Adventure Photographer Jason Hummel’s Alpine State of Mind

Ski photographer and writer Jason Hummel wears a bright, broad smile. And he certainly has something to be happy about. As of the first week of December, he’s raised more than $7,000 through his Kickstarter campaign, successfully surpassing its goal. This means he’ll be printing 500 copies of the first issue of his brainchild, the Alpine State of Mind Journal. The retail price is $28.00.

Hummel, a frequent contributor to Backcountry Magazine, quit his job as a financial advisor is 2009 to pursue his passion for photography and embark on wild ski adventures. Through photos and text, this journal is a way to share “that raw, real and honest point of view that comes from the soul,” he writes on his campaign.


A screenshot from the first issue of Alpine State of Mind.

Backcountry: Tell me about what you’re doing with your journal/book. You state that you want to share feelings and perspective of being in the mountains, above the streams, etc. Can you expand on that?

Jason Hummel: I wanted something physical, to touch and feel what I created. To make this journal reminds me of art class as a kid, and seeing my sculpture pulled from the kiln. It doesn’t feel the same when my work is thrown into the winds of the Internet or, worse yet, when it is buried in my hard drives. Pictures and stories are never viewed again and lost. Putting this journal out there, I am forced to finish and to present. In other word[s], like art class as a kid, I have to put my sculpture in the kiln and cross my fingers that what I imagined comes out just as beautiful as I pictured. No matter what, in the end, I have in my hands a thing that I made.

It isn’t just about the extreme or remote or difficult or whatever other qualifier one may have. Those are all relative. A first time backcountry skier’s adventure may be all of the above, but that isn’t what attracts me to the story. If I know how that person felt, then they are humanized. That strikes much deeper.

BCM: Why are you making the book, and what does it mean to you as far as getting these stories/images out there? 

JH: Too many stories are BIG stories. I wanted to share the smaller stories. Celebrate adventures on the everyday scale. Take my first journal, for example. In it, I shared three ski mountaineering stories that are close to home. If you are a moderate ski mountaineer, you can do these adventures. In the future, in other journals, I will do the same for hiking, biking, climbing, etc.

BCM: Why did you turn to Kickstarter? Do you consider this a unique approach to getting your journal off the ground?

JH: Joining Kickstarter wasn’t what I originally wanted to do. At first I thought that I could get the project off the ground by myself. Then I worried. Was I being overzealous? Would I be printing 500 journals just to shove them to the corner of my garage, unopened and unsold? With Kickstarter, I could quantify the demand. I would be able to see for sure if others were as passionate about the project as I was.

It is unique in that those that [who] supported me [already] follow me on social media. They are invested in my imagery and stories already. In this way, platforms such as Kickstarter allow for a unique way to fund personal projects.

BCM: It sounds like you poured a great deal of personal emotions and art into this project (and your career). Can you tell me how it feels putting this journal together? And being a photographer yourself. 

JH: I did put a lot of heart and soul into this project. I wanted it to be worth people’s time. The outdoors are important to me. You are with [friends]. You are surrounded by sights that aren’t manicured. These are a few of the benefits. Yet, no matter how much we are immersed in nature, most of us have to return home. When we are home, it is good to be reminded of what nature has to offer. This journal shows that with pictures and words.

Being a photographer is a balancing act I would’ve never have guessed to be as challenging as it is. Nevertheless, without challenge, there is no growth. Photography has allowed me to grow as a person. My office is wherever my camera is.

BCM: Why did you choose this cover image?

JH: It moved me. Mt. Adams is also meaningful to me. I’ve skied this mountain since I was six years old. Its north face, where this photo is taken, [is where] I began exploring as a teenager. There are a lot of memories buried in the snows on this mountain. So, while the cover is flashy, it [reminds] me of those past memories. It was a scary moment. It is not often we jump this big in the backcountry, especially in July.


Cover image of issue one.

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