Badlands: A type of dry terrain characterized by steep slopes, minimal vegetation, lack of substantial regolith, and high drainage density. The Badlands of Alberta, Canada are characterized by vast night skies, towering hoodoos, and the world’s richest deposits of dinosaur bones. Or, an adventure photographer’s dream come true. It’s no wonder Dax Justin, photographer and Revo Ambassador, spent his entire summer there capturing the geography, flora, and people of the area through his lens. With a packed schedule and a book of photography on the way, Dax is never in one spot for long, but we managed to catch up with him to answer some of our questions for the blog. Read the Q + A below, and then get out there and slay your own comfort zone.
Revo: How long were you involved with photography before you became a professional? Were you self-taught?
Dax Justin: I am a self-taught photographer and I'm totally just learning as I go. That being said, I think the equipment and gear only play a small part in capturing the actual moment - it's mostly about the eye.
Revo: As an adventure photographer who is always outdoors in all sorts of light conditions, what do you look for in sun protection, and how does that affect on your work?
DJ: I firmly believe the eye is the most powerful tool any photographer could have, whether it be shooting landscape, or sports/adventure photography. The camera gear plays a role of course, but in the outdoors everything is about light and timing. How I perceive a landscape is something I value greatly, and it plays into how I capture the essence of that moment. The Blue Water lenses are my favorite - I notice a slight saturation and higher contrast, and the lenses makes the landscape feel warmer. If we're being honest here I've even shot a couple photos through the lenses to show some of my friends the difference it makes. I edit photos to look like what I see through Revo lenses. But don't tell anyone that. ;)
Revo: In your opinion, what differentiates a good landscape picture from a great one?
DJ: I'd say a good landscape photo establishes setting properly. A great landscape photo not only sets up the scene but literally takes you there and makes you feel something. It brings you to a specific time and place and it can be crazy powerful and shatter your mind.
Revo: How do you choose or find your next destination?
DJ: I'd honestly have to say that unless I'm on assignment shooting for a client or brand collaboration, my explorations are completely random. I do some planning sometimes, but in my experience, I find being spontaneous and unexpected often leads to new paths and the real (un)comfort zones, which I openly invite at this stage. Beyond that, I rarely even think of exploring as having a destination - the journey is the true destination.
Revo: You have a book coming out! Tell us about its inception and the creative process.
DJ: Yes, the book! I've been exploring in the Canadian Badlands for most of Summer 2016 and as part of my on-going work in the Badlands I felt my creative output needed to be more tangible (versus solely digital content such as blog posts or social media updates). I feel the stories and people I've met in the Badlands go deeper than just digital. UNEARTHED is my first book and is about the Grit & Resiliency of the people of the Canadian Badlands. [It is] a photobook taking you on a journey to the prehistoric grounds of the Canadian Badlands, sharing captivating stories and mesmerizing photographs of the people who have made this land home. UNEARTHED will reveal, through text and imagery, the connection between people and the soil of this unique and otherworldly region. All my content will be prepared and finalized for Spring 2017. And I haven't announced this yet, but I JUST got a publisher and it will be published by Rocky Mountain Books for Spring 2018.
Revo: Are there any explorers, outdoor adventurers, or landscape photographers that you admire in particular? If so, why?
DJ: I actually have several people I look up to more than you know. These people have inspired me to literally slay my comfort zone and push myself to extremes I never anticipated. These people are (in no particular order) Mike Horn, Levison Wood, Jimmy Chin, Renan Ozturk, Les Stroud, Alex Honnold, and Conrad Anker, among several others. I find [that] consuming a heavy amount of outdoor photography and creative content online and being surrounded by some of what I feel to be the best people of life is fantastic. It makes me go harder out there.
Revo: You have to love constantly moving around in the outdoors to do your job, but does it ever get tiring? What do you do when, if ever, you need to “veg”?
DJ: Balance. I absolutely love exploring solo for several days at a time, or with a few people on expeditions. I find that it gets tiring if I do not balance my life. After you explore heavily for a few days, it can be just amazing to relax in a nice hotel room with a hot shower. One of my favorite things to do is watch movies and cartoons while destroying a pizza in my hotel room. That's how I relax. I mean, eat it bed and make a (tasteful) mess, and then have Reese's for dessert. But don't tell anyone that.
Revo: What has been your favorite destination so far to photograph?
DJ: I have spent my time over the last two years in both the Canadian Rockies and the Canadian Badlands and I'd have to say they both have my heart, but in different ways. They both have their own souls and I'm deeply attracted to both. If you follow any of my social feeds I mostly just flirt with nature all the time. My favorite location to shoot is Two Jack Lake, Banff National Park, Alberta, at sunrise. Go there before the sun comes up and you'll understand why. Also - nothing says meditative like kayaking in calm waters first thing in the morning in Jasper National Park, British Columbia, seeing fog on the water as the sun strikes the mountain, then capturing that moment.
Revo: What new Revo style are you most excited to try this Fall?
DJ: I'm looking forward to high alpine summits in the Canadian Rockies this Winter wearing the TRAVERSE.
Revo: This is a tough one. If you were stranded on ONE mountain or in ONE national park for the rest of your life, which would you choose?
DJ: Waterton Lakes National Park. First, let me tell you that I have a love relationship with Banff National Park, Yoho National Park, and the Canadian Badlands. But Waterton feels completely Jurassic. The mountains and the area's ambiance are so appealing to me I can barely describe it. Alberta as a province is so diverse in landscape it's unreal, but my visits to Waterton Lakes in Southern Alberta are never, ever long enough.