I had the incredible pleasure to be chosen to join the Something Independent Founder’s Series filmmakers, which is a project Chuck Sullivan started to highlight both colorado folks who are doing what they love and are passionate about, along with a local filmmaker who captures and tells their story, or in my case, just a little nugget of who these people are. I had the honor to head down to Buena Vista with Chuck, Ally, Cat and Jeff for a day, really just a little moment, to capture a little bit about Lenny and Amy and their Deerhammer Distillery Company. For the full story/blog and beautifully crafted piece head to SI’s piece here. Here’s just a small touch of what I saw //

Joy. Pure, unaltered, little kid joy. It’s the feeling you’re told as a kid to go out in the world and find, but then as soon as you become a teen everyone steers you away from in search of this unattainable ‘success’ we call chasing paychecks and stacking cash. When we dropped in to the Arkansas River, that was all you saw from the entire being that makes up Lenny Eckstein, joy. Lenny and Amy moved to Buena Vista because they wanted to. Out of a desire to live in a place where mountains, river, and the purest air smashed into each other. And distilling was this passion that started small and kept getting watered. As it grew, so did this realization that it was taking over a majority of thoughts spinning in Lenny’s head. He had no choice but to listen.

And he listened. And that, that moment when he dropped everything and said, “This is it.” It was in that moment when he found a deeper, more satisfying joy. It generally takes something like 2 years before you get whiskey to a place where it becomes profitable, but who cares when you’re chasing dreams. Lenny and Amy are making booze, riding the river, and taking evening bike tours with their pup, Rye, around Buena Vista, which lays in the Arkansas Valley surrounded by the Collegiate Peaks and is a town filled with good people. It’s not all sparkles and shine, but the moments of joy are frequent and strong.

It’s a great feeling to be surrounded by such a rad community of people chasing after what their hearts desire. Thank you to Colorado for such a warm welcome after just a year that we’ve been replanted here. Last night, at the premiere event at Local 46, standing on stage listening to Lenny and Amy talk about their recent pregnancy news, how they went on a trip and he was constantly thinking about getting home to try another version of gin, about how life handed them such a perfect storm of opportunity, it felt so good. Humble people the Eckstein’s are, and whether Deerhammer Distilling is successful in the long run or not, it really doesn’t matter, because they chose the road less traveled, and for that, I have the deepest respect.

Cheers Lenny and Amy. Congratulations on the new addition to your workforce. I can only wish you both the most grand of lives. Thank you for your inspiration – I’ll be bringing everyone I know to your main street building, to try the whiskey, but mostly to soak up the intensely good juju you all give off.

Until next time — godspeed.

Be sure to check out the beautifully designed full post with more pictures and a lot more story/graphics over at the official post here.

  • José Daniel Expósito Marco - Hi 😀

    First say that I love your website and your photos, simeplemente wanted to ask a question.

    That effect utilizais for black and white photos? Film VSCO is?

    Really ThanksReplyCancel

  • Jess - Love those black and white pictures! Is that a VSCO filter? Awesome work!ReplyCancel

{this is the 2.35 version, for the 1.77/16 x 9 version visit here}


“Give Love. Be Lite.” – Hayden

I have had a list of things I’ve wanted to discuss on here, just thoughts that have led to deeper conversations with Kels. The problem is, every time I get close to putting words to screen, I jam up and convince myself I am not an expert on said topic. Yet, it’s a direct contradiction to my strong feelings I have against the wannabe image most of us color in of ourselves. It’s so easy to curate only the good parts of oneself. But life isn’t always cherry pie on a sunny afternoon.

I recently had the pleasure to assist Ryan Booth on a shoot and had a solid chunk of time to chat while driving around scouting the mountains of Colorado. One of the discussions we plucked at for a while was about our desire to do shit that matters. So much of my current log of hours on this planet is put toward making advertisements for stuff. And by all means, one must feed and clothe thy body, but is it possible to do that while also productively moving forward stories that inspire, push forth a cause, experiences, things that make this planet a better place?

Ryan has a project called SerialBox Presents. It’s a collection of gorgeous one take live music performances of bands that carry passion. Sit the band down, play beautiful music, capture it from a few angles, in brilliant settings, and share to the world. Passion. Just watch Zach Williams passion in this piece // vimeo.com/49213651

This is what I want to capture. Content that matters, that inspires, that pushes us all forward, to be better humans. Let’s do this. Go on. Be good. Be kind. Give love. Be lite.

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photos taken on a recent hike up Mt. Huron, Colorado // the video was made for this Happyolks Post. remember, go do good.

  • Ion - Dear Shaun, you and Kelsey (say hello to her) do a wonderful job .You as a filmmaker and she as a Chef 😀 Congrats, another lovely story .

    And now, the technical part : the movie is shoot RAW first (ML firmware) after that resized/upscaled ? which original settings resolution/fps ? all the best, thanks .ReplyCancel

    • Shaun - Thanks Lon! Actually didn’t shoot this one raw, just regular h.264. Hopefully will make raw a more prominent feature in the future, but until some of the quirks get ironed out, we are sticking to original files. Cheers!ReplyCancel

  • ION - Thanks. anyway, once again you have demonstrated that the message is more important and the subject of the story vs. how it’s shot, no matter which kind of shooting standard you have chosen. Best regards,ReplyCancel

Oh, there’s a river that winds on forever
I’m gonna see where it leads
Oh, there’s a mountain that no man has mounted
I’m gonna stand on the peak

Out there’s a land that time don’t command
Wanna be the first to arrive
No time for ponderin’ why I’m-a wanderin’
Not while the…

To the ends of the earth, would you follow me
There’s a world that was meant for our eyes to see
To the ends of the earth, would you follow me
If you will have a say my goodbyes to me

— Lord Huron

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Photos taken on the Torres del Paine full circuit in Patagonia. We trekked 86 miles in 8 days, and these photographs don’t give the park near the credit it’s beauty deserves. Kelsey describes it in much more eloquently; check out her Pisco Sour post and brilliant summary over on Happyolks.

  • Juliette - Amazing, this makes me so excited to go out as soon as possible and just go..ReplyCancel

  • Ion - Freaking amazing Shaun! 5D MKII + 24-70 all the way?ReplyCancel

    • Shaun - Hey Ion – thanks for the kind words. 5DMII and actually the 50 1.2 all the way through the trek. The post below (A Special Tribe), was shot 95% on the 24-70.ReplyCancel

  • Gem To Ponder: Expect - […] [image credit: Shaun Boyte] […]ReplyCancel

  • Amanda - Love the photos and love Lord Huron. Looks like a grand adventure.ReplyCancel

  • Amanda - Your photography is so inspirational. I sat down and sketched mountains all night last night because of it. Thanks for sharing your adventures with the world.ReplyCancel

  • B-Dam A - Didn’t even know these were up you sneaky man! Shots look great… man, I need to get down there!ReplyCancel

  • Sabin - These are great, Shaun! Love the story it tells. What VSCO preset did you use?ReplyCancel

    • Shaun - Thanks Sabin. Honestly, I couldn’t even tell you. I don’t have a go to when it comes to presets, and make so many adjustments afterwards, it’s hard to say. Love VSCO as a solid base though! Cheers – sbReplyCancel

It was on the ride from the Calama airport to Casa De Don Tomas, in San Pedro de Atacama, that I actually realized how beautifully remote and desolate this race would be. A six stage, seven day, self supported (everything but water and a canvas tent) journey through a 250km (155 miles) hot, windy, high altitude course.

There were some 180 of us that headed out in a caravan of buses, 149 incredibly brave souls of whom would toe the start line, anticipating what they couldn’t on that ride out to camp one. Sunset and night fall, we watched as the Milky Way lit up the sky, lights out then sunrise, and Racing the Planet‘s 9th Atacama Crossing was born.

I am really not sure what to say after this point. You see, this is where everything melds into a world that almost becomes indescribable. We became a tribe, a group of survivors. The runners became the warriors, the support staff and volunteers a small link to the precious resources of any desert, water and shade. It just all happened, and I had the best seat in the house.

Thiago Diz, who is an incredible human, photographer and now lifelong friend (he was along to photograph the brilliant story of the blind Brazilian Vladmi dos Santos and guide Alex for Outside Magazine Brazil), myself and our driver Christian, set forth. Chasing after the best vantage points, we traveled some 250km+ by car and 70km+ by foot throughout the week. We witnessed the warriors fly down thousand foot sand dunes, trudge through knee deep river crossings, salt flats, Mars like terrain, all between 8,000 and 10,000 feet of altitude.

There were no showers. Just a will. Deep down, to do everything possible to get from the start line to the first check point, then reassess and get to the next. One step at a time. Freeze dried food and lukewarm water became a luxury each night. I didn’t experience the exact same journey, but by the second day, I could feel the athletes pain, through their eyes, posture, blisters. Running along side, climbing mountains of crumbling volcanic ash deposits, sitting in the rivers, I tried to get the closest to the journey as possible without distracting or slowing it.

And what an incredible display of pushing the human experience to the edge I witnessed. Some may question why anyone would ever subject themselves to such a brutal mental and physical challenge, and I think the athletes themselves would all admit to asking that very question at least twice a day, but that’s the part no one will ever know unless you too experience the ultimate triumph you feel at the finish line.

When I was walking backwards on course the 3.5k from check point four on stage four to a makeshift water station in the middle of the 104 degree salt flats, I came across Andrew Espin of South Africa who summed it up as he ran by, “It has now officially changed from a running to a religious experience.”

There are so many more words I could type to convey the feelings deep within, the many lives we lived, the brother and sisterhoods developed, but I want to pause, and allow it all to soak in.

Thank you so much Racing the Planet staff, Alina, Sam, Ross, Mary, Alistair, and all the volunteers. A huge thank you to all the athletes who allowed me to run along side you shooting away and get all up in your grill when you were exhausted.

And an even bigger thank you to my new brother, Thiago Diz, who pushed me to dig deeper to get the best possible shot. You can see a shot of Thiago flying down the dunes taking a photograph of Vlad and Alex about halfway down below.

Cheers to you all until the next time we meet…Gobi anyone?!

The following are some of my favorite images from the week. You can see the entire collection at Racing the Planet’s Atacama Crossing photo display.

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  • A.B. - The progression of emotion in this string of photos speaks to the race and to the tenacity of the people participating… and to put it plainly, you nailed it! As always, I’m super impressed!ReplyCancel

  • Christian Mazza - These shots look great, love the color. You’re making me miss South America, I spent a few years living in Argentina.ReplyCancel

  • Laurie - I love the way you display human spirit. I seldom read your blog without tears and this one is no exception. Nice work!!ReplyCancel

  • Judi - One of our dear friends competed in the race. Thank you for putting it so eloquently, not only in words, but in the images you captured. Well done.ReplyCancel

  • phil - Hearing about this race doesn’t do it justice – your pictures give us a glimpse of what the 180 of you experienced. Thank you for your gift – I am moved.ReplyCancel

  • patti - Stunning! You captured every emotion conceivable to the human spirit, which can only be done by someone who is committed to be fully immersed in the experience and connecting with each person so that they comfortably welcome you to “get in their grill.” YOU….are an exquisite artist on so many levels!ReplyCancel

  • Leny - Ready, worn down, hopeful, triumphant. We get to feel all of these emotions in these shots. Cant wait for the next journey.ReplyCancel

  • Grant Maughan #89 Atacama Crossing 2013 - The images from your fine lensmanship choked me up.
    Its hard to relive an ordeal with someone from behind your own eyes so we need these frozen-in-time images as a shrine to the moment that will never again be.
    When the desert strips you down to your bare foundations emotion is all you have left….ReplyCancel

  • kaye - Congratulations!!
    With each of these Races comes the
    sheer joy exhaustion satisfaction pain and that overwhelming smile of delight to finish
    Pictures are a 1000 words
    and you have given us insight into each of these athletes
    adventure through your lense
    No doubt sharing and feeling all their emotions
    Thank youReplyCancel

  • Tess - These pictures are fantastic. Wow.ReplyCancel

When Mike originally proposed shooting a brand film for his new business, and conveniently added the potential of also photographing his wedding, I smiled. Then a week later he tossed a wedding video into the mix, just to keep things interesting. Couldn’t have been more stoked to hang out with Mel and Mike over their wedding weekend. I grabbed Adam and we each tossed two cameras over our shoulders and captured their super rad, light, beautiful day in stills and motion. (also, huge thanks to Ali for editing the stills…insane.)

Mike and Mel —

Your love is rich. The positive energy radiates, and it was special to stand behind bushes and chase you around for a day, watching as you committed to each other a lifetime of adventures and a winding journey through stages and chapters of great mystery, struggle, and powerful love. Thank you for inviting Adam and I to capture a brilliant celebration of it all. Cheers to the next 75 years!

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