An interview with Roark's intrepid lensman Dylan Gordon

Roark’s go-to still-frame documentarian adventurist
By Beau Flemister

Dylan Gordon

What, to you, makes a great photo?

The moment. To be so involved in what you’re shooting that capturing a moment becomes irrelevant and the camera may as well not even be noticed. And light. Damn, I love good light. Beer helps too. 

Dylan Gordon

On seizing moments in remote places.

“I love being immersed in a culture, surrounded by languages you don’t understand but understanding exactly the reason why you’re there.” Wise words, indeed, from Roark’s go-to still-frame documentarian adventurist, Dylan Gordon. Just arrived home from a trip to some islands at the bottom of the earth (the Falklands, that is), Dylan shares some glimpses of his fascinating life with us, snatching light and shadows in faraway lands.

And the surf — difficult to score down there?

Yeah, the trip to Patagonia was special. I grew up raising horses on our ranch up on the Central Coast, so to have the opportunity to ride beside pretty radical gauchos across their countryside was incredible. Cooking up lambs fireside, riding across snowy passes, galloping beside one of the ranch hands…not so bad. I was also pretty damn blown away by the extremes. It goes from flat plains to jagged mountainscapes in a blink of the eye down there. When we went into the alpine behind Bariloche, it felt like another world. Approaching the place by foot was a hell of a time. It’s a humble place but she will humble you quickly.

Dylan Gordon

How’d you get into photography, anyway?

Photography came about when I used to travel to skate. I became more interested in documenting the travels, moments and my friends than I was in actually progressing as a skater. That became an avenue to continue to surround myself in the spaces that I love, while still being a part of them. So now I get to still surf or ride whenever the hell I like and same goes with shooting. They go hand in hand nicely.

Jamie Thomas by Dylan Gordon

Amen to that. Talk to me about some of the favorite places you’ve ever shot while traveling.

Since the nature of my trips is always changing, I love so many places for different reasons. Whether it’s riding motos across somewhere like Vietnam or the Himalayas, horseback in Argentina, surfing in Russia — I love them all so much, but individually they all have a different hold on me. I love being immersed in a culture, surrounded by languages you don’t understand but understanding exactly the reason why you’re there.

Surfing in Russia by Dylan Gordon

I love that. Any particularly sketch situations that stick out in your mind while on the job?

Ha. Gunpoint in Russia? That wasn’t too fun. I was almost run off the road on a bike by big semis across mountain passes in Bhutan. Getting chased out of the water by sharks and killer whales was pretty sketch, too.

Dylan Gordon

Want more? Read Volume 15 of Roark’s Artifacts Chronicle: "Vagabundos Del Carne"