To snap her stunning images of paragliding in the Pakistani Karakoram, expedition skiing in Alaska, BASE jumping on Baffin Island or freediving off the coast of Sardinia, Krystle Wright has had to literally dive into the adventures she’s shooting—adventures many would consider dangerous. “I certainly agree with that,” she says. “But I also think it’s far more dangerous to live a life full of regret and play the ‘what if?’ game.”
Setting up tents in blizzard conditions on Sam Ford Fjord, Baffin Island.
Avoiding regrets in life is something that floats in the forefront of Krystle’s mind. While others in her shoes as an adventure photographer might be in a constant search for the next moment to relax or check e-mail, it’s those times completely off the grid that mean the most to her. “The further off-grid I am, the happier I am! I absolutely love disconnecting and getting offline. Removing all the daily distractions in my life allows this incredible revelation to just be present in the moment. These periods of time are the reward of working so hard to make them happen.”
The last time Krystle had even a rented apartment to call home was in 2011. Stashing her stuff in a storage container at her grandma’s house in Australia, she base camps there when she’s in the area and lives out of her Toyota 4-Runner in the U.S. “I have been living out of bags, sleeping in cars, adopted many couches throughout the world, hammocks, and whatever forms a bed for the night,” she says. And it’s this eternal traveling that opens the world to her as a photographer. “Photography gives me this incredible purpose so that when I do travel, I am able to meet wonderful and unique characters along with discovering the weird and awesome places off the beaten path,” she says.
Hernan Pitocco performs a series of wingover maneuvers above the Karakoram Range, Pakistan.
Krystle’s self-described personal stubbornness has come in handy for nailing hard-to-get shots. She’s captured images of people doing spectacular things in remote, amazing landscapes that few have ventured to—and even fewer have photographed. And when she has something in mind, she’s unstoppable. “I spent 4.5 years chasing the one singular image of BASE jumping,” she says. But her drive to capture particular moments is something she’s had to self-examine lately. “I was so intently focused on the shot that it wasn’t until the journey was over that I realized there were so many layers. Once I started to decompress and grapple with the entire situation, I basically had a complete meltdown,” she says.
Losing close friend Mario Richard to a wingsuit accident during that period made Krystle step back and reevaluate how she sees the world. “Perhaps one of the biggest things I’ve learned has come from my great friend, [climber] Steph Davis.” She continues, “Steph has taught me so much over the years. She told me, ‘That’s the brutality of life, we really don’t get to keep anything. I know that’s a hard and real truth in your life and probably why you are so driven to take images of those ephemeral moments. But at the same time, we really do keep everything we love, even if it’s not where we can see it.’”
So Krystle keeps seeking to capture those moments, passing up a quote-unquote normal life to go to the places and meet the people she dreams of shooting.