Cameron “Bearcam” Maier is a Colorado-based adventure photographer, climber, and friend to so many of us in the climbing community. In his photos, he captures aspects of our sport that are so present when we’re out climbing, yet rarely portrayed in outdoor photography—silliness, laughter, and friendship. Read on to hear his story and see his beautiful photographs of some of our sport’s most beloved characters:
What came first, climbing or photography?
Climbing came first. I first got into photos when I brought a camera to a 2-week long college course over winter break in Mexico, to Baja California. It was my first time taking photos in a serious manner and I loved it.
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What do you hope to portray or inspire with your photos?
I hope my climbing photos portray people trying hard in a wonderfully glorious setting, whether that is the actual case or not! By that I mean I try to make even the average situations look epic. With my climbing photographs I try to inspire people to go try hard somewhere they have never been (mentally or physically!).
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What’s it like to work with some of our sports most talented athletes?
It’s great! They perform at a very high level and push me to do the same. Plus they are some of my best friends.
Adventure photography can be a difficult field to break into. What do you attribute your success to?
I attribute my success to a combination of timing, timing, and a small pinch of hustle and talent. It also helps that people generally enjoy spending time with me, I suppose. By timing I mean that after working a seasonal job (RMNP trail crew) and had the off-season off, I used a small monthly stipend to get myself out there shooting with the pro climbers around CO.
Tell us about one of the best days you’ve had shooting.
That’s a really hard question! Sometimes when I’ve been on shoots centered around hard climbs going down, there is a little pressure at the end of the trip, so when the business goes down on the LAST DAY, that’s always pretty awesome.
That happened in Australia with Dave [Graham] and Nalle [Hukkataival] once. We had terrible luck with weather, which is hard if you’re trying a V14 crimp boulder—but on the last day the rain stopped, the wind came, and Dave put down the project followed shortly thereafter by Nalle, and I was able to get some cool media of what is really one of the world’s most incredible problems, Wave Swoop. We gave up so much to that point we couldn’t even decide on an epic name, so just went with Wave Swoop haha!
Tell us about a not-so-proud moment in your photography career.
Back when I had beginner rope management skills and a great fear of heights, I had some not-proud moments. I’ve accidentally deleted V14 sends from a memory card, just once though. Perhaps more recently the not-so-proud moments occur on the business side, which always has a lesson to teach!
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What about your job do you love most?
Besides being incredibly turned on and stoked when it’s “go time” on a shoot, I love traveling with friends and going to a place that is brand new to me.
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What advice do you have for budding adventure photographers and videographers?
Keep making work and learn something from everything you make!
Moja Gear sends a huge thank you to Cam for sharing his photos and story with us. We can’t wait to see what 2016 has in store for you! Check out more of Cameron Maier’s photos on his website.