Here’s the first part of our interview series celebrating world’s female action sports photographers who put themselves in dangerous situations to capture some of the most world’s beautiful photographs. It was an absolute pleasure to chat with Savannah Cummins one of the top female action sports photographers in the world.
Q: 1. Backstory: Savannah. I’d like you to give our readers some backstory about who you are and where you came from what was your childhood like?
I currently live in the beautiful state of Utah, but I’m always on the move! I grew up in the Midwest, Cincinnati, Ohio. Cincinnati is probably one of the few cities in Ohio with a climbing community since it’s so close to the famed Red River Gorge, however, I didn’t grow up climbing or doing anything that outdoorsy.
Q: What first drew you to action photography and what keeps you there?
I worked seasonal jobs out of highschool, I didn’t go to college, I knew it wasn’t for me. I got a shoulder injury within my first year of climbing, when I was recovered I decided I’d take 6 months off to solely climb, no work. Eventually, I ran out of money and was contemplating what I should do with my life, what can I do where I can make my own schedule and continue to climb? I thought massage therapy school maybe? Talked about it with my boyfriend at the time and his response was “that’s a dumb idea, you should just be a photographer” I was a little hurt by his response, becoming a photographer felt like an impossible way to make a living at the time, but I decided to try anyways. I was drawn to taking photos of climbing because it was what I was doing everyday, it made sense, it’s what all my friends do. It’s a way for me be active and make money. The digital world is constantly changing and growing so photography is a way for me ALWAYS have something to do and something to learn.
Q: What is it about Climbing in general that attracts you?
Climbing is a way for me to be outside, push my limits, get out of my comfort zone, get shut down, have fun and hang with friends.
Q: What are some of the challenges of these kinds of photography?
The kind of photography that I do is very challenging. You need to be able to keep up with world class athletes (which at times I struggle with for sure!) You need to have knowledge of the sport, the history, you have to have technical skills, be ok with beating up your equipment and yourself to get the shot. It can be dangerous. There’s not really youtube videos out there on how to shoot adventure sports like there are weddings, family portraits, events, ect. You have to just go and do it.
Q: What is the most memorable trip you have had in recent memory? What kind of hidden places did you get to explore?
Right now, my most memorable trip was in Alaska. I was documenting my friend Katie Bono setting the women’s speed record on North America’s tallest mountain. It was SO hard for me in so many different ways. A Type 2 fun experience.
Q: Do you, or have you ever, looked to other artists for inspiration or education?
To name a few people I look up to…Krystle Wright, Renan Ozturk, Tim Kemple, Ben Moon, Jimmy Chin. There are MANY more amazing photographers out there and everyday I’m inspired by other’s work.
Q: What equipment do you use to captures your footage? And why? What are some of the challenges of using them?
I use a Sony A7Rii for most of my work, along with a few lenses. When I’m trying to travel REALLY light and fast I use a Sony RX100. The A7Rii is known for poor battery life, I have 10 batteries, they’re small and light and I have yet to run out of battery life!
Q: What advice would you give to someone embarking on their first adventure?
Embrace the fear and challenges you may have about this first adventure, whether it’s moving to a new place, going on your first hike, climb or backing trip, whatever it may be, you will grow as an individual!
Q: What other projects are you currently working on?
This year has been full of projects already, I documented my friend Katie Bono setting the women’s speed record on Denali (North America’s tallest peak), travelled to the Arctic Circle in Greenland to document professional mountain runner Kelly Halpin testing her skills and endurance, next month I’m off to India with two professional women climbers to document a first ascent in the Himalayan mountains and this winter I’m headed to Antarctica to climb beautiful granite towers!
Q: Closing Thoughts … How do you think photography and traveling have changed your view of the world?
Travel is a huge aspect of my work, and that I own a camera I look at everything differently, I’m always imagining how what I see through my eyes will look like in a still image, how can I make it interesting or unique.