If you need adventure photographer Becca Skinner, odds are you’d have better luck finding her in a bivy sack on a mountainside than on her couch at home—or indoors at all, for that matter.
She jokes about sleeping outside more nights than inside this year, and that’s really the way she likes it. After all, a portfolio full of dreamy, backlit sunrise shots and photos of morning coffee in beautiful places doesn’t just build itself; it grows organically with each morning she pokes her head out of her sleeping bag before the sun pops over the horizon.
“Outdoor adventuring for me means anything from fly-fishing to summiting,” she says. “I feel really lucky that I’ve found a way to have created work for myself that also involves being pushed physically.”
Becca grew up in the climbing world—legendary climber Todd Skinner was her uncle—and you’ve probably seen her work in the latest Patagonia catalog, but she got her start as a photographer by turning her lens on New Orleans five years after Hurricane Katrina. A couple years later, she snagged a National Geographic Young Explorers grant to shoot post-tsunami Sumatra, Indonesia. Since then, she’s been chasing light, and the stories of people living adventures in the outdoors, all around the American West. Much of the time she lives out of her built-out 2004 Chevy Colorado with her trusty part-pit bull companion, Veda—named for the Wyoming climbing area, Vedauwoo.
She’s not afraid to stick her neck out for a shot—like hanging out of a helicopter or making her way through a country where women can get arrested for smoking on the street—but the photos she finds the most meaningful are the images that feel most accessible. “The ones that I always think are the best are the ones that I can personally relate to or that inspire me to go outside,” she says.
Her favorites so far? “I got the opportunity to do the Teton Crest Trail with my best friend and her then 14-month-old son,” she says. The 47-mile trek introduced the baby to the backcountry and pushed Becca both physically and mentally. Her story and photos captivated and inspired other women looking to bring their own children into the backcountry.
“Backpacking with a baby isn’t the easiest shooting situation I’ve put myself into, but is one of the most rewarding,” she says. “That trip will always have a special place in my heart.”
This year, she’s been aiming her lens at wildlife for National Geographic, and is vying for a three month paddling expedition this fall.
If you enjoyed Becca’s photos in this article, head on over to Instagram and give @beccaskinner a follow.