I knew I was in good hands when I arrived at Base Camp Bigfork and the owner, Mark, told me his last name is Schurke. Mark’s uncle Paul was one of the main participants in Will Steger’s 1986 expedition to the North Pole, which was chronicled in National Geographic Magazine’s 1986 cover story.
Mark, also an outdoor enthusiast, has developed a wonderful crew of traditional Inuit sled dogs that carries Base Camp visitors through the woods near Bigfork, Montana. I wanted to capture the dogs in all their excitement so I decided to photograph them running through a tunnel of snow-covered trees. I needed the sun to backlight the scene, helping make the dogs stand out from the clutter, but it completely disappeared while I was looking for the perfect curve on the trail. When we came out of the woods and onto a frozen lake, I figured out another way to make the dogs the focus of the picture. I couldn’t highlight my subject with lighting so I relied on a dynamic composition. Using a wide angle lens, I lay down in the snow and snapped a series of pictures as Mark’s assistant Ashley Gramlich sped by.
Photo Tip: One of the traditional photography rules of thumb is to have your main subject going from the edge of the picture into the center. You should never have it leaving the frame. Many photographers follow that rule; I broke it to make this resulting shot more arresting. While I was breaking boring rules, why not also leave the horizon crooked?
But if you ask me what I think really makes the picture work, I will say it’s the lead dog’s tongue.