Photo Gallery: The 2019 Climbing Photo Annual - Climbing Magazine

Photo Gallery: The 2019 Photo Annual

First-look climbing images from around the globe
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From the boulders of Bishop to the sandstone of China, and from California big walls to Utah ice, we give you a first look at 21 of this year's most amazing climbing images, from five of the top photographers in the game.

Photographer: Andy Wickstrom

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Asheville, North Carolina

Favorite camera

Nikon Z6 with a 16-35mm f/4, 85mm f/1.4, and 24mm f/1.4

Favorite place to shoot

The Red River Gorge in November—it feels like my wife’s and my home crag, and the friends we’ve made there are a big reason. Photographing in the Red feels natural to me: I’ve shot it so much and seen so many images of it that I feel like I’m looking a lot harder and being more self-critical than in the past—that growth feels good, artistically speaking. 

Pro tip

Keep your photographic framing clean—remove distracting background elements (“yard sales”—e.g., piles of ropes, backpacks, clothing, water bottles, etc. at the cliff base) to create more impactful shots. In an effort to avoid this visual clutter, I’ll ask folks if I can move or get their help moving backpacks or other things off to the side and out of frame.

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Photographer: François Lebeau

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Denver, Colorado

Favorite camera

Nikon D750 with a 50mm f/1.4

Favorite place to shoot

I can’t pinpoint an exact location. I’m always happy being at the right spot at the right time—or at least planning it. I’m obsessed with light, and waiting patiently for that moment is what makes the place I’m shooting my favorite place.

Pro tip

My way of shooting changed the day I decided to find a better way to carry my extra camera gear anywhere other than on my back or harness. Find a bag that fits only the necessary equipment, with a strong clip, handle, safety strap, or something solid so you can clip any equipment you aren’t currently using somewhere on the wall, rope, or anywhere else that’s safe.

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Related: Interview—Photographer François Lebeau on Climbing, Art, and His New Book, Climbing Rock

Photographer: Irene Yee

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Las Vegas, Nevada

Favorite camera

Canon 5D Mark III with a 24-70mm f/2.8

Favorite place to shoot

It changes every time I go somewhere new. Liming, China, has the most beautiful lichen; Vedauwoo, Wyoming, has gritty, emotional climbing; Red Rock, Nevada, has an impressive landscape; Texas Canyon, California, has amazing rock texture; Squamish, British Columbia, has amazing light—everywhere new offers something different to be excited about.

Pro tip

Never give up the ground perspective. People often dismiss it, as it’s easy to lose height and scale, and you tend to get way more of a climber’s butt than their face. But if you can achieve a dynamic editorial shot from the ground, I guarantee it will be more interesting and creative then anything from a fixed line.

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Photographer: Andrew Burr

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Salt Lake City, Utah

Favorite camera

Canon 5D Mark IV with 24-70mm f/2.8, 70-200mm f/2.8, and 14mm f/2.4

Favorite place to shoot

Anywhere new, whether internationally or Stateside—I love the unknown canvas of a new area.

Pro tip

Adapt to your surroundings. While it’s somewhat important to have preconceived notions of images you’d like to create, be prepared to abandon all ideas and shoot naturally, determining the best way to document the location/person/setting within the given situation. You’ll become a pro when you can create a usable image even when everything’s going wrong.

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Related: Tires and Ice—Fat-Tire Biking into Alaska’s Hinterlands to Search for Frozen Bounty, by Andrew Burr

Photographer: Levi Harrell

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Boulder, Colorado

Favorite camera

Sony a7R II with a 16mm f/2.8 and 28mm f/2. 

Favorite place to shoot

Locally, the Flatirons, Colorado—the green lichen against the burnt-orange and brown rock adds cool contrast, plus the variety of routes means you’ll never have to shoot the same climb twice. Internationally, it’s Wye Creek, New Zealand, which holds ice climbing in winter, and in summer has one of the best backdrops of any crag I’ve been to.

Pro tip

Don’t get stuck in the rut of shooting every climb the same way. Look for unique angles and techniques when shooting a popular climb; look for a different perspective or shoot during a different time of day.

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See more Photo Annual galleries: