Essay
Tue 06 Mar 2018 - 12.00

A Young Person Recommends... On High: The Adventures of Legendary Mountaineer, Photographer and Scientist Brad Washburn

On High: The Adventures of Legendary Mountaineer, Photographer, and Scientist Brad Washburn is not your average photography book. It is about a journey of Bradford Washburn, who was a photographer and mountaineer. His work mainly consists of the use of aerial photography of mountains in Alaska.

On High features several phases of the life of Bradford Washburn, the book starts off with his personal background and explores how and why he chose to combine mountaineering and photography.

The style of this book alternates between two narratives: a first person account from Washburn and a third person analysis from author Donald Smith. Together, both of these narratives are able to give us a personal touch, from Washburn’s point of view, as well as an informative element from Smith. 

A majority of the photographs that are found in this book are of course Washburn’s sublime photography of mountains, for example most of the focus was on his time in Alaska. Alongside this, photographs of Washburn’s personal life photographic documentation of his journeys are also included to give us a visual sense of what Washburn would have experienced.

In addition, all photography in this book is in black and white, which perhaps adds a very simple and elegant tone; this is what particularly drew me to these photographs. Upon viewing the photographs, there is a very awe-inspiring, calming and even a spiritual sensation.

What heavily drew me towards this book was wanting to know and learn about the journey that Washburn had gone through in order to take these photographs: the risks, the planning of his journey and the amount of time it must have taken him to complete his expedition. So perhaps it’s the story behind each one of these photographs that intrigues me about Washburn’s works. After viewing this book, and seeing the incredible journey behind some of these photographs it has inspired me and taught me to seek beauty in the natural world that is around us.

— Karman Siu