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A Photography Adventure in Southeast Alaska

I’ve always believed adventure photography requires struggle.  It’s defined by photographing places that few people can reach, or the amount of effort it takes to get to and from the locations where we will finally pull my camera out of the bag.  I know that what makes my work unique isn’t my skill with a camera, it’s my willingness to put in the time and effort to place myself in front of better landscapes.


A photo of the author alone on the bow of a small cruise ship taken by Amber Arbucci.

I never really thought a cruise could be an adventure, but when Eagle Creek bags offered me a job cruising around the Fjords of South Eastern Alaska on a small adventure cruise with a company called Uncruise, I jumped on the opportunity. I had my doubts, but the possibility of getting to see these places that I’ve always wanted to visit was irresistible.

I was glad to find that this was no 2000 person boat, it was small, with only about 50 clients on board. The size of the boat meant that we could slip through tight passages and get up close and personal with the glaciers that create the Fjords that we were there exploring.

A boat approaches the end of a glacier.

A skiff approaches the terminus of a glacier.

Calving ice falls off of a glacier and into the water below.

Calving ice falls off of a glacier and into the water below.

I never would have elected to go on a cruise had it not come to me as a job, my ego would have forced me to kayak, hike, or at least rent my own small boat to pilot into these places.  Looking back on it, having three meals a day and a week to explore this landscape afforded me the opportunity to get far more images, and to bring my girlfriend, who would have been happy roughing it, but appreciated the warm rooms as much as I did.

A woman hikes through the forests of south eastern Alaska.

Photographer Amber Arbucci hikes through the forests of South Eastern Alaska in search of bears.

A woman kayaking in the Fjords of South Eastern Alaska.

Amber kayaking in a remote fjord.

I had actually been here once before, many years ago. And I approached the journey in a whole different way. I rented a kayak and paddled 30 miles out to and up the Taku inlet nearJuneau. That trip was an adventure in every sense of the word. I was awoken by a bear sniffing my head, and then an hour later by cold water. The highest tide of the year had risen over the high water mark and flooded the field I’d set up my tent in. I spent the rest of that night huddled on the rock in the middle of a lake hoping that my kayak wasn’t floating away.

That trip, marked by so many mishaps, led to no photos at all.  Barely had we reached the inlet when we were forced to turn around and re-evaluate our trip.  Granted, I was young and over confident, but in the same amount of time on the cruise I managed to capture hundreds of images for my collection.

My ego can be a huge stumbling block for me.  My definition of adventure can be somewhat elitist at times, but on this trip I learned that It’s not always about the story behind the photo, sometimes it’s just about the photo itself.   It’s about having access to these amazing places and taking advantage of every tool at our disposal to get in front of unique landscapes. Even if that means having all-you-can-eat crab for dinner instead of ramen noodles.