Last night at 9:30pm across the street from my hotel


 Stopped to take a picture

 Byron Glacier and makeshift bathroom

 A very large animal turd

Caribou...I'll never understand people who hunt.

All Images © Emily Shur

Yep I'm in Anchorage, Alaska.  I came up here by my lonesome on Saturday for a shoot that will hopefully happen tomorrow.  In the meantime, I've done some sightseeing in a place I've never been before.  Today is July 4th.

I decided to take a drive south as Anchorage seems pretty quiet, and I stayed close yesterday.  I wanted to check out a glacier.  I drove down to Portage Glacier even though I read you can now only see where that glacier used to be.  However, there are a couple others that you can see...Byron Glacier being the one I decided upon because it was easily accessible.  There's a walking path to the glacier, and a little map where you park your car showing how long the path is.  I couldn't get a good sense of the distance of the walk from the map, and I kind of had to pee when I got there.  There was no place to do such a thing in the parking lot so I just started walking thinking it would be 10 minutes of walking or so.  It was more like 25-30 minutes which is an easy walk, but by the time I reached the glacier I really had to pee.  Bad.  Of course I had to take some pictures...so I did.  Then, I turned around quicker than I normally would have because of the bathroom situation, all the while thinking, "If this was Japan I would have passed at least one bathroom and two vending machines by now."  On the walk back, the stupid babbling brook alongside me was not helping.  I began to have a bit of a freak out because not only did I have most of the return walk left to go, but I already knew there was nowhere for me to pee once I got back to the car.  I'd still have to drive somewhere to find a bathroom.  Well, that was not going to work so I made an executive decision and peed on the side of the trail.  Yes, I did.  Yes, I was worried some nice nature loving family was going to walk by, as they were coming about every 2 minutes or so, but I couldn't help it.  I had to go.  Also, there were about a billion mosquitoes and I was concerned about my exposed parts, but these were all risks I was willing to take.  Luckily, nothing (more) embarrassing happened.  So, that was that.

Then, I had some delicious seafood chowder and a grilled halibut sandwich.  Really excellent halibut.  Oh, and I definitely washed my hands first...with all the peeing and whatnot beforehand.

The afternoon was spent at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center.  I had a really nice time there just hanging out around lovely, quiet animals.  I found myself taking a whole bunch of pictures I'll probably never do anything with, mostly because they are just too pretty, too sweet, too Animal Planet-y...it's funny how one can get into that zone in the right surroundings.  Yesterday I stopped at some bird watching swamp place and took pictures next to two serious looking nature photographers for like 20 minutes.  They had the tripods, the big zoom lenses and clearly knew what they were looking for.  I was also there watching, waiting...and at a certain point I was like "What am I doing?"  My next thoughts were A) taking pictures and B) what else should I be doing?  The thing about shooting film is that now I think we (or maybe just I) wind up factoring in cost more so than I used to, and now every picture must be deemed worthy.  This sucks because maybe for two days I want to get my National Geographic on, yet I think to myself, "Well, what am I going to do with these pictures?  Do they fit in anywhere?  If not, should I still take them?"  The answer is definitely yes.  Yes, I should still take them.  Maybe I'm just trying to justify taking pictures that I don't consider to be A+ photographs, but I'm still going with 'yes'.  Along with the money being a non-issue (I mean, I do also have the 5D with me.  I could've used it if I wanted to, but I didn't.), I hate the idea that every picture has to be super cool.  So much about making a living as a photographer has to do with our ability to keep up and/or innovate, and I have to be honest...sometimes I just want to take pretty pictures because a lot of what is fulfilling about taking pictures like the ones I took today is the fact that you have to be in a beautiful, peaceful place in order to take them.

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