December 31, 2015 by Eric Hanson General, Photography, Travel 8

2015 Year in Review

2015 Year in Review

2015 is a year I will cherish. It was chock full of adventure, growth, challenges, and rewards. Personally, it was my most daring year, full of the most unknowns and risks. And in many ways, the year turned out better than I could have hoped for.

Cuernos

The Cuernos of Torres del Paine, Chilean Patagonia

It’s been more than a year since I have earned a traditional paycheck. And I suppose my three years of work in wilderness therapy barely constitute a “traditional” paycheck, but it was income I could count on. 2015 was my year to take my grand leap, or as Jeff Goins would say, my year of building a bridge into my future. When I left for Ecuador in February on a one-way ticket, I didn’t know when, or if, I would return.

Early light on Cerro Castillo, Patagonia

Early light on Cerro Castillo, Patagonia

I had been dreaming of a long adventure through South America for several years. I wanted to consider the possibility that I might remain in South America indefinitely, if it worked out that way. The point was, I didn’t want to have constraints upon my experience. I wanted to let the story unfold before me, rather than check off my pre-planned adventures from a check list.

A night in the Atacama Desert, the world's best stargazing location.

A night in the Atacama Desert, the world’s best stargazing location.

I thought it highly likely that I would return to the US with an empty bank account, and that money would be the deciding factor on when I would return.

Overlooking the bizarre and beautiful Vinicunca in Peru.

Overlooking the bizarre and beautiful Vinicunca in Peru.

As I mulled my decision to go to South America, I kept coming back to a few phrases I often repeat to myself when I get concerned that perhaps I am making “unwise” decisions. That perhaps there are more prudent ways of living, and that I risk too much.

“Fortune favors the bold.” I call upon this mantra ever since I spent a month riding a bicycle through death-defying intersections in Cambodia.

And In the wise words of Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians, “No risk-it, no biscuit.”

Sunrise at 19,973 feet, from the summit of Hauyna Potosi, Bolivia.

Sunrise at 19,973 feet, from the summit of Hauyna Potosi, Bolivia.

I figured if I was willing to do something bold within the confines of pursuing the life I wanted to live, then good things would happen. And many good things did happen, that I could not have pre-planned.

  • I was able to work with the Discovery Channel on a television show about my experiences surviving a flash flood.
  • The Imax theater in Springdale, Utah showed my climbing and canyoneering film Rock of Refuge twice a day for seven months.
  • I was invited to shoot with Mountain Safety Research on a product shoot in the Cordillera Blancas of Peru, my first major shoot of its kind.
  • I was invited to be a contributing photographer and videographer with Getty Images, the largest and most respected stock agency.
  • I established relationships with Gear Junkie, an online publication of all things outdoor adventure, and have been able to publish a number of articles with them.
  • I was invited to be a part of Overland Collective, a small group of photographers, videographers, graphic designers, and journalists to grow a business together within the outdoor lifestyle.
Lago Amarga. Don't drink this water. I learned too late "amarga" means bitter.

Lago Amarga. Don’t drink this water. I learned too late “amarga” means bitter.

In many ways, my adventures through South America helped lay a foundation for the coming years as I move forward in a career in photography, videography, and writing. My hope is that 2016 is also full of adventure. And that it will be another step forward in the life I desire to live.

Pico Tres, one of many incredible peaks in Peru.

Pico Tres, one of many incredible peaks in Peru.

Even though I desire to grow in this business, to generate more income and to create higher quality art, it’s important for me to remember that this is still a journey. The rewards of this pursuit are not the income or the recognition I may or may not receive, but in the pursuit itself. That simply by working towards my goals in a way that feels authentic and genuine to who I am, that alone is all the rewards I need. I certainly hope to not starve or to go bankrupt, but I also know that I do not need a lucrative income to be happy.

The Milky Way over the desert landscape of Argentinean wine country.

The Milky Way over the desert landscape of Argentinean wine country.

In fact, if I have a place to pitch my tent, a campfire to keep me warm, a landscape to inspire me, and a group of people I care about, I can be happy.

A train of llamas looking for grazing land, in the Ausungate mountain range

A train of llamas looking for grazing land, in the Ausungate mountain range

If at any point, my adventures through South America inspired you, or you felt a spark of longing for some pursuit in life, I hope you take some time to consider what that might mean for you. We all have risks we could take, I hope you take some time to contemplate what that might look like for you. Go ahead and dream a little dream.

Women in Bolivia sift red quinoa, as the wind carries away the chaff.

Women in Bolivia sift red quinoa, as the wind carries away the chaff.

My 2016 looks to be poised for more adventure. I am incredibly excited to continue this journey. I look forward to continuing to share it with you.

Cheers to you and Happy New Year.

Incredible colors emerge over the Atacama Desert at sunset.

Incredible colors emerge over the Atacama Desert at sunset.

 

Photographer, filmmaker, journalist, adventurer. I'm somewhere, maybe Flagstaff, AZ.

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8 comments on this post

  1. dan waits

    says:
    December 31, 2015

    Beautiful pics -quite a year – it should be very interesting what God does with you this year 😉

    Reply
    • Eric Hanson

      says:
      December 31, 2015

      Thanks Dan! I’m really looking forward to finding out what’s in store for next year.

      Reply
  2. Stephen Robinson

    says:
    December 31, 2015

    Great article man, I had no idea the number of success you experienced this year!! Also, amazing job with growing your Instagram audience, I look forward to seeing more stunning pics in the future.

    It was a pleasure to spend a week or so with you in Bolivia climbing Hyuana Potosi, and here’s to the next one!

    Cheers

    Reply
    • Eric Hanson

      says:
      December 31, 2015

      Thanks Stephen, climbing Potosi was one of my favorite experiences of the whole trip for me. I will always remember our crew and crazy “Super” Mario. I look forward to learning more whacky things from you.

      Reply
  3. Seth Barnes

    says:
    December 31, 2015

    It’s been a beautiful year. So glad you captured it. This was the year that we really got to see your talent showing forth.

    Reply
    • Eric Hanson

      says:
      December 31, 2015

      Thanks Seth. I always appreciate your thoughts.

      Reply
  4. Kristin

    says:
    January 6, 2016

    Sounds like an awesome year! Good luck on your new opportunities!

    Reply
  5. Terry Johnson

    says:
    February 13, 2016

    Thanks so much for sharing these amazing adventures via your fabulous photography!
    I really feel like I’m right there. Just breathtakingly beautiful!

    Reply

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