Friday, March 20, 2015

Between the Water's Edge...An Interview with Darin McQuoid

 Darin McQuoid grew up exploring and hiking river canyons. Little did he know he would turn it into a career. It was only a matter of time that he would learn to photograph and kayak those same whitewater-filled valleys and share that perspective with the world.
 McQuoid, a California based photographer and white water paddler, has kayaked most of the world on international expeditions to Africa, Pakistan, India, Chile, Argentina, Slovenia, France, Japan, along with trips into Mexico and Canada as well as the USA. With an eye for action, his photographs have been published in National Geographic, Outside, Canoe and Kayak, Kayak Session, Paddler, Rapid Magazine, Kanu and many other publications. Last week we talked to McQuiod about his kayaking, photography and passion for adventure.

NC: How many days did you spend kayaking last year?
DM: The drought made last year tough, but I managed to get out about a hundred days, thanks in a large part to British Columbia.

NC: You are an accomplished kayaker and photographer that enables you to mix both worlds of exciting images and daring exploits. Which came first, the love of photography or whitewater kayaking?
DM: When I started kayaking I was amazed at how little information I could find on rivers I was curious about, so a camera was purchased just to share some of the great places we get to see. 

NC: I try to get a good picture every time I go out on the water.  How about you? Do you need a picture or do you try something new every time you go out? 
DM: I always bring my camera on the river, and most days take at least a couple photographs I've been thinking about. The camera gets left behind two or three days a year. That's added up to 160,000 kayaking shots since I started. 

NC: In your portfolio, it looks like you hike into some pretty remote places to get images of your fellow kayakers. How does it all work? Do you plan out the image and have them make several runs or is all timing & luck?
DM: High end kayaking is dangerous business. I've never asked anyone to run a rapid or waterfall twice, yet I wouldn't consider getting the shot luck either. Whitewater photography lends itself to previsualization. In class V there is generally one line, and as an experienced kayaker I'm able to see that line and know where the fundamental moment of expectation and action will happen. Then I wait for the paddler to get there and it's all about timing. Long term previsualization is knowing what time of day to shoot certain angles for good light.

NC: You have gone down some major whitewater rivers throughout the world as both a photographer and a paddler. Are they all different experiences?
DM: For sure they are. I feel a lot more stress on a paid trip where I need to produce results. It's still fun but a very different experience than paddling with friends for pure fun. It also tends to up the class of a river. On top of dealing with logistics for navigating the river there is a lot of energy spend hiking around to get a good angle for photographs, and mentally you always have to be on and thinking, anticipating the next shot.

NC: What is the strangest thing you have seen on the river?
DM: I have not seen anything too crazy, just some great wildlife moments like bears swimming across and a reindeer swimming in Newfoundland. The strangest things seem to happen while running shuttle, there are some interesting people out there.

 NC: You have been around. However, is there a river or area you want to photograph & paddle that you just haven't been to yet? 
 DM: Oh too many to list, Myanmar would be number one, Réunion Island would be incredible, Kamchatka peninsula and there is still a lot more stuff in Patagonia that would be great to explore. 

NC: You said, "Being a great kayaker is not just about kayaking skill. It's also about being an ambassador for the sport on and off the water, as well as being a true team player on the water." Like you, I find everyone is pretty much your friend when they have a paddle in their hand. Why in  such a competitive world is there such alliance in the world of kayaking? 
 DM: It's such a small fringe sport it lends itself to a tight knit community. Plus unlike skiing, just because someone else went first doesn't mean the line is tracked out.

Web Site and/or Blog Site Link: www.darinmcquoid.com