To see more of Bruno’s photos from high altitudes, follow @brungraciano on Instagram.
“In most sports, you either win or lose. But climbing is about your own personal experience,” says 28-year-old Brazilian rock climber and photographer Bruno Graciano (@brungraciano). Bruno began climbing at the age of 15 near his hometown in Minas Gerais. Back then, his mother encouraged him to focus on his schoolwork. “Like any good mother, she would say, ‘Go study, there is no future in climbing,’” Bruno recalls.
Although Bruno is a seasoned climber, he is no stranger to fear. “I have been scared many times,” he says. “The danger of heights and the emptiness beneath you me are constants, but the confidence in my equipment gives me the reassurance I need to keep going.”
Nowadays, Bruno has found his calling as a professional photographer focused on outdoor sports, allowing him to combine his passion for photography with his athletic skills. Although Bruno has climbed in several different countries, one of his favorite climbing spots is Serra do Cipó, in his native Brazil. “The views are surreal and you can find climbers from all different backgrounds and skill levels there,” he says. Climbing in Brazil is different from other places, especially due to the country’s soaring daytime temperatures. “To adapt to the heat, we often climb at night,” Bruno explains. Like photography, climbing allows Bruno to get creative. “Every climb is different, and you are always faced with something new,” he says. “That is very inspiring.”
Henri Cartier-Bresson coined the phrase the decisive moment to describe the instant when the action before the lens is not simply captured by the photographer, but organized in such a way as to give it power and grace, balance and form. Decisive moments are not always the same for the athletes or fans as they are for photographers. Capturing the winning touchdown, the diver’s perfect entry into the water, the power of a skier racing in the giant slalom, can establish an imagine in sports eternity, but is not necessarily decisive moment in the photographic sense. Photographers have a responsibility to satisfy their editors and the public, who often seek only the highlights of the game. However, the finest photographers are able to fulfill this responsibility and seek to make pictures that are greater than a single defining action, pictures with aesthetic qualities that last through time.
Joerg Mitter emphasizes that there is a lot of “calculated risk” in extreme sports. The athletes have to trust the photographers because everyone is together in challenging and dangerous situations. In extreme sports photography, there are no second chances. Mitter considers everything, including the backgrounds, and must preconceptualize the picture. The athletes keep their stunts real, and Mitter would also never photoshop a picture.
Joerg Mitter (Austrian, born 1980). Levi Sherwood of New Zealand performs in front of the St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow’s Red Square, Russia, June 24, 2010. Color photograph. Joerg Mitter // Limex Images
To see more of Carl’s highline views, follow @carlmarrs on Instagram.
“It’s like, ‘Yeah I’m out here balancing on a one-inch-wide [2.5 cm] band of nylon fibers above a great drop, and I feel really good about it. Yeah, I like this. This is good.’” Welcome to the inner-dialogue of Carl Marrs (@carlmarrs), a 23-year-old climber and highliner from Seattle. Highlining is slacklinging – walking on webbing that is fixed to two anchors – but at elevation. “I think it’s cool that as human beings our mind has the power to transform a situation from something dangerous into something exhilarating,” Carl says. But before ever becoming attracted to the adrenaline of great heights, Carl was inspired by the photographs of climbers and highliners he admired.
Carl started climbing with high school friends in 2010 and later discovered a passion for slacklining during a trip with to Yosemite, the site where some believe slacklining was invented. “I’ve slacklined as much as possible since then and don’t see any signs of slowing down,” he says. Through slacklining, Carl has found more than just an athletic challenge with amazing views. He has found belonging in a vibrant community. “The times I’ve spent at highline festivals surrounded by the tribe are the best of my life,” Carl says.
While Carl enjoys being out on the ropes with fellow athletes as well as sharing his photographs with a diverse community, he also values the meditative and solitary feeling he gets out in the wilderness. “The best moments come when I’m out in the middle of a highline, comfortably balancing, feeling a light breeze blow by and hearing nothing but the calls of swooping birds echoing through the canyons hundreds of feet below me.”
To see more photos and videos from the lives of skateboarding stars Nyjah Huston and Leticia Bufoni, follow @nyjah and @leticiabufoni on Instagram.
American skateboard superstar Nyjah Huston (@nyjah) and Brazilian skateboard champion Leticia Bufoni (@leticiabufoni) both love big air, skating rails and pushing their limits. “I would say our styles are pretty similar as far as work ethic and trying to push ourselves to do the hardest and biggest stuff we can,” says Nyjah. Leticia agrees on their similar styles but adds a caveat: “He skates big stuff, like really big stuff. I like big stuff but not as big as the stuff he skates.”
This weekend Nyjah and Leticia are each competing in the Skateboard Street events at the summer X Games (@xgames) in Austin, Texas. But it’s more than the awards and recognition that motivates them to progress as athletes. “What gets me up in the morning to keep skating, honestly is the progression of skateboarding,” says Nyjah. “There’s always new stuff to learn, and there’s always ways to get better at it. There’s so many ways to keep it fun,” he adds. Leticia feels the same way. “The skateboarding is the same, it’s the other things that are different,” she says. “Going out there and learning tricks, it’s the same. When I am at the skate park or at competitions it looks like I’m 10 years old again skating and having fun.”