Rock Climbing Photography with Dan Lubbers

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My little sister is headed to college this fall and while this is a point of consternation for me I guess it was inevitable.  Like any good freshman entering a program in graphic design she will be sporting a brand new laptop.  Now one thing my sister is damned good at is chatting.  I mean she can talk and talk and talk like, well, an 18 year old girl.

While picking out her new computer she started chatting it up with Dan Lubbers who she found out is a sports photographer who has published some stuff for La Sportiva, Prana, Misty Mountain and of course the ever popular, extreme sports sponsor Red Bull.  He has also had images published in Rock & Ice, Climbing, Urban Climber, Dead Point and National Geographic Adventure which is pretty amazing to me.

For the last two years I have been a cubical dweller that has survived quite a few days by daydreaming about living “the life” as a freelance rock climbing photographer.  Granted, these are just daydreams because you, me and the rest of the world know my photography is mediocre on its best days but after spending way too much time in a cubical you have to delude yourself a little to not go completely crazy.

Anyways, I digress.  Dan Lubbers has some good stuff albeit mostly bouldering oriented but some good stuff nonetheless.  He is based out of Louisville, which makes the Red River Gorge his native stomping grounds, and for the southeast I can’t think of a better place to call home.  I had the chance to catch up with him and besides being an all around chill guy he shared these words of wisdom:

“In my opinion it doesn’t really matter what camera you are shooting with if you don’t know the concept of light and composition. Mainly lighting. Without light, there is no image in which to photograph.”

While that last part sounds fairly obvious it is actually quite thought provoking if you let it sink in.

A while back I wanted to start creating pictures that were better than butt shots with a point and shoot.  So in true amateur fashion I focused on buying the best DSLR body I could afford because that is what I thought was important.  Instantly my photography improved but it wasn’t because of the camera’s abilities but rather because it forced me to look through the camera and frame the shot.  In other words I started worrying about framing, which is a part of composition.  At this point my photography was still terrible but was composed slightly better.

A few months later I once again wanted to improve my photography and bought a new moderately priced lens.  It helped a bit but in the end I was still left with mediocre pictures because I was shooting without thinking about lighting.  Now figuring out how I am going to think about light is going to be tricky and to be honest I have no idea how it is going to work.  What I do know is I am going to start worrying a little bit more about exposure and color and a little bit less on the quality of my camera.

Dan was kind enough to share the posted pic of Eric Gifford cruising a V6 problem called Splash at Muscatatuck in Indiana.  Eric runs the site and has some bouldering shots that make my fingers hurt just looking at them.

So in an effort to spread good Karma, here’s to you Dan Lubbers, may your photos continue to captivate the throngs of amateur climber/shooters everywhere.

Dan Lubbers Portfolio

  1. This film takes me back to my own wolf experience. On my 5th visit to Yellowstone in 2007, I had the thrill & honor to photograph a wolf & her 4 pups. It was amazing! For close to an hour & a half, I photographed pups playing just across from me in a small body of water. My finger did not leave the shutter.I took over 400 photos & was still shaking from adrenaline 5 hours later. I never thought I would see a wild wolf for more than a few seconds. This might have been a once in a lifetime experience. I truly hope not. But if it was, I am still honored to have experienced something few people will ever be able to. This film brought back the excitment of that day to me. Thank you for a beautiful & intimate look into the lives of these awesome wolves.