Tuesday, October 4, 2011
People In Color
Nevada Wier is the quintessential traveler and global adventurer. Among her recent destinations are the outer, less-known areas of Burma and India.
In the last decade, with the nation enthralled in two wars, combat photojournalism and photojournalists have woven their way into the day-to-day fabric of all of our lives. Today, the most common images from around the world come from photographers whose lenses are focused on cultures at war.
Wier is a self-taught photographer, an Outward Bound instructor and the product of a liberal (very liberal) arts education.
Mix these elements with a name like Nevada, and she was almost destined to be an acclaimed travel photographer. She's spent some three decades establishing a unique eye and a gift for taking us, as viewers, all over the world. Today, she's acclaimed for her images from India, which go against popular perception and are rich with artistry and vision. But an artist isn't an engineer, working from a plan to strict specifications.
The adventure began with Wier's first international trip, an ambitious journey to Bolivia in 1978. Being an experienced outdoor guide, earning the cred in the pristine western wilderness of Arizona and New Mexico, she ventured to Lake Titicaca where she circumnavigated the lake in a reed boat for three-and-a-half months. Thor Heyerdahl crossed the Pacific in his Kon-Tiki in the time it took Nevada and a friend to wrap around the lake—albeit, a large lake—in a similar craft.
The epic boating adventure came after her planned climbing trip was stymied by aggressive customs officers who seized the group's crampons after a golpe led to political instability and weary security forces.
Says Wier, "I like having Plan A and going through with Plan Q. I think that's very helpful to photography." Clearly, she wasn't going to settle for the well-beaten path and resort hotels many of us use as the base camp for our own adventures.
But the career started with that Outward Bound program and a makeshift darkroom setup in the office. "If I could go back to any time in my life, that would be it," Wier reminisces.
Equipped with a Mamiya 645 and a Nikon, she'd trek out during the day—with tours or alone—and begin capturing Nepal on film. "I realized very quickly what was at the bottom of the mountains was more interesting than at the top," she says. "There's nothing at the top except a good view. At the bottom there were all these people and all these trails."
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