It’s survival of the fittest and photographer Kevin Steele can vouch for that all too well from his own work. Recently Photo Editor Genny Fullerton of Backpacker Magazine asked Kevin to shoot portraiture for a survival story “Lost and Injured in the Desert.”
Backpacker always comes back to Kevin for the honesty and visual depth he brings to every assignment. “We know we can rely on him to get the shoot done with all the options we’re looking for. I’d describe his work as… natural and vibrant. I love having him work with the people we need portraits of; never a doubt that he’ll open them up for some candid expressions and always in love with the way light ends up glowing on their skin... amplifying the personality even more” says Fullerton. It was supposed to be just a day-trip hike. Roger Dannen, 75, slipped 60 feet down a rock face in remote Indian Canyons, near Palm Springs, California in January 2018.
He was injured, lost direction and managed to survive three days in the desert without food or water in freezing temperatures. Trust and a personal connection are essential in creating great portraiture. Kevin met at Roger’s house for coffee the day before the shoot to chat and to share stories. “As an outdoor adventurer I’ve had my share of epics as well. Our connection helped to create a relaxing environment the following morning for someone who is not used to being photographed,” says Kevin. A speck in the desert to be swallowed up at any time, never seeing loved ones again—these thoughts crossed Roger’s mind as he wandered battered and alone in the canyon. He would not allow the desert to kill him.
His face tells the story in every picture— quiet strength, determination, humility and awe for nature's harsh beauty. Kevin’s portraiture connects on the most visceral level. It puts us in the moment, and we can’t help but wonder if we would have the courage and resilience to survive such an ordeal. See more of Kevin’s work in “Lost and Injured in the Desert” here https://www.backpacker.com/survival/lost-and-injured-in-the-desert