Introducing Alex Hansen

Guide Alex Hansen has been with Backcountry Journeys for some time at this point. He’s settled in so nicely that it almost feels odd “introducing” him, as a number of folks have already traveled and photographed on a BCJ trip alongside Alex. Normally, we like to introduce the newest members of our team early on so that readers and guests can get a feel for who is behind the name and face. For a number of reasons (and excuses) we fell behind, but, we should still officially introduce him to the world and will do so now! 

Kenton: Tell us about yourself, Alex. Where did you grow up, go to school, what did you study at school? Where have you lived since? etc.

Alex: I grew up in the town of St. Cloud, Minnesota, about an hour north of the Minneapolis-St. Paul area. I eventually ended up in Minneapolis, attending the University of Minnesota and entering into the university’s Economics program. After college, I lived and worked in the area for two years as a project manager for an online, outdoor media publication. Since September of last year, I have lived full-time in Eagle, Colorado, which lies just west of Vail.

Kenton: What are some of your hobbies and interests?

Alex: I generally tell people that I am a person of the mountains. I try to spend as much time as I can living in and exploring different places and have spent a lot of time in recent years in Alaska’s greater ranges. I like to climb, and more generally, explore, in my free time. I use climbing, and photography for that matter, as vehicles to better see and understand the world around me. I am also a co-founder of the non-profit, Alaska Wilderness Project, which aims to be a platform to amplify the voices of the people and the state’s landscape. Simultaneously, we work to bridge the gap between science and consumable storytelling.

Kenton: I know I would love to hear more about the Alaska Wilderness Project, but for the sake of brevity for this piece we’ll need to move on for now. Maybe we’ll have you write an entire post about your involvement with that project down the road? Are you able to point to a specific trip, place, or exploration that you’ve done as an absolute favorite? If so, can you talk about why it stands out? Do you have an image to go with this trip that reminds you of it?

Alex: That’s a challenging question, as each trip provides something unique and engaging to itself. This past spring, I visited the west branch of the Gillam Glacier in the eastern Alaska Range for a climbing expedition. It’s a place of overwhelming silence and beauty. Although we didn’t necessarily succeed with any specific objective, it was great to simply spend time in that environment. To hear the ice creak and moan underneath your tent, to watch the midnight sun sit forever on the horizon, to witness the inherent magic of the Aurora Borealis: it all added to a certain cohesiveness of the trip that made it pretty surreal.

Alex Hansen

Kenton: When did you get into photography?

Alex: I came into photography about two years ago when I had an opportunity to photograph commercially for a group of outdoor apparel and equipment brands. I basically spent all of my savings on a new camera, a couple of lenses, and a few photography books. I had no real concept for what ‘professional’ photography was but was inspired nonetheless to figure it out. It’s safe to say there is a lifetime of learning here, and I’ll be the first to admit I’m still working adamantly to figure it all out.

Kenton: What is it about photography that attracts you to it, or keeps you interested?

Alex: Similar to alpine climbing, I like the process of photography. With both of these things, it’s as much, if not more, about the creativity in logistics, general preparation, and luck, then it is about any sort of technical proficiency. Obviously, the technical part is important, but without the former, there’s mediocrity to the work.

Kenton: What is it that separates a good photographer from a great photographer?

Alex: I was actually just having this conversation with a good friend the other day, as it’s something I consistently think about. We boiled it down to a few key concepts: Creativity, Effort, Luck.

Kenton: What system do you shoot with? 

Alex: I currently us a Sony A7RIII.

Kenton: Landscapes or Wildlife?

Alex: As of now, I photograph mostly landscape, although I can see wildlife becoming more heavily integrated in future endeavors.

Kenton: What lens do you find that you shoot with the most?

Alex: I use my Sony GM 16-35 f/2.8 the most. It’s practically glued to my camera body.

Kenton: Any insight as to why it is that way for you?

Alex: I really aim to capture an entire scene, whether that includes solely a landscape or integrating human or wildlife subjects into the portrait as well. A wide-angle lens with good variability helps me achieve this.

Kenton: How did you find Backcountry Journeys, and what at first attracted you to the job?

Alex: I knew a while back that I wanted to pursue photography as a career. With that said, there was a time when I was combing job sites every few days in search of photography-related work. Eventually, I found Backcountry Journeys and decided almost immediately that I needed to apply. I was sold on the idea of traveling and teaching, and was attracted to the opportunity to simultaneously work while being able to hold a camera.

Kenton: At this point, you aren’t exactly ‘new’ at BCJ… In fact, you’ve led a number of trips already, is that correct? Which have you been a part of so far? What were some takeaways from each trip?

Alex: I’ve been on a handful of trips including workshops in Alaska (Interior Alaska and Aurora Borealis), Yosemite, Zion, Hawaii, and Arches & Canyonlands. First and foremost, each trip provides a truly unique opportunity to see a beautiful part of our world, to witness an ephemeral phenomenon, or both. To be able to experience these places and events with a like-minded group of individuals is special, and each person adds to the journey in their own way. I also think it’s important to note that each person comes into a trip with a certain need, whether that’s related to photography, travel, or something more spiritual. Given the small group size and general dynamic of Backcountry Journey trips we as instructors, and peers, are able to ensure those needs are realized. It’s a joy to take part in.

Kenton: What do you feel is the thing that you’ll really “bring to the table” as a guide for BCJ, and what are you looking forward to most in your role as a guide for BCJ?

Alex: I think my strongest trait is flexibility, both in travel and personality. I know how to travel, how to ‘read a room’, per se, and how to set each individual up for success. I look forward to fostering a unique relationship with each person I’m able to meet and teach along the way. And working backward from that logic, learning from those same people.

Kenton: Awesome, man, thank you! I know you’re out there doing good things and are already making an impact in the BCJ-universe. I appreciate you taking the time to finally officially get introduced to our readers and guests.

Kenton Krueger

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kenton Krueger has spent the past several years guiding backpackers, hikers, and photographers into the wild places of the American West such as Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Yosemite, Glacier, Katmai, Zion, Bryce Canyon, Arches, Canyonlands National Parks, as well as internationally in Costa Rica & Brazil. In addition to backpacking and camping, his adventures include rock climbing, exploring the slot canyons of southern Utah, mountain biking, and bagging 14ers in Colorado’s San Juan Mountain Mountain Range. Kenton is a trail runner, former pilot, and spent roughly five years writing and photographing for the award-winning Omaha World-Herald newspaper, out of his hometown, Omaha, Nebraska. Kenton looks forward to utilizing his years of trip leading and guiding experience, combined with his passion and experience behind the lens, to provide memorable and unforgettable experiences at the wild places we will visit together.

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