Behind the lens

Randy P Martin: Some things I saw when I left Chicago

How old are you?


Where are you based?

Denali National Park, Alaska USA

How do you make a living?
I’m a cook. Sometimes photography pays. I do whatever I can to save money for travel.

What camera do you use?

Yashica T5 / Fujifilm X100S

How has travel made an impact on your life?

It’s everything for me. It totally effects my mood and overall happiness. A world without it, no thanks.

What does adventure mean to you?

I live in Alaska right now. My daily walk to work feels like an adventure here among the moose, bears, and wolves. It can mean a lot of things though. For me, leaving the easy things behind, getting into situations that I’m not used is where it all starts. Maybe you’re not ready for it, or even intially interested in, but you go. And you figure it out along the way. That’s my kind of adventure.

Parque Nacional Natural Tayrona, Colombia. This place is the epitome of the idea behind establishing National Parks. There’ll be no development taking place in this jungle paradise that’s still home to native tribes, howler monkeys, ocelots, sloths, and 40 different species of bats.

Happy Birthday Danielle. The woman, the myth, the legend basking in 30 years of glory on this, her second straight birthday inside a National Park. With no conventional trails and an encouragement to avoid creating any, we scrambled our way up shale and dewy moss on the side of Mount Margaret. Four hour laters we were cracking beers on top with baby goats and an epic view of Denali, fully visible on the clear sunny day.

Slime Creek. I’d just moved to the middle of Alaska. I like to hike. It’s one of my favorite things in life. But when a friend invited me to tag along early in the season, I quickly realized things were different here. I got my ass handed to me pretty quickly on this first go as we followed moose tracks through waist deep snow, thick alder patches and alongside half frozen glowing blue streams. The sky was a hazy red and the snow still lingered on all the surrounding peaks in mid May.

Guatapé Colombia – 5 kilometers up the dirt road, turn right at the bullet casings on the ground. Follow a goat trail through the jungle and crawl under a couple of barbed wire fences until you come to a small creek. Now wade up stream in the fast flowing water, avoiding snakes and howler monkeys to find the hidden 30 foot Guatapé Falls. It was worth it.

More often than not, wildfires go unattended in Alaska. As far as I can tell, the general idea is that there’s just so much uninhabited space, they’ll eventually wear themselves out with minimal property damage. The smoke and haze mixed with the never setting summer sun of the interior make for some pretty eerie nights.

With the season almost over, the few local businesses started boarding up their doors and windows to prepare for the long winter. Taking cue, we decided to get out into Denali one last time while we still had the chance. After fording a half frozen river, then slipping and sliding our way up an icy ridge, two grizzly bears came out of nowhere just a hundred or so feet away on the side of Cathedral Mountain. We retreated. Then we retreated some more. Across a rock slide and through melting snow we went until the big bears were out of sight. From the vantage point of this photo we waited and caught our breath. The grizzlies followed. And then they stopped, and started to dig. We sat there and watched them fling huge pieces of dirt and grass through the air for what might’ve been forever, and the holes they dug got deeper and deeper until the bears were actually down inside. Then we got the heck outta there.

Sugarloaf Mountain aka Alaskan Mordor. Home to Dall sheep, caribou, moose, grizzly bear, lynx, and wolves, it’s one of my favorite hikes in our back yard.

My first and only motorcycle trip ever. 6,000 miles from Los Angeles to the Arctic Circle at the top of Alaska. I shot this from the saddle of my bike as a crazy thunderstorm was rolling through Yukon territory in Northern Canada.

After months of 24 hour daylight, the skies started to turn dark around midnight and the stars would come out for a few hours. Sometimes the northern lights would join them and I’d run around all night with my camera and a big coffee can to balance it on in lieu of a tripod.

Hot springs tour 2016. Over the course of about a week I got the chance to visit five different spots throughout California and Nevada where friends and I could pull off all our clothes, grab some beers, and just be outside away from everyone. Travertine Springs outside of Bridgeport California came with a particularly sexy view.