"MY NAME IS Jeffry Hesse, and I’m a Product Manager. More importantly however, I’m someone who wants to inspire others to care for the planet. From the time I was a young child to today, I’ve felt connected to the world around me. This connection has taken me a number of routes in life, one of the most recent as being a Product Manager at National Geographic. While I felt a very deep connection with what I was doing there, I didn’t feel that it was enough. I wanted to give more.
I’ve always been drawn to the arts, even if I was primarily minded towards the sciences, and at some point I realized I really liked photography. Over the past three or four years, I’ve spent a lot of time shooting photos of the world around me. At points it was just to document how beautiful it is, at other points it was to capture the beauty of others in the world, and at more recent points it is to show the world changing.
I’ve decided to try and make a difference.
We continue to watch the world rapidly change around us, whether it’s socially, culturally, or physically. Sometimes, and I think most of the time we feel helpless to do anything and if there is something I’ve come to realize about being a millennial, it is that the world is full of so many problems. You don’t know where to start. You don’t know if you can start. Isn’t the work of saving this place best left to those who took exhaustive hours of schooling? Why is it my place? Can I even make a difference?
MY GRANDMOTHER HAS lived in Alaska since 1963. As a child I would occasionally come to visit from Southern California, and I’d see sights that were mind blowing. Massive mountains covered in snow. Gigantic moving creatures of ice formed by the snow deposited on these mountains. I can’t remember the first time I fell in love with glacier, I surmise it was early. I can certainly remember when I became reconnected with my love.
In the meantime, the talks around climate change have “heated up” to use a really bad pun. A lot of great work has surfaced in the meantime such as “Chasing Ice” featuring one hero of mine, James Balog. However, there appears to still be some confusion as to what is occurring in the world. Something I’ve believed for quite some time is that we need to lead by example, and if we can’t change others around us to understand the changes we are making to the world, we need to at least make the evidence clear. I’m not an accomplished scientist. I dropped out of high school to be precise. However, I’m someone who wants others to see what is happening to this world, if only because they have to see it through me. In the past year I was lucky enough to obtain a job where I can work from any corner of the world that has reasonable internet, and where I’m willing to wake up at certain times. I’ve used every spare minute aside from work and every extra dollar I’ve had for the past few years to try and continue to amass more and more photos, film, whatever, of a world that continues to change in front of my eyes. I’m bringing the story to the people around me, and instead of politicizing it, I’m just showing it the best I can.
AS HAPPENS TO some children who become adults, you can get disconnected from your family. I luckily was able to reconnect with them in 2010 when I was brought to Arizona by an interesting circumstance. No matter how interesting the circumstance, I ended up spending time having fun with my Grandparents. They invited me to come visit more often in Alaska, so I took them up on that offer. I’d fly up in winter, spend a couple weeks with them, and then fly back. The first trip back up, I coaxed my Dad into driving me down to Portage Glacier near Whittier, Alaska. On the trip down from Anchorage, you pass one beautiful sight after another until you get sick of it, kidding of course. Finally, you arrive at an area where you can hike around. Unfortunately, you cannot see Portage Glacier from this area. Disheartened, I trudged through hip-deep snow, and hiked back to a lesser known glacier to the side of Portage called Byron. What I saw was deep blues peeking from beneath packs of snow, and it was breathtaking. I knew I’d just seen something that would change my world forever, much more powerful than anything I’d seen before.
Fast forward a few years, I'm still obsessed with glaciers.
I want to show the world that just an average person can also help, and inspire others to take their privilege or opportunity, and use it to help. I most importantly want to show the most important people in my life the changes in the world around us, so that maybe they can also feel inspired to help.
Themes in my current work as a photographer are the power of the glacial systems and how it affects us; feminism, and the radical ladies of Science/Adventure (Sandra, Chelsea and Dorothy, I’m looking at you!); [and] climate Change and how it is affecting low elevation and smaller glaciers. In the past year I’ve gone on the following expeditions, joy rides, and otherwise to help tell this story:
Self Guided - Patagonia, Torres Del Paine, O Circuit, February 2014
Self Guided - Byron Glacier, Alaska, November 2014
Self Guided - Patagonia, Torres Del Paine, W Circuit, March 2015
Self Guided - Byron Glacier, Alaska, June 2015
Thrukon Expedition - Spencer and Matanuska Glaciers, July 2015
Alaska Geographic Citizen Science Expedition - Middle Fork Toklat Glacier, August 2015
Glacier Traversal and Crevasse Rescue Course - Matanuska Glacier, August 2015
Self Guided - Portage Glacier, Alaska, August 2015
Self Guided - Milk Glacier, Alaska, August 2015
Self Guided - Byron Glacier, Alaska, November 2015
I really dig shooting portraits in extremely wild places and only using natural light. I’m not adverse to flash, but I enjoy coming to learn how to harness the power of the sun as it pertains to photography. I as well really enjoy using negative space to call attention to other structures as of late. In general, I like to do things in what I consider an odd way. I’m not a contrarian but I grew up punk, and so a desire to do things left of center I feel has arisen as a result. While this doesn’t dominate my choices on approach, it certainly has influenced it.
I shoot only film for photography nowadays, for a multitude of reasons. For one, I want to use a format with the most information density available to document these sights. I’m a student of Ansel Adams in many ways, and I also use some of the same cameras that he used to document the world around him, like the Hasselblad 500C/M, and now, Large Format. For two, the aesthetic breathes old life into familiar concepts. There is something about seeing a Velvia photo of a glacier that I just can’t replicate with digital.