Outdoors: Krystle Wright
Discover a thrilling exploration of the outdoors with photographer and filmmaker Krystle Wright, a true adventurer of both the mind and spirit of the soul
Photography by Krystle Wright
Krystle Wright is a photographer who fearlessly captures breathtaking adventures. In this interview Krystle opens up about her experiences in the face of danger and the profound impact it has on her career. Her passion for pushing boundaries shines through, driven by an insatiable curiosity and an unwavering commitment to pursuing adventure projects.
Glorious: Why is the outdoors so important to you and how did you become interested in adventure photography?
Krystle Wright: I grew up in the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia, in a very outdoorsy family. I initially started my career as a sports photographer with aspirations of covering events like the Olympics and the Rugby World Cup. However, the newspaper industry was rapidly changing, and after just four years, I became disillusioned with it. I saw the toll it took on long-time photographers, and I didn’t want to end up in that position. I realised that the beauty of the outdoors was that it offered limitless possibilities and fewer constraints compared to working in a traditional editorial setting. It allowed me to challenge myself and solve problems creatively while being in nature or working with athletes. This freedom and the constant problem-solving aspect drew me to adventure photography.
Glorious: Have you always been adventurous and willing to push yourself into the unknown?
Krystle Wright: Years ago, when I gave up on my dream of working in the newspaper industry, I decided to hit the road and see what would happen. I embarked on a road trip in the United States, starting from Los Angeles and heading towards Salt Lake City for an outdoor retailer trade show. I didn’t have any plans or accommodations, and it initially felt terrifying but exhilarating at the same time. The feeling of not knowing where I would sleep each night and embracing uncertainty was a new and thrilling experience. I think it’s important for everyone to feel that sense of adventure and uncertainty from time to time.
Glorious: What is your work process? Do you collaborate with clients or work to a commissioned brief?
Krystle Wright: I don’t wait for assignments to come to me. Especially in my younger years, I would use my rent money to travel and create my own projects. I took risks and explored ideas without always knowing if they would be financially successful. I believe in creating a vision and sometimes reaching out to athletes or friends to join me on these journeys to bring that vision to life. In some cases, it’s more documentary-style work during expeditions, while in others, it’s a collaborative process with athletes. I don’t consider any project truly finished, and there are always ideas I want to revisit or improve upon.
Glorious: What have been your favourite shoots, and what would be your dream shoot?
Krystle Wright: It’s difficult to choose favourites because each shoot offers unique experiences. Storm chasing has become an addiction for me, and I would love to keep doing it every American spring. I’ve always been drawn back to Utah and have many ideas I want to capture there. I miss the long expeditions, spending months immersed in a particular environment and focusing solely on the adventure. Being offline and disconnected from distractions brings me a lot of happiness. There are ideas and places I still want to explore, and I consider my work an ongoing journey.
Glorious: You must have encountered dangerous situations in your career. Do these experiences motivate you?
Krystle Wright: Yes, there have been instances where I faced dangerous situations. One particular incident that stands out is when I was involved in a paragliding accident in Pakistan during a five-week expedition. Just 10 seconds after taking off, we collided with boulders, and I blacked out for five minutes. It was a moment of acceptance, and I didn’t have any regrets or fear. While we prioritise safety and make the right choices, there will always be inherent risks in what we do. Feeling fear and having my heart race is important because it prevents complacency, which can lead to accidents. So even now, when I approach a cliff edge or prepare for a risky activity, I still feel nerves and fear, and that’s a good thing.
Glorious: It’s a physically demanding job, so presumably your fitness levels must be tip-top?
Krystle Wright: In your 20s, you can muscle up, and it’s fine. But a few years ago, in 2019, I was in Jackson Hole on a skiing trip. The first day was fine, a bit slow but manageable. However, the second day was more challenging with a longer approach and halfway up, I told my friend, “Hey, I’m really struggling today. I think we need to change our plans.” She encouraged me, but I clarified that I wasn’t seeking encouragement, I had to admit that I simply wasn’t fit enough! We were planning on backcountry skiing, and I knew I was going to slow us down and thought we should adapt, but her stubbornness prevented us from changing plans. We eventually made it to the top, but it was a terrible experience. When she came down, she triggered a wind slab avalanche. Luckily, I was in a safe position and wasn’t swept away, but that day, there were many signs indicating that we shouldn’t have gone to the Alpine. It was a wake-up call for me, and I realised that I couldn’t just wake up and expect to muscle through everything. During the pandemic, the positive aspect was that it forced me to slow down. I’ve been able to regain my fitness and prioritise my health. If I want to have a long career in this industry, I need to be healthy and fit.
Glorious: As a photographer of outdoor activities, do people always assume that you are skilled in those sports?
Krystle Wright: It’s easy for people to assume that as a photographer, I must be competent in the sports I capture. Take climbing as an example. While I had some climbing experience, I used to feel insecure about it because I would often photograph some of the world’s best climbers. I would tell myself that I was just there to take photos and not participate. Looking back, I realise how silly that mindset was. Now, I’ve found a community and passion for climbing, and I prioritise making time for both climbing and photography. It’s so important to put the camera down and participate in the activities you love.
Glorious: What advice would you give to people passionate about the outdoors and aspiring to have a job like yours?
Krystle Wright: I believe adaptability is crucial in any creative industry. While it’s important to evolve with the changing trends, I personally don’t agree with relying too heavily on AI and technology. I think there are aspects of art and photography that shouldn’t change. For me, photography is about the experience, connecting with the world, and capturing stories. It’s important to shoot for yourself and not just chase trends or try to please an audience. Persistence is also essential in any career, and it’s okay to have other jobs that support you financially while pursuing your passion.
Glorious: What’s next for you?
Krystle Wright: Currently, I’m taking on side hustles to ensure I have financial stability. However, I will always find a way to pursue my creative and passion projects. I have a curiosity about the world, and photography allows me to explore and express that curiosity. I believe in pursuing projects that inspire me, and I’ll continue to do so. There may be changes along the way, but my passion for photography and the exploration of the world will always remain.