Shooting New Zealand’s epic nature with photographer and Instagram heavyweight
Melbourne’s Aleksandar Jason got his start as a photographer through his taste in tunes. His blog Adam Not Eve led him to shoot gigs and touring festivals such as Future Music and Melbourne’s premiere indie-electro night Can’t Say.
Fast forward a few years and he’s packed in the late night party socials in favour of making bank with commercial gigs. Now you’ll find him working on campaigns for Nike and Oakley, shooting soccer as the official Melbourne City FC photographer, and devoting the rest of his time to adventuring around the world, capturing incredible landscapes for his Instagram. He’s even published a book, titled Amores Maris, (which translates as “love for the deep blue’) of crashing shoreline waves that he shot flying over Australia’s Phillip Island coast.
Jason headed to New Zealand for his latest expedition to cruise around the South Island in an RV. We asked him what went down on his Aotearoa adventure.
It's always been a thing for me to get away from the world. I do a lot of road trips with my fiancée, and my Instagram is heavily based on nature and being outside of the normal world we experience every day.
New Zealand was an inspirational trip. In fact we missed a lot of the places we had planned on exploring because every time we turned a corner we were like, ‘we need to stop here and just wait for the light’. It's a country that you can go to many times and never have the same shot!
We started off in Queenstown, drove down around to Glenorchy and then got a small plane flight to Milford Sound to get some aerial shots. Flying through the mountain ranges at 6am, getting so close to the cliffs I thought we were going to die, that the wind would flip our little plane.
We’d planned to drive around the bottom of New Zealand but a week just wasn’t enough time, so we headed back up the South Island towards Lake Wanaka and stopped at basically every town we drove past.
We were driving an RV, which was pretty intense, having never driven anything bigger than a 4WD. Some of the roads we just couldn't drive on at night because there was zero visibility. Then we traveled through a storm in Mount Cook where we couldn't see anything in front of us, and literally could have gone off an edge. Our RV almost got flooded by a river one night because we were parked too close to the bank.
At Lake Pukaki we nearly froze. It was the middle of July, and around midnight the weather changed and it went from normal winds to about 90km winds. Even though we were inside the RV it was probably about -1 degrees. It was like sitting in a boat, just shaking side to side.
Sometimes we’d stop on a corner of the road to get a shot and risk getting hit by semi-trailers and logging trucks. Once I was getting my drone out to take an aerial when I saw this huge truck coming at us, I managed to get back to the car just in time!
I’m actually new to the drone world, I had never flown one until I joined on with US based 3DRobotics. Now I take mine for a flight almost every week. Before drones I usually paid a couple of hundred dollars to jump onto a doorless helicopter and document what I could. The hardest part about using a drone is forgetting that birds can actually attack it; luckily Australia only has the annoying seagull, magpie, or crow but I could imagine flying it in the USA and getting attacked by some wild eagle. It’s actually pretty insane how fast the trend has grown. Now we get to see a whole new side of the world.
The biggest challenge of shooting in places like Mount Cook and Lake Wanaka is that everyone has similar photos. It's like going to the Eiffel Tower or the Leaning Tower of Pisa and getting the same shot as everyone else. That was the biggest challenge for me, and I think my best advice for travel photographers is to try and stay away from everyone else's shot and just shoot what catches your eye .
I packed a lot of gear for the trip—my Canon 5D Mark 3, a Pentax Asahi or K1000 with a 50mm lens, a few 35mm lenses, my drone, and a few Polaroid cameras. I had to pay for 50kgs baggage. Sometimes I don't even use them, I just keep them there thinking, ‘I'll probably use you tomorrow’.
I wanted to shoot to many places and didn’t have enough time—but that's what I really loved about New Zealand: there were moments I hadn’t planned at all and I still loved it! Traveling to New Zealand has made me want to explore and shoot places not many people go to, like my homeland Macedonia. My favourite photo or my best photo is always the next one that I take!
Published 2017, Majestic Journal, Print Issue 1
Written by Nick Jarvis