A Coffee Table Book from the Slopes: Interview with Curtis Cunningham

In Adventure, Photography, XCSkiing by This Adventure LifeLeave a Comment

I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love a good coffee table book. The ones that grace my place are there not just because they make my room look a bit more sophisticated and colorful, but because they are filled with beautiful photographs, quotes and inspiring stories. I am always on the lookout for the next coffee table book that will inspire me to become a better photographer and explorer, and when I first spoke to Curtis Cunningham, I knew I had to know more about his upcoming book.

Curtis is currently in the middle of promoting his Kickstarter campaign to fund his project, a beautiful book titled Wonderful World of White.

Curtis has taken two of his passions, photography and backcountry ski-touring, and combined them with stories from his journey to create a unique book that inspires its readers to follow their passions and get outdoors.

What sets this book apart from most other coffee table books is that it also documents his journey of overcoming health issues by some serious outdoor therapy in Northern British Columbia’s most remote regions. His landscapes evoke a sense of beauty, peace and personal growth amongst a world we often view as lonely, isolated, and mysterious.

To me, his photographs show a close-up of a world people can only experience if they venture far enough. I am intrigued and inspired to make the journey to these almost untouched locations just to see for myself how the journey will change me. Until that point, I am honored to read the book and get a small taste of the backcountry tours.

Can you describe to us what motivated you to begin your journey ski-touring, and how it evolved into creating Wonderful World of White?

It started out with thinking of ski-touring as an idea I could try to help me lose weight and improve my physical health. I’ve struggled with the effects of fatigue since early 2007 and it got really bad during the summer of 2014. There were times during those months where it was a struggle to get off the sofa and do anything. So in August of 2014, I spent a month at a clinic in Mexico seeking answers through a variety of different treatment modalities. During that month, as I was free to focus on myself, and not have to worry about my wife and son, I started walking every day that I was in Tijuana. I managed to keep it up the whole time I was at the clinic, and when I returned to my home in Smithers, British Columbia at the end of the month, enough of a habit had been formed that I was able to keep going with this new exercise regime.

As I had a brief taste of ski touring earlier in 2014, I really wanted to do more of it during the ski season that was starting at the end of the year. So I knew that since I was overweight, I figured ski touring would be a great way to get exercise and help me regain some of the energy that I had lost.

I’ve been in love with photography all my life, and when I started downhill skiing again here in Smithers in 2012, I figured I should take my camera with me every day. I don’t remember having any grand plans apart from simply documenting the mountain, and telling the story of where I went and what I did with my camera. That passion only continued to grow when I started ski touring.

Since ski-touring gives me the ability to go where not everyone can or does aspire to, the number of images of the high and wild places near my home has dramatically increased. I’ve felt the passion I have for being outside in winter grow by leaps and bounds. The joy I get from sharing my images and experiences with others has only increased my desire to get out that much more.

I have a background in graphic design and love the tactile nature of holding a book in my hand. So when I coupled this passion for skiing, photography, and the printed page, it was an easy decision to take these loves in a new direction.

How do you hope your book helps its readers get inspired to get out and seek their own adventures?

By showing them that despite whatever challenges they have in their life, there is beauty all around them, even in hard-to-reach places. And that this beauty can begin a process of healing in their lives.

What has the process of creating the book, from concept to Kickstarter completion, been like for you?

It’s been equal parts rewarding and challenging. The design aspect of the book has been the easiest and most enjoyable. The greatest challenge has been spreading word about the project. I’ve spent countless hours doing things I’ve never done before with no guarantee that they will produce the results I am looking for.

What have you learned about yourself from the process?

That I still have a lot to learn about not worrying about things that are beyond my control.

What is it about the backcountry that keeps you coming back?

As a photographer, the backcountry gives me the opportunity to witness unparalleled beauty. Furthermore, it gives me a place to relax and forget about the challenges in my own life.

What is about winter that appeals to you most, and how do you hope to instill that sense of wonder in your readers?

I love the peace and tranquility that comes with a world covered in white by sharing examples of beauty found in things not typically thought of as beautiful.

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