At LARQ, we’re all about adventure, and we’re getting out there this summer in a safe and distant manner. Escaping into nature can be the reset you need. But don’t just take it from us. This week, Washington state-based outdoorsman, photographer, activist, and writer–Mason Strehl gives us a look through his lens at adventures.
Mason’s work really captures the beauty of the places he’s traveled, and makes you feel like you are right there in it. He’s living the dream, on the road, traveling to gorgeous sites right in our own backyard.
How would you describe yourself and what you do in 5 words or less?
I’m an outdoorsman, photographer, activist, and writer.
How did you get started in photography? What most interested you about shooting landscapes and nature?
I got started in photography about 8 years ago. I grew up in central Alaska, so I was always surrounded by incredible nature. I’ve always loved adventuring, so eventually, I found myself with a camera in hand documenting my trips. Backpacking, canoeing, skiing, where I started and it’s moved further into surfing, mountaineering, packrafting, and more. Shooting in the outdoor landscapes and being in nature have always held my heart, and it’s always what I go back to.
How would you describe your photography style? How has it changed over the years?
I try not to define my style, I think it puts up unnecessary borders in the work you allow yourself to do. My editing style usually keeps consistent, but I try to vary my subjects and how I shoot as I learn. Photography is incredible in that there is always a new area to push into, whether it be studio work, portraits, extreme sports, etc. So yes, my style has changed over the years as I’ve expanded and taken on new projects in different realms.
Tell us about one of your favorite outdoor adventures. What made this trip memorable?
One of my favorite outdoor adventures was my three months in Patagonia last spring. We stayed in hostels only about 10 nights the whole trip and spent the rest of the time trekking long trips by icefields, massive glaciers, mountains, beautiful rivers, and lots of wildlife. I think we ended up doing over 500 miles of walking in that time.
The weather down there made it interesting – massive wind storms would send winds that could knock you over, and rain made many days tough and cold. But the adventure was there, and a lot of new culture and experience. I think the most memorable and life-changing thing about that trip was just realizing how little you need to live happily. We had everything we needed for 3 months strapped to our backs and felt like we could do anything.
What’s in your camera bag right now?
Gear usually ends up getting in the way of creativity, so I actually have very little in my camera bag. I shoot with a Canon 5D Mk IV and a 24-70 most of the time and my only other lens is a Canon 100-400. Aside from that, a bunch of batteries, snacks, and my LARQ water bottle for hydrating on the go.
What do you like to do in your free time (when you’re not shooting)?
I like to read, write, design, roast coffee, and sit in the sun with a nice view.
How do you stay hydrated on the go?
I’m usually terrible at hydrating. When I’m hiking I try to carry as little water as possible to save weight, but try to stop at every stream to drink and purify water. Since getting the LARQ, it’s allowed me to do this much easier – it’s a compact and light bottle that purifies quickly.
Tell us something about yourself that might surprise people.
I helped direct a Netflix Documentary about Hip Hop music! It’s called Underdogs.
What kind of causes or nonprofits do you support? Why are they important to you?
Love this question, I think we need more giving in this world. I support Leave No Trace, I’m carbon negative through a nonprofit called Cool Effect, I give regularly to the National Resources Defense Council and the Environmental Defense Fund, the Sierra Club, and the Access Fund. Planned Parenthood and the Yellowhammer fund are great nonprofits supporting women’s rights. Recently, I’ve been focused on nonprofits helping with inequality and injustices in the black community and am supporting Colors of Change, NAACP, and the Minnesota Freedom Fund. For coronavirus relief, Direct Relief is my go-to – it gets PPE to doctors in need. I’ve also donated to Native American tribes that are especially deeply affected such as the Southern Utah Paiute tribe and the Navajo Nation.
Lastly, my absolute favorite Nonprofit is the ACLU – they do a wide variety of issues and fight them legally, one of the most effective ways to bring change. They’re fighting cases of police brutality and discrimination, they fight for women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, they fight for access to healthcare and voting rights. They do so much at the local and national level.
If you’re looking to donate, take a look at some of these – they have low admin costs so most of your donation will go to fighting for the causes!
What do you like most about what you do?
I like the freedom. Most of my work is remote, so it allows me to travel and spend most of my time in nature.
Name 3 of your favorite locations you’ve shot. Why were these your favorite?
Patagonia – Breathtaking scenery, rugged landscapes, and incredibly kind and fun people.
Washington – So many trails and the rugged North Cascade mountains. So much to do, so little time.
Alaska – My home will always hold a special place in my heart. One of the most beautiful places in the world.
What is your dream location to shoot? Why?
I don’t really have one. I guess I’m content to just keep exploring the places I love and seeing them in a new light. I’d love to go back to Patagonia, but just as happy in Washington.
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live? Why?
Right where I’m at in Washington. With a little summer cabin in Alaska. That’s all I need.
What are 5 things you can’t live without?
Water, food, sleep… haha! Just kidding. I love my books, my camera, nature, my 98 Tacoma, and my few good friends.
Check out Mason’s work on Instagram @masonstrehl or at his website.