A Fireside Chat with Cliford Mervil
A discussion with the outdoor photographer.
Cliford Mervil is redefining outdoor photography.
We sat down with Cliford to learn more about his methods, his perfect adventure, and what inspires him to stay out there.
FS: Where do you find the most ease in the outdoors? What gives you that sense of *exhale*?
CM: I love the desert. It’s just one of those places. Whenever I’m driving down to California, I try to take the south routes just so I can stop in the desert for a few days. There’s nothing out there for miles and it just kind of draws you in. I’ve been to places where there’s beautiful big mountains and you can kind of get lost in the mountains – but the desert just makes you think. I find myself reflecting on everything because it’s just nothing out there and the kind of feeling it brings, just staring into the void.
FS: I think that’s a perfect way to put it. It’s almost like that desert landscape is so vast and open that it puts your mind in that same framework.
CM: Yeah, it just slows you down. Because in the big mountains, there’s just so much to see – your eyes are all over the place, but out in the desert, it’s just that one point and you can stay in focus. Monument Valley is one of my favorite spots to stop in and just camp out for two days and stand out and think and plan.
FS: You’ve worked with so many different outdoor brands and gone on these huge trips to the mountains and in these places where really extreme things are happening. What do you think the word “adventure” really means and do you think it’s an approachable concept that anyone can access? How would you define accessible adventure, or maybe redefine it?
CM: To me, adventure can be anywhere. It can be in your backyard, it can be down the trail. Adventures are just what’s new to you. An adventure is discovering new things, whether it’s a trail you’ve walked down a million times but you’ve never stopped to take it in, or even your own backyard. Just slowing down and actually looking around and enjoying the place in the moment that you’re in.
I do love mountaineering. I love the challenges that it brings and the adventure of having a sense that I’m doing something I thought was impossible. Or moments like Boundary Waters where you leave everything behind and relax and slow down. To me that’s also adventure – it’s whatever you discover that’s new to you.
And I do like type two fun. The moments that suck in that moment but later on, you can just kind of laugh at.
FS: It’s refreshing to talk to someone that can see both sides of adventure –the summits that people look at and say “That seems crazy for me” right alongside finding adventure in the ordinary.
What advice would you give those that are new to the outdoors, or haven’t had that life experience yet of spending time outside?
CM: You need to start small in the outdoors. It doesn’t have to be somewhere cool just because you see a lot of pictures on Instagram about it. Start small and go out in your own backyard. Go to your local trails, state park, or national forest. Do a lot of research around what you’re about to do so you feel ready.
Stay tuned for more conversations with Cliford and other outdoor creatives.