Andrew Upchurch lives and works in Yosemite National Park. In his free time, he loves to rock climb (first and foremost), hike, practice photography, and read books while nestled in his hammock along the Merced River in Yosemite.
Q. How were you introduced to climbing and the great outdoors?
A. I was first introduced to climbing when I was very young, probably five years old. My father was speaking at a summer camp and my family got to attend the camp with him. One of the many recreation activities available at the camp was the rock wall, located in the camp’s basketball gym. I remember seeing it and not wanting to spend any of my free time anywhere else for the duration of the week at camp. While this was my first exposure to rock climbing, I never received an opportunity to rock climb regularly until I was in college.
My introduction to the outdoors was slightly different. My earliest memories of outdoor adventures are of family visits to a local state park, Silver Falls State Park, not far from Salem, Oregon, where I grew up. The waterfalls there are beautiful and the park will always have a place close to my heart.
Q. What impact has living in Yosemite Valley had on your life so far?
A. Living in the Yosemite Valley has taught me so many profound lessons and has deepened my love of the outdoors. The opportunities for climbing are endless. I try to climb any day that the weather permits. Being outside and climbing to very life-giving to me and will always teach me something new if I am present to my surroundings and my current experience. Learning to live more presently to my everyday situations has had some of the greatest impacts on my life in Yosemite.
Q. Yosemite Valley is looked at as the mecca for rock climbers the world over, is it easy to lose that perspective and take it for granted when you live in the valley year round?
I would say yes. It can be easily lost on my at times that there is a larger world outside of Yosemite. The Yosemite bubble can really hold me in sometimes. In response to this, I try to be paying attention to the news as often as I can and engage in conversations regarding the current events of the world. It can be difficult, as there are many other Yosemite locals in the same situation, but I wish to make the effort nonetheless.
Q. Rock climbing gives you a unique view of the world (literally) that very few people will ever experience. Has it changed your attitude towards how you see yourself or the story you are living?
A. Climbing has definitely changed my perspective of myself. While it is the most life-giving thing for me to participate in, I cannot see myself living in a place too far away from climbing opportunities for very long periods of time. Rock climbing has also given me an increased love for being outside and active that I wish to share with others in hopes of helping them also experience those life-giving moments outside.
Q. You capture Yosemite climbing and your friends with an intrinsic story through photography, when did you first pick up a camera?
A. I first started taking photos more actively when I purchased my first iPod touch back in 2013. I really enjoyed sharing my photos on my Instagram and Facebook accounts. When I started receiving a lot of encouragement from friends and family, I decided to try film photography.
Q. You say you enjoy shooting 35mm film, what made you pick up that medium? Has it changed your processes when approaching a photography?
A. My younger brother is a wedding photographer who shoots all his weddings on film. I loved the colors that film photos yield and the analog nature of it. On a visit back home to Oregon in January of 2016, my father gave me his old 35mm film camera and I just delved into it.
Shooting film definitely changed the way I approached photography. I can’t take as many photos anymore without running out of film to shoot photos with. I have had to adjust and be more deliberate and calculated in the shots I take. Film photography has also shown me that photography takes a ton of practice, just like any other artistic discipline.
Keep up with Andrew's adventures by following him on Instagram, @Andrewupchurch