National Geographic Traveler magazine is celebrating its 30th anniversary this fall. To commemorate this milestone, we asked 12 of our longtime photographers to select their favorite images shot on assignment for Traveler throughout the past three decades. We will be publishing these images, along with stories behind the photographs, throughout the month of November.
Today, we hear from photographer Michael Melford about the image above, which he shot for Traveler in 1995.
While on assignment in the Adirondack Mountains of New York for National Geographic Traveler, I found this great location at a pond that had Whiteface Mountain in the background. Having photographed a gentleman earlier that day who restores Adirondack guide boats, I thought it would be a great location to photograph one of them. As I’m a fly-fisherman myself, I envisioned a shot here with someone standing up in the boat, casting with the fly rod at dawn.
So the boat was loaned to me, and I arranged for a local fishing guide to meet me at 5 a.m. for the sunrise shot. I had to carry the boat into this location, and I put it down at water’s edge and waited for the guide. And I waited and waited, but he was a no-show. Being disappointed that he didn’t show, I had no choice but to work the shot with just the boat, as the light was right. After having shot from shore, I got in and rowed around the pond and fell in love with this beautiful boat.
I ended up buying it, and that was an expensive day!
But the shot ended up on the cover of Traveler, and I was really happy that the guide didn’t show up that day!
I took the boat home with me to the coast of Mystic, Connecticut, and had many wonderful hours rowing along the shoreline. The boat ended up paying for itself, as I used it as a prop for other shots. One in particular was a shot for Fortune magazine. They were doing a special issue on retirement and wanted me to go anywhere I wanted in the country to make an image that said, “I want to retire here!” So I put the boat in the water, down the street from where I live, and made a shot from my vantage point, with the bow of the boat as the foreground. They loved the shot, and that day the boat was paid for.
Photo tip: Photography can sometimes be about problem solving. In this case, I saw in my mind’s eye an image that I wanted. I problem solved to get what I had envisioned. It didn’t come together, so I had to be nimble enough to make something out of what I had to work with.
See more of Michael Melford’s work at MichaelMelford.com.