HummSquad Profile: Pete Alport
The members of the HummSquad are Humm’s emissaries, each lending their remarkable skills and unique voices to spreading the word about Humm. They are thrill-seeking outdoor enthusiasts and cutting-edge musicians, gifted photographers who portray the beauty of nature, and record-seeking riders who attempt to conquer it. Whatever their skills are, wherever their passion lies, we give them the Humm, and they show the world where Humm can go.
As an award-winning nature photographer and videographer, Pete Alport has seen his share of wild places. Based in Bend, Oregon, his photos have graced many magazine covers and his production company has produced stunning ski and snowboard footage as well as a variety of commercial projects. In this informative and wide-ranging conversation, Alport offers tips on getting kids to love the outdoors, advice for those pursuing nature photography, and explains how geo tagging harms wild places.
You’re an experienced backcountry guide. How does that inform your work?
I’m not a guide for hire exactly, but I serve as a guide for most people I work with in the backcountry. That means I call the shots on what time we go, what items to bring, safety points, and more – really a laundry list of things. Many people I work with are significantly younger and may not have the backcountry knowledge and experience, so I go over everything from start to finish.
With product shoots, I often create itineraries including how long we’ll be there, what we’ll be shooting, etc. I also want it to be organic, so I’m open to suggestions from those I’m working with. In addition, I also guide my kids on adventures.
Speaking of which, do you have tips for getting kids outdoors and helping them develop a love for nature?
First and foremost is quality gear. I know it can be expensive since kids are always outgrowing stuff when they’re young, but it’s a necessary investment. I see parents that have brand-new skis and gear and the kids have fogged up goggles because of gaps and clear lenses that blind them. The kids are clearly miserable and uncomfortable. This isn’t fun for them and it frustrates the parents. Kids need functional, comfortable gear if you want them to enjoy it and have success. So you have to bite the bullet and invest in quality gear. Snack foods are also important. You can’t just pick anything and figure they’ll eat it because they’re hungry.
I’d also suggest starting small. Maybe start with one- or two-mile hikes in and build from there. Make sure you know where you’re going and that the end is a cool spot. They need to be blown away by it to want to do it again. It’s not about exercise for them. When camping, get them involved in setting up camp. The more involved they are, the more excited they’ll be about the process, including setting up the tent, blowing up their Therm-a-rest, purifying water, and packing their backpack. This includes practicing at home. It’s important, especially when going out for multiple days, that you know where everything is in your pack.
Good planning is also important. Know where you’re going or pick places that aren’t crowded to make a great experience for them.
What advice do you have for aspiring outdoor photographers?
You must be driven by passion. If you’re doing it for money or fame it probably won’t last. I’m driven 100% by passion. Whether you’re just starting, or you have a million social media followers, you have an all-encompassing responsibility to the community and to the land.
If you’re out there selling a highly sensitive spot for a photo guiding trip and you’re bringing a dozen people to an area that only accommodates five, and you’re trampling all over it just so clients can get their shot, then shame on you. The world is not an infinite place. As humans want more and more of the outdoors it brings more stress on the land.
I see photographers with 50,000, 100,000, even one million followers and they’re geo tagging spots. When you tell all these people exactly where you are, many will go there. This is unsustainable behavior.
As soon as you hashtag a place, it goes to the top of the list. The point of the geo hashtag is to gain notoriety or spoon feed “secret” spots. There is one Instagram Hub with a tagline about sharing the hidden parts of Oregon. And they blast this information out daily to 300,000 people with no guilt. I am not perfect, but at least I recognize what’s happening and try to mitigate the negative impacts of my photography and videography. I know I am part of the problem too.
And then you see hundreds of people in these spots. As a result, now it’s only open to permits or they’re being shut down completely. I think geo tagging and hash tagging have a huge role to play in this. And that’s why I don’t do it.
I know this opinion offends people. But long term, geotagging and hash tagging are unsustainable behavior. Social media can exploit and destroy a small area, even in a single post. I’ve seen the aforementioned happen before.
“Sometimes you get lucky with a shot, and I’m excited and grateful when it happens.”
Professional outdoor photography and videography is getting to be a crowded field. How do you separate yourself from the pack?
I separate myself by taking talented individuals into an area, usually in the snow, and letting them do what they do best. I also help to design and build jumps, settings, features, read weather, and know when to summon the crew and get out there.
Sometimes you get lucky with a shot, and I’m excited and grateful when it happens. It’s a beautiful thing. It’s also rare. Mostly it’s about putting the work and the time in.
Because when you plan and it all comes together and you hit it out of park there’s immense satisfaction. Whether people appreciate the final product or not, when you’re in the moment and capture something, when people are screaming and hugging, it’s the best. To see a human do something incredible in a stunning natural setting, and to be in a position to capture it, that’s a beautiful thing.
What really inspires people is a new point of view or a new spot. To separate yourself from the pack, you have to bring something new to the table. This includes keeping yourself in shape so you can reach places. That’s a big part of success. You need to be able to hike the miles necessary to catch the special shots. Some people just hammer on the popular, easy to reach areas, but I’d prefer not to.
Photography doesn’t come quickly. Some people pick it up fast and accelerate their success. But I have 20 years of experience and I’m learning every day. I’m constantly improving systems, learning group dynamics – these are things you can always improve upon. And when the crew is operating at an optimal level and getting shot after shot, that’s incredible.
Of course, I take my hits, too. I have to eat the bad times. Things happen. Whether it’s a trauma instance, gear failure, someone gets sick, or I get sick, or the weather doesn’t cooperate, you just need to pick yourself back up and keep charging. Just keep going. As long as the passion is there you can do it.
Another point on videography, which I’ve done much longer than photography, is who is behind the lens. You can buy the most expensive gear in the world but if you haven’t done your homework, and you’re not out there shooting every day you can, it doesn’t matter what you have. You need to understand what you’re shooting and understand the fundamentals. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t have the best gear when you start. Get better gear when you learn more. An iPhone shot can hold as much “value” as a $7,000 video shot. It probably won’t end up selling it, but ask yourself: are you in this for the money or to fulfill your desires?
When did you first connect with Humm? And how did you become part of the HummSquad?
I first met Jamie and Michelle [Humm co-founders] about five years ago on video shoot. At that time, I was already drinking a lot of kombucha but was bouncing from brand to brand. Once I discovered Humm, I loved it and was happy to begin working with them. We took a break for a while, but when they were putting together the HummSquad sometime in 2016 they approached me again and we worked out a deal.
As a company, they are really supportive of me as well as their employees. The company wants to succeed, without burning bridges along the way. They want me to continue doing what I’m doing and to keep improving. It’s an incredibly positive atmosphere at Humm from the bottling line to marketing to the owners. Humm is exactly who I want to be aligned with.
Where and when do you drink Humm? And what’s your favorite flavor?
I drink Humm daily. I hike with it, I camp with it. I have a bottle in my drink holder right now. I bring a case of Humm to parties. I want to be a part of Humm for decades. They’re growing fast, and for good reason; the product is healthy and satisfying.
I don’t have a single favorite flavor. I like them all. Part of what I like about Humm is that they regularly put out new flavors. I used to get burnt out on some flavors after drinking it too often. Now I sample them all to avoid that. It’s also a product I feel good about giving to my kids. When shelves are packed with lots of sugary, unhealthy options it’s great to have a refreshing and healthy alternative.
What is your happy?
Having a peaceful morning with my kids before their school, and a game plan already in place with a talented group of athletes to venture into the mountains. I then find myself in the mountains executing said game plan, coming home, everyone safe and sound, body exhausted, fulfilled, yet still ready to load the day’s images and video onto the computer and begin the editing process late into the night. Then do it all over again the next day. That is my happy.
Yesterday @winterislove had a middle finger underneath his mitten, pointed directly at the monster high pressure.|| #lowpressure
Today is Friday. Let’s all have some fun and put a smile on our face like @theo_shine has here. Whatever that means to you, just do it. #lowpressure
#tbt to a pillow stack @tannerhall420 rode from top to bottom. I briefly looked for the video clip I shot, but have to dig a little deeper, I’ll find it. I couldn’t believe he even thought about stepping to this, let alone doing it without eating shit. #skiboss #wouldyou
See all the HummSquad
Pete Alport Photographer and Videographer
Team TWENTY20 Women's Professional Cycling and Junior Development Team
Paige Pierce Professional Disc Golfer
Matthias Giraud Skier & B.A.S.E. jumper