can't speak for the climbing community at large but I do know that my climbing partners and the community that I'm surrounded by overwhelming support equality and fairness.

Congratulations and Thanks a lot Jason for the work you produced. We wish you the best for 2017 and for your career.