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Ice, Ice Baby

Written By: Nicole Fera

Photographed By: Robert Zaleski

Robert Zaleski is a photographer, creative director, photo editor and videographer that has traveled the world. Zaleski has worked on both coasts and brought inspiration and beauty to many of the magazines that he has worked for during his career. Just looking at his photos brings inspiration and makes you want to dive right into the image that he has captured. His work tends to speak for itself, but Robert was kind enough to answer some questions about this particular amazing collection of photos, his travels and what it takes to capture moments like these on film.

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Q: Where exactly were these amazing photos taken?

Robert Zaleski: Bear Glacier in the Kenai Fjords National Park, Mendenhall Glacier and Glacier Bay National Park.

Q: Did you have to camp out? Is there a town nearby? Civilization? Ha!

RZ: Mendenhall Glacier is just 13 miles from downtown Juneau, making it an easily accessible and popular destination for tourists. However, capturing the other images required some fairly extensive travel by float plane, boat or train and in some cases all three to reach more remote locations. For this reason, we carried in all food and equipment necessary to sustain our group for a week or two at a time while camping in the wild.

I remember one particular instance where after spending about a week camping in Glacier Bay National Park, our guide paddled a mile out into the bay attempting to use a satellite phone to check-in with the home office. After 30 minutes, he gave up, not being able to connect the call — that speaks to how you should never rely on technology while in the wild.

Q: How exactly did you find yourself there?

RZ: These pictures represent several trips to Alaska while on assignment for various publications.

Q: How cold was it in these photos?

RZ: The weather can change quickly in Alaska and does so frequently. In some of these images, it was quite cold and below freezing. While in others, it was sunny and rather warm (mid-50s). At least once every hour I would find myself either adding or removing layers depending on the changing conditions.

Q: Who is in these photos?

RZ: The subjects in these photos are all knowledgeable paddlers or experienced guides like my friends at Liquid Adventures. Wilderness Outfitters based in Seward, who provides professionally guided trips to those seeking adventure.

Q: A job like this not only requires amazing camera skills, but also a bit of outdoor knowledge as well. How did this all come about for you?

RZ: I’ve always had a penchant for travel and an innate passion for photography. After gaining experience in the advertising world as an art director and photographer early in my career, I moved on to publishing where I worked on staff for many years as a creative director and photographer – a position that afforded opportunities to travel. From there, I began working with and producing work for clients such as Animal Planet, Men’s Journal, National Geographic and many others.

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Q: What is the most difficult part about taking these types of photos?

RZ: A travel photographer’s job is to document what they see regardless of the conditions. I think one of the most difficult aspects of that process is being able to deal with them. Embracing less than ideal conditions or inclement weather while having to work is challenging, but once you learn to do so you can focus on the objective and produce great work.

Q: Where are some other places that you’ve been to?

RZ: Some of the places I’ve been fortunate enough to travel to include New Orleans, Mississippi, the American Southwest, Mexico, central America, all throughout the Caribbean, the edge of the arctic circle (Nunavut and Baffin Island), Vancouver Island, and the Great Bear Rainforest.

Q: Favorite place that you’ve shot so far?

RZ: One of my most memorable assignments to date was a trip to the Lower Mississippi Delta. I spent a week there camping, documenting and paddling a 100-mile stretch of the river for an editorial feature story. It’s an often overlooked part of our country that has a peaceful and unexpected beauty to the landscape.

Q: Where do you draw your inspiration from?

RZ: I find inspiration in the work of other photographers and by anyone pursuing their passions and living their dream. Doing my own thing was always my dream. And for as long as I can remember, I had an insatiable desire to document my travels and share my experiences through photography.

Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world to shoot, where would that be?

RZ: Iceland and New Zealand.

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Robert is supported by and is a brand ambassador for Western Digital. To view more of his work, visit his website at www.rzcreative.com and follow him on Instagram @rzcreative.

Alaska is Now Officially on Your Bucket List