Discover fresh photographic talent from around the globe, we explore the creative vision of exceptional image-makers.

Justin Lewis is a California native, nurtured in the raw and rustic Pacific Northwest. Justin weaves his photography seamlessly into his interest in conservation and balances commercial and editorial assignments with his personal project, 70degrees west. Commercial clients include: Body Glove, The Ritz Carlton, Smithsonian, The New Yorker, Sport Diver, Asian Diver, Trans World Surf, Australasia, Caribbean Travel and Life.

Amy Lehfeldt, Art Director, Getty Images on Justin’s image below:

“The subject matter of this image is similar to Justin’s documentary and editorial work, but it’s created differently, opening up a myriad of ways he can craft imagery on this theme. It looks natural and authentic but is in fact a digital comp. In his travels to remote locations Justin shoots plates and adds subjects later, digitally, to create images communicating a variety of concepts. 

The wide shot sets the scene and gives the viewer a clear idea of the setting. The tonal color palette and styling suggest the earthiness and trustworthiness of the character. This image reflects the classic values of the frontier American West, such as, morality, honor, indepen- dence, hard work, adventure, pioneering, trailblazing, but with a twist, as the character is a female.”

Justin Lewis on his work
“As an adventure and outdoor wildlife photographer, the arctic was always an environment I wanted to work in. When the time came, my mind was a storm of images I wanted to create.

Before my departure to Qaanaaq in the Northern Arctic, where I would be living with Inuit hunters and photographing the people and their hunting practices, I sketched out a series of images I hoped to create. I wanted to capture the traditional elements of Inuit hunting culture, as their long standing practices are quickly disappearing and being replaced with modern options and technology.

Martika, the Inuit hunter in this image, is wearing a reindeer jacket his grandmother made him when he started hunting. Also wrapped in polar bear pants and seal skin boots, he spends his life on the sea ice hunting with his sled and dogs.

Martika spoke no English, but his ability to understand my direction and intentions for this series of portraits was inspiring. We spent six days on the sea ice together, and though language was a major barrier, we formed a rare and unique friendship.”

Local inspiration
“I grew up in Mendocino on the Northern California coastline where my childhood was spent outdoors in the woods, the mountains or underwater in the ocean. Inspired by light and the simple beauty in nature, I acquired my first camera when I was nine. Since then, I have explored the world through my lens, weaving my career as a photographer into my lifestyle of exploration, conservation, and adventure.”



My creative space
“Although studio work is part of my life, I have spent the last two years working on a long term environmental project, 70DegreesWest, which has me exclusively working outdoors and underwater. My location, being the rural and wild places of the world, is everything to my work.

In some cases, the natural landscape is the shot itself, while in other cases it creates a unique background for an unsuspecting subject. The challenge of being a nature and underwater photographer is one of the things I cherish most about my work outdoors. It pushes me to explore new depths of my own ability to create a powerful image when challenged with extreme and changing environmental conditions.”

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Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in Creative in Focus which you can view here.

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