The Patagonian part of the Andes in the south of Chile and Argentina has one of the most rugged mountain ranges in the world. The roads in the sparsely populated area are rough, the weather is unpredictable and adventure is always just around the corner. It’s a place only for experienced travellers to roam – the right vehicle provided. Emilie Ristevski and Jason Charles Hill travel to the most remote destinations of the world, capturing images of breathtaking landscapes and untouched nature. The freedom to go places is something they cherish. They need this freedom and independence to create their extraordinary work and push the limits of their photography skills. Constantly being on the road together isn’t always easy, so we decided to question them separately. They talked to us about the meaning of travel, the perks of travelling with your partner, and what you can find #onlyinpatagonia.
He says: I was working in a regular nine-to-five office job in my hometown Brisbane, Australia. On my weekends, I enjoyed being outdoors, hiking and getting lost in the wilderness that surrounds the area. Out there, I fell in love with taking photos and capturing moments of my journeys. Through my social media channels I was able to get some work from companies based in Australia. This elevated my profile and pushed me into leaving my stable office job and taking the risk to pursue my passion. I have been a successful full-time travel photographer for three years now.
She says: I’ve been travelling and photographing my adventures around the world for the last few years. Initially, I started photography by capturing everyday life and things that inspired me. My work eventually developed and I started experimenting with styles of photography and it opened up a whole new world for me. Since then, I haven’t stopped being behind the camera and have been shooting full time for the past four years.
He says: Originally, travel used to be a holiday for me to learn things about the world. Through the job, I travel on a day-to-day basis now and I feel very lucky to do so. I can’t stand still for longer than a week. I just need to try that next destination and see what is on the other side of that mountain.
She says: Travelling now is bittersweet; I love travelling and I am so grateful for every moment I have and for experiencing new cultures and discovering destinations. At the same time, when travelling for work, you don’t get to slow down. At times, travelling non-stop can become a blur. I always try to put the camera down once in a while and take a minute not to look through the lens and to really appreciate a moment.
He says: I don’t think you could travel through Patagonia the way we planned without a car. Taking public transport can be quite challenging. We were really lucky to have the G-Class with us in Patagonia. Its off-road capabilities gave us the opportunity to access the destinations we wanted to.
She says: Having the G-Class was definitely the perfect way to travel through Patagonia. The roads there are insane so you definitely need a 4WD. Travelling on the road for hours driving through endless desert until the next mountain range was an adventure in itself. Not knowing when you will be able to fill up with petrol or what is going to happen when you have a flat tire … But facing those challenges is all a part of the journey.
He says: I am extremely privileged and lucky to travel the world with such a special person. Being on the road can be a lonely thing and having Emilie by my side is like having a piece of home with me. This really helps with the homesickness. Patagonia in particular was a place we both dreamed of visiting. There is nothing better than turning up to a place or going somewhere new, being amazed yourself and then look over and see Emilie feeling the same way. We obviously have a common interest and by travelling to those wild destinations together we are able to help each other to create those amazing images and feed off each other’s energy.
She says: Travelling alone can be hard at times, so I am grateful to have someone to support throughout the journey. You can bounce ideas off each other and learn from each other. Creatively, we both think very differently, so we are able to see things differently and still to creatively work together to balance us out.
He says: I took the few moments where I needed to be alone. For example, when we went camping I walked out and spent an hour by myself staring at Cerro Torre, because I wanted to see that on my own and take some photos. This was one of those moments when you just don’t want to hear anybody’s voice or have any outside distractions going on. But our relationship is special in that way. It’s not like we go to work separately, get home at night and have dinner together. We see each other 24 hours a day. I guess that can be quite stressful at times. Especially, when the light is fading and we are trying to help each other take photos and each minute that goes by is a minute of waste. But overall, it is really positive and I could never see myself doing this job in any other way.
She says: When travelling together for such a long time, at times it’s important to be alone to refresh. You can see things from a different perspective and appreciate them in different ways. The combination of travelling non-stop, travelling for work and travelling with your partner can be stressful at times, so moments to yourself are rewarding.
He says: That is extremely difficult to say. The drive into El Chaltén and seeing Mount Fitz Roy was just breathtaking. Looking out of the car and seeing those iconic peaks right in front of me was an exhilarating experience. We had just driven six or seven hours up from the south and the landscape had been consistently flat. I had seen the mountain in books and magazines, on National Geographic or in climbing videos. To see Fitz Roy made me realise why I do this job and why I love to travel. It’s just one of those things you cannot explain. It’s just pure excitement about seeing something new and something you have always dreamed of seeing.
She says: Driving into El Chaltén and seeing Mount Fitz Roy for the first time. These strong and ridged mountains are like nothing I had ever seen before. Very powerful, and holding a sense of freedom. Driving through the wide and open desert to the road that lines up to look up to the mountains was incredible.
He says: Patagonia is not an easy place to travel. It felt like there was an issue every single day. The fuel was getting scarce, crossing the border was not as easy as we had hoped and the weather was insane. I really enjoyed the challenges of dealing with strong winds, rain or even heavy snowfall. This all added to the story. Many places are so hard to access that once you get to your destination, you feel grateful. I guess you can call it a rewarding place. In addition, meeting the wildlife was amazing. We met lots of guanacos in Torres d el Paine. There were thousands of them. It was such a cool experience to see them running around so happily. Emilie loved them.
She says: Patagonia was not what I expected at all; it is still quite remote and felt really disconnected from the rest of the world. Experiencing the landscape and unpredictable weather conditions firsthand made our time travelling through Patagonia unforgettable.
He says: I have always been in love with mountains. It started with travelling to New Zealand and seeing the Alps in Europe. The mountains in Patagonia were something completely unexpected, though. Endless ice fields and glaciers I had never seen before. In Patagonia, there is the second largest body of freshwater barring the polar ice caps. So, this region dictates a big part of the local and even the planet’s climate. The weather put an even more dramatic touch to the massive peaks. We never knew how the atmosphere was going to be, because it was changing from rain and hail to sunshine and back to snow in only hours. This combination of landscape, weather and the wildlife was definitely one of my favourite parts.
She says: The mountains are incredible. When hiking to Cerro Torre we experienced some of the strongest winds that were blowing large pieces of ice from the glacier terminal face to the shore and right to my feet. An experience I will never forget.
He says: Antarctica is up there as well as Greenland and Northeast Canada. I just really enjoy those challenging destinations, where I can push the boundaries on capturing images. Especially at places that are dictated by the weather. That’s why I really enjoyed Patagonia. I know that there is way more to see in Chile or Peru than I have seen so far. I could travel endlessly for the rest of my life and still not see half of the places I want to see. It’s great that a lot of these destinations you can see multiple times and still find something new. I believe if I went back to Patagonia tomorrow, it would be completely different.
She says: I have lots of exciting projects planned for 2018. Some highlights include travelling to Scotland and hosting a photography workshop in Namibia, Africa. I am drawn to exploring and experiencing new cultures and destinations and I look forward to photographing and sharing new stories.