Hannah Kemp's nature photography should be mandatory desktop wallpaper for anyone working an office job. Her work provokes a kind of peacefulness that could counter even the brightness of fluorescent office lighting and Gmail notifications. One could easily get lost in the vivid imagery of an expansive stretch of the Oregon coast or fog-coated mountainside and feel an urge to unplug their laptop, drop everything and seek out the nearest Patagonia for an impromptu hiking excursion. And that's exactly what she hopes will happen. By capturing the rugged outdoors, she wants us to feel inspired to seek it out for ourselves. We talked to the Portland-based photographer about having her camera permanently at her hip and what it's like to climb nearly 2000 ft high (very cold).
You're currently living in Portland, Oregon, which is known for its very vibrant creative scene. Tell us what you enjoy about living there.
I've been living in Portland for around 4 years now and I love it. I'm originally from West Virginia and upstate New York. Portland is great because you can get to the mountains or the coast in a little over an hour all while living in the city; it really is the best of both worlds.
Were you always interested in pursuing the arts and more specifically, photography?
I loved drawing when I was little. Art class was my favorite; however I actually got a D in art in High School though (I had an old angry teacher and I was stubborn). I think I was probably 13 when I started getting into photography. At that time I just had a point and shoot camera, but I like to think you can take good photos with anything.
You're currently a student, studying Business Management and Graphic Design. What inspired you to pursue these subjects and how do you see your photography fitting into the mix?
Business just seemed really practical and I didn't feel comfortable just going to school for an art degree. I'm currently also working as a phlebotomist part time so that normally takes up the remainder of my time. I actually just dropped the Graphic Design major and I'm now going towards environmental science, a complete 180, I know. Photography is actually what helped me realize how much I truly have a love for the outdoors and I want a career to implement that love. I feel like I'm finally on the right path.
What do you hope for the viewers of your work to take away with them? Is there a particular type of reaction you look for that lets you know you've done a good job?
I hope my photos encourage people to get out there and want to explore. I really appreciate heartfelt feedback, I get emails and messages on Instagram every now and then and it's really nice hearing someone tell you that they love your work and are inspired.
Having been on so many hiking trips, would you be willing to share a particularly memorable/scary/exciting tale from one of your adventures?
It's hard to choose just one, but I'd have to say the most memorable hike I've been on is Munra Point in the winter. My friend and I were extremely ill prepared for this one, considering we were not wearing anything waterproof or gloves in 2 feet of snow. We were really determined to get to the top though. When we made it to the top (which is an exposed ridge) there's a chimney you can climb up on, however everything was pure ice and on the other side of the way to climb up the chimney was a cliff 1700 in the air, that's the only time I can think of that I literally froze in fear because I thought I was going to slip and die. I didn't even get that many photos because my hands were so numb. I'd do it again though.
Your imagery has a distinct cinematic quality. Do you take any inspiration from film, and if so, are there any directors or cinematographers whose work has made a lasting impression on you?
If I had to pick a film that has inspired me it would be The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, the scenery was just astonishingly beautiful.
Are there any S6 artists you're following that you'd like to tell us about?
Interview by: Tim Maclean