Jack Anstey With The North Face: Never Stop Exploring

Jack Anstey is a freelance photographer who found photography through a love of adventure, travel and exploration. We caught up with Jack after a recent shoot he did working with top outdoor brand The North Face to hear more about his career, his ambitions for the future, and the challenges posed by harsh Scottish weather conitions.  

How would you describe your lifestyle to someone that doesn't already know you?

I live my life on the road, in a constant pursuit of the mountains, wild land-scapes and memorable experiences. Living and working out of my camper van means I’m able to spend most of my time in the wilder regions of the UK, always on the move in search of the next adventure.

How did you transfer photography from a hobby to a career?

I think of it as a combination of a lot of passion, dedication and hard work, sprinkled with some patience. For several years now, I have lived and breathed photography and adventure, and back before I was fully self-employed and freelance I spent every second of my spare time either away on trips or editing photos. After a few years of pouring my heart and soul into my work, I had increased both my online presence and portfolio into a place where I thought I had a chance of building it into my career. Aware that I would regret not taking the opportunity far more than I would giving it a go and failing, I handed in my resignation notice in October 2018 and haven’t looked back since. 

You describe Scotland as a bit of a second home. What is it about Scotland that appeals to you so much?

The freedom to be able to explore endlessly. The Scottish Highlands are still reasonably remote and wild, and being able to get out into a world of seemingly endless adventures is what sparked the passion for me. The ease at which I’ve been able to live a life out of my van in Scotland, has helped to make it feel like a second home, and I would say I probably spend around 9 months of the year touring the Highlands. Even after spending so much time there, I still find myself awestruck at the beauty of the many lochs, glens and mountains that dominate Scotland.

What's been your favourite adventure to do and is there anything you've always wanted to do but haven't done yet?

There are so many different adventures that come to mind when trying to think of a favourite. Some of the alpine hikes I’ve done in Chamonix, the experiences had on many of my trips to Iceland, or the remote and freezing landscape of Finnish Lapland. But something that will always stand out to me will be the trip to the Isle of Rum I took with my two best friends about 10 years ago. I was still pretty novice with my camera back in those days, and this was a long time before Instagram and a career in photography was even on the horizon, but it was my first proper foray into the wild regions of Scotland and it really helped to kickstart a passion and desire to experience as much of the outdoors as I could. We spent a week hiking off footpaths, climbing the Rum Cuillin and staying in remote bothies, just perfect! This year I’m really hoping to be able to get a chance to tackle Skye’s Cuillin - I’ve been up in the Cuillin a few times, but a full traverse over a couple of days is high on my to-do list.

How important is it for you to have something to look forward to?

I’m always thinking of the next adventure, and the excitement of looking forward to the next experience is what fuels my motivation. I’m constantly planning and recording potential locations for future trips and hikes, and I have a pretty long to-do list, but it’s not until the journey is underway that I really start getting stoked.

Do you set yourself goals and targets with your work?

I don’t really set myself too many goals or objectives within photography. I’m quite passionate about trying to keep my craft fun, creative and honest, and I think that by setting too many goals you can start to look for ways of measuring success, which can start to limit creativity as you start to follow targets and not your passion. I try to keep myself inspired by the people and landscape around me, and really just focus on producing the best work I can do on a daily basis.

How do you deal with the harsh weather conditions of Scotland?

Whilst Scotland is known for its dramatic and varied weather, I don’t ever really have a problem with being out and exploring in the elements. To me there’s no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate gear. If you’re set up with the right equipment you put yourself in a position where you’ll be able to brave any storm and embrace any conditions. The times I’ve been uncomfortable in the outdoors has always been down to me not having the right jacket, mid-layers, hat, gloves or trousers. Usually when I’m going out I like to opt for a sturdy pair of mid-to-high ankle boots, some lightweight hiking trousers, t-shirt and insulated mid-layer, and then keep a good waterproof and breathable jacket in my bag in case the weather turns. A hat, gloves and neck gaiter can also go a long way in helping to make you feel comfortable for longer when out in harsher environments.

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