Curtis Cunningham: Wonderful World of White

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Curtis grew up in Alberta around photographs and fondly remembers spending time with his grandfather looking through his slides. Photography became more serious when his mom bought him a Canon Rebel SLR to take with him when he went to China in 1994 to teach English. After classes he enjoyed walking for hours; photographing all the while. It was good preparation he sees now for his current love of exploration and story-telling.

Curtis and his wife got married in 2002 and after their son was born in 2003, they moved to Smithers, BC in 2007. He wanted a change of pace from where they were currently living in Abbotsford, BC. This gave him an opportunity to grow the freelance photography/graphic design business that he had started in 2004.

Curtis has done a wide range of photography over the years, from passports, family portraits, weddings and sports, to remote, on-site resource development projects. He has had the good fortune to exhibit some of his framed artwork in different galleries since moving to Northern BC, and is continually amazed by the abundant natural beauty that surrounds his home.

We are so captivated by your photography captured by your ski-touring adventures. Can you tell us how you got started ski-touring, and the impact it has made on your life?

I’ve struggled with the effects of fatigue since early 2007 (after being diagnosed with Chronic Gastritis and going on a restricted diet) 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.

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.

How did you get involved in taking photographs while ski-touring, and how did that lead to your new venture?

For as long as I can remember, the aspect of telling stories with my photography has been an important part of my life. So when I started skiing again in 2012 at our local ski hill, it was a natural thing for me to take my camera with me to document my adventures. That desire to photograph the places where went and the experiences I had simply carried over when I started ski-touring.

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

What inspired you to create Wonderful World of White, and what are your goals for the book?

Everything seems more beautiful under a blanket of snow. Ski-touring is where I am most at peace with myself and the world, and I needed a vehicle through which I could share my experiences and passions.

I have several goals with the book: 1) to share with others the beauty of the place where I ski, 2) to be an inspiration to others that there are still things you can do when faced with challenging life situations, 3) to challenge people to look at life from a different perspective, and 4) to help provide for my family through book sales.

What captivates you the most about winter sports and landscapes?

Who do you look up to and how does this person influence your sense of adventure?

What are some of your most memorable adventures?

1. Reaching the peak of Hudson Bay Mountain for the first time (thru ski-touring no less).

2. A roughly 3 hour hike in the summertime up a technical trail through dense forest, and then a scree-filled slope with my skis and boots on my backpack so I could make some turns on a glacier.

3. Spending an afternoon ski-touring in the tree line exploring new terrain.

We at This Adventure Life want to inspire our readers to get outside and live a life of adventure, exploration and pursuing their passions. What would your advice be for someone who wants to live fearlessly and pursue their wildest dreams?

Find something you’ve never done that sparks a sense of curiosity and wonder within you. Find someone who has experience doing whatever you choose, and ask them for help in getting started. Surround yourself with like-minded individuals who can encourage you on your journey.

Where is your next big adventure, and what will you be doing?

Getting this book published will be huge. It’s required (and will continue to require) a massive investment of time, energy and patience. There’s such a wide range of emotions involved, from despair and discouragement, to joy and exhilaration. Managing these things is most definitely an adventure.

I’m also planning another trip (requiring about a 3 hour drive followed by a couple hours of hiking) out to a glacier this summer. This is to keep my consecutive months of skiing streak going which currently stands at 21 months (and 29 out of the last 31 months).

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For the upcoming Kickstarter campaign (August 2017), here’s the promo video Curtis created to give a little background for his inspiring project.

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