• Hayden Seder

Wild Woman: Nurse and Nature Photographer Claire Seder

Updated: Sep 15, 2020

Following Claire Seder’s Instagram is like viewing nature porn; her shots of alpine lakes, mountain peaks, and snow-dusted forests would inspire anyone to get outside more. Most of what Claire shoots is within road-tripping distance of her home base of Seattle or her hometown of Portland. A full-time nurse, 27-year-old Claire’s adventures usually happen on her off days and involve lots of planning and the accompaniment of her boyfriend. Her schedule of working night shifts three days a week actually allows her the flexibility to visit all the spots on her bucket list. Getting the shot typically involves days of hikes and backpacking but the end result is always worth it.

How did you get into photography?

Claire: I remember the “first” photo I took. My dad and I were biking around while my mom was doing the Portland marathon. I laid down in the road and took this sweet, lower perspective road shot. My mom and dad, being supportive, were like “you’re so good at photography.” In retrospect, it was not a great photo. But I decided to buy a camera and just started teaching myself. With the internet, you can look up the basics of anything and connect with people.

What do you like to shoot on?

Claire: Hopefully I’ll upgrade but I’ve been shooting with a Sony A72 probably for about 4 years. I like it because it’s mirrorless so what you see through the viewfinder is exactly what your photo’s going to look at. I usually have a 24-70mm lens for landscape. It gives me the best general range I like to shoot at. Occasionally I like something with a lower f-stop if I’m going to do stars. I also just recently got a little film camera.

How do you pick where you visit?

Claire: I think it’s shifted; when I was younger my parents would take us backpacking and stuff and do outdoor things. And then in middle/high school/college I fell out of that and had very little interest in being outside. When I got into photography, it was more like, I was in Spokane, I didn’t know what to take photos of so I went to Toulouse falls close to Idaho and the first year or two it was mostly “drive-up” photography. If I could drive up to a waterfall or lake or whatever and get out of my car and take a photo that made me happy. I was going to places I thought I’d like that were very easily acceptable. The more I got into photography, I realized my favorite times to shoot are sunrise and sunset and seeing photos of alpine lakes. If you want to photograph an alpine lake at sunrise, you’re leaving Seattle early, driving 2-3 hours to get there, and then you have to hike. Basically, if I want to shoot at these times, I have to sleep there. Then it became that I’d see photos of places I’d like and then I’d go. In general, I pick the places I want to take photos of, but the longer I do it, I have an evolution of my interest in the outdoors. I want to take photos of that place, but it’s also a really cool challenging hike. A lot of my backpacking friends are photographers and most of my trips center around cool features like lakes, mountain peaks, etc. Now I’m also factoring if there’s an outdoor activity I want to do, like whether there’s a peak to hike. This year we started doing more—we’re not climbers by any means—but more into scrambling, like class III terrain.

What’s one of your favorite trips you’ve been on?

Claire: In terms of blending photography and the outdoors, backpacking in Patagonia was pretty awesome. I did it after college during my post-graduating freakout. I did that for about 3 weeks. That was one of my favorite trips, partially because it’s really cool hiking but also very similar vibes to the pacific northwest—mountains, lakes, trees. Part of why I moved to Seattle is because it’s so accessible to the North Cascades, the greens and blues, the layers of peaks. Seeing it through a camera or in-person is so amazing.

How does viewing a space through a camera lens change the way you view it?

Claire: You’re looking at what you’re shooting more as a feature of the space rather than seeing it as a whole thing. During the times that I’m hiking and the sun’s beating down (not good photography conditions), I’m more appreciative of the nature of where we’re hiking. There are so many things that to the human eye is so beautiful, but when you pull out a camera, it just doesn’t look good. I often pull out my camera, look through, and put it away. The camera comes in more at certain times of day or looking at certain features.

What’s your favorite trail/camping snack?

Claire: Trail snack shopping is one of my favorite activities. I just went today and spent so much money. If there’s one thing that I’m taking it’s the Happy Trekking trail mix from Trader Joe’s. You can’t go wrong with a trail mix. We almost always throw in some kind of gummy candy too.

What’s next?

Claire: In terms of COVID travel, we’ve just been sticking around Washington. There’s a bunch of alpine lake hikes that are on the list that I’m checking off. I would love to eventually check out the Dolomites in Italy and mountain peaks in other places.

#photograpy #naturephotography #WildWoman #womenoutdoors

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