In this month’s Featured Photographer, Mary Mecklenburg shines as one of the few females in the male-dominated field of climbing photography. Her gorgeous photos inspire a sense of adventure, beauty, quiet, and playfulness—everything a good day of climbing should possess! Read on to hear Mary’s story.
How did you get into photography? Did climbing or photography come first?
When I started climbing, I became more passionate about photography. I had always been into photography and shooting photos while I was growing up, because we travelled a ton when I was a kid. I grew up in Japan and was exposed to a lot of different places and cultures at a young age, and my interest in photography started from wanting to share my experiences with my friends at home.
To be a photographer always seemed like a distant dream to me. However, while living in Boulder, Colorado I began dabbling in climbing, and happened to meet my boyfriend, Carlo Traversi, who is a professional climber and photographer. We began going on climbing trips together and I realized photography could actually turn into a career. So, climbing helped turn my dream into a reality.
What do you hope to portray or inspire with your photos?
It’s a little cliché but I hope to inspire people to enjoy the outdoors, be active, and explore. I feel like so many people put limitations on themselves and their abilities, and sometimes seeing an inspiring photo is all it takes to get out, go climbing, running, cycling or whatever, and enjoy nature.
Describe one of your proudest moments in photography.
One of my proudest moments was seeing one of my favorite climbing photos that I’ve taken, blown up in a poster at Movement Climbing Gym in Denver. It’s of Chelsea Rude lowering from a climb in Ceuse, France.
I’ve had other photos of mine get printed and become posters before but I particularly loved that photo so the fact that other people liked it enough to put it up in the gym made me extremely happy.
What do you think sets you apart from other outdoor photographers?
I feel like some of my favorites photos I take are the “in between” moments of climbing more than the climbing itself. Also, I love to really capture the sense of place and culture of whatever area we are climbing in. If I wasn’t a climbing photographer I would love to be a travel photographer, so maybe that’s where that stems from!
Who are some of your role models/mentors?
My role models and mentors tend to be other women photographers and videographers. It’s always inspiring to meet and talk to them because it’s kind of rare in this industry. In particular, two I can think of are Colette McInerney and Caroline Treadway. Both have always inspired me with their work and are always willing to give some advice for working in the outdoor industry.
Related: The Mythic Cliff with Colette McInerney
To see more of Mary’s work, check out her website and Instagram. We were thrilled to meet Mary at the International Climbers’ Festival in Lander earlier this month, and we wish her the best of luck in the future! Thanks for sharing your pictures and story with us, Mary!