Matty Hannon, Lowepro Storyteller, adventure filmmaker and photographer, spent 2.5 years on the road, traveling and capturing content from the North Coast of Alaska to the Southern tip of Argentina. Below he shares his story – and the crucial role the right gear played along the way.
As an adventure filmmaker & photographer, I sometimes feel a little conflicted.
Sure it’s a great sounding title, and I definitely consider myself lucky to have experienced what I have. I also truly believe in the power of a still or motion picture to help change the way we think. But sometimes (usually after yet another piece of gear failure) I find myself questioning the camera world.
Don’t get me wrong – I love cameras – but to me they’re just a techy tool for something far more important than photography. They’re our modern medium to communicate important stories that inspire integrity, social change and ecological conservation.
You never know who you’re going to share breakfast with whilst living out of tent. Photo: Matty Hannon
The main thing I find vexing (and counter-intuitive to nature based work), are the all-too-often products that end up redundant, obsolete, or just breaking when they shouldn’t. Maybe it’d be different if I was a studio photographer or narrative filmmaker, but for those of us who choose a more rugged and dusty approach to the craft, this is a reality you’ll know all too well.
Stiff winds + giant sweel = clouds of corrosive sea spray for the camera gear. Photo: Heather Hillier
Working with cameras, laptops, phones, hard drives, batteries, adaptors and a million tangled cables can sometimes feel like you’re suffocating under a blanket of engineered obsolescence. The wasteful philosophy beckoning like a siren on the rocks, drawing us into the inevitable fate of bug-ridden updates, ‘not-included’ accessories, and the ever-unattainable ‘latest model’.
Early morning in Patagonia. Photo: Matty Hannon
In 2011, I bought a bag. I used it when I needed to be light and portable for commercial jobs around Australia or Asia.
Fast-forward to 2014 and the bag was still as good as new. So I decided to use it as the primary protection and transport for my camera gear on my biggest project to date. Shortly afterwards, I set off on a wild adventure spanning the length of the Americas, via motorcycle and horseback, for 2.5 years. I met my amazing partner Heather Hillier halfway through, and in many ways the journey has changed both of our lives.
Heather left a comfortable life back home in BC, to join me on the road, in a tent and atop 4 horses – I think her decision really sums what it takes to truly follow your heart and your dreams and to let life take it’s own course. I had planned this journey for 1 year prior, for Heather, it was a total spur of the moment decision. Together we rode from Mexico to Argentina interviewing inspiring individuals for our film, surfing our brains out, climbing mountains and generally trying to learn and live life to the fullest.
2.5 years – from the top to the bottom, on a bike and a few horses.
From the north coast of Alaska, to the southern tip of Argentina – and almost everywhere in between. Ice, humidity, wind, sand, water, searing sun, mountains, glaciers, canoes, horses, motorbikes… my Lowepro bag has seen it all.
Heather and I had boxes and trailers on our bikes to carry all our gear. Somewhere in the depths of it is my bag.
Here Heather is setting up the tent. This was a typical end to the day, with my Lowepro bag sitting in the dirt (bottom left) in between the horses or the motorbikes. Photo: Matty Hannon
I can’t really elaborate too much on what the adventure encompassed here, but what I can tell you, is that humble little bag, something that I never gave a second thought to, was one of the few items to survive the ordeal. And in hindsight, also one of the most integral.
I thrashed it and trashed it, far beyond what would constitute normal or even heavy use – and somehow it held up (and miraculously my camera gear has too). I love the idea that by investing in a quality bag, I am rewarded with longevity, reliability and integrity in even the toughest of scenarios.
– Matty Hannon
About Matty Hannon:
His personal work investigates ideas behind the human condition and the natural world we inhabit, aiming to inspire hope and connection to the outdoors.
He grew up across 5 continents and speaks English, Spanish, Indonesian and basic Mentawai.
An accomplished surf-explorer: he has lived and worked amongst remote shamanic communities of Indonesia; backpacked around the world; surfed big waves; surfed really cold waves; has a decade of experience surfing the Mentawai Islands; crossed the Australian continent via the Outback; rode a motorcycle from Alaska to Argentina; and completed a 6-month independent horseback journey through Chile; and has surfed from Alaska to Patagonia – the length of the American Pacific coastline.
Currently based in Tofino, British Columbia.