Maine is described as a “drowned coast,” a term used to describe glacial transformation of lowlands into coastline and former mountains into the islands that we see there today. The coast is jagged and rocky, devoid of white sands and stretches of clear blue waters, but instead exhibiting pebbled shores of granite and deep green. Several times a year, members of the HELM staff make the trip north to the factory in Maine and this past summer they were joined by Matt Whalen, a videographer from Austin, who helped capture HELM styles against the terrain that the state is known for. Below are some of the amazing photos that were taken on that trip as well as a Q&A with HELM’s own Creative Director and photographer, Tim Clancy.
What draws you to photographing in Maine? What could you not get enough photographs of?
Well obviously first and foremost what drew me the most to photographing and capturing the moment during my stay in Maine was the process and intricacies of the boot manufacturing itself. I knew there were a lot of steps but until you witness it first hand and are digging deep with your lens into each single step you realize truly what kind of care and conviction it takes to craft a Helm Boot. However I did feel satisfied with what I was able to capture during my time inside the factory floor itself.
When it comes to what I feel I didn’t capture enough of it comes down to something that I probably will always continue to feel like I can’t get the exact shot I want, and that is within the ever-changing inspiration of nature itself. It seems as if everything that is standing, built up, torn down and decomposed, natural or man-made, always goes back to the copycat inspiration that nature provides through it unclassified shape shifting. I found myself surprised at some of the coastal line areas around Portland, Maine and surrounding communities. The rock formations with so much life giving way through moss, algae, small crustaceans etc. I kind of get obsessed with trying to capture that big world outside of our own. Sometimes leaving satisfied but usually always wanting to go back for more. Unfortunately, that usually requires me versus the terrain in the space that I’m at. When I am by myself with my camera I feel no pressure to conform to other peoples plans and can go off into my own place. I wish I had more of that along the coastline.
Is there anything that you wish you had captured but missed?
I wish I had been able to go take photographs of the Phillips-Exeter-Academy. The architecture there is incredible and well thought through. I was hoping to be able to go take some shots of that and was not able to.
I also wanted to go to Hinkley Park due to the seasonal change of trees and colors that was happening, surrounded by a beautiful calm body of water. Would’ve made for a good morning fog filled walk and photo opportunity. I’ll just have to wait for next time.
How many of the photos were a product of planning vs instinctual?
I would say at the factory 80% of the photos were captured through preplanning. Since we were shooting a film based around our factory, I had most shots and angles planned our through a storyboard. However, there were definitely some things that I gravitated to more than others such as capturing the needle and thread at close-up frames, piercing and pulling through the leather.
I recently started using the newest Canon 5DS. That mixed with the Canon 70-200 telephoto lens allowed me to really capture every crisp move and still maintain the sharpness of image that I love.
And then on the flipside I would say the percentage was opposite when we were shooting out on the coastline of the moss filled rock that felt like we were walking on the surface of another planet.
At least the other planet that I’ve been to had surface very similar.
Like I said before in a prior question, it was somewhat unexpected of how much I wanted to continue to shoot up there so yes most of that was instinctual throughout the landscape images and somewhat macro type frames I was able to capture.
Did you have any other photographer’s work in mind as inspiration while you were shooting?
No not really.
I guess I don’t really think about those things while in the moment.
Although, now that I run it through my head, I do find some relation to a couple of the photographers & artist work that I’m currently into.
Artists like Daniel Arsham or photographer Patrick Maus. I love the stuff they do and the style they portray.
On your next trip, what do you think you will do differently and what will you photograph again and again?
I think the next time I pay a visit to the northeast, I’ll take an extra day or two to go gaze off on my own and get lost and see what comes of it.
What is something people wouldn’t know from looking at the coastline photographs?
I would say something that people wouldn’t know about the terrain photographs was more based upon the time of day. Usually to get that good fog and mist you need to go early morning and sometimes in some locations, later in the afternoon. However, it was just about midday lunch time when we shot everything.
It was right before a storm was rolling in so we got everything as quick as possible and ensured that all angles were satisfactory to what we were wanting and then called it a day and headed to the local brewery that our cinematographer Matt Whalen had recommended. Matt is somewhat familiar with the Portland, Maine area due to growing up in Boston, Massachusetts and also having a brother that lives just outside of Portland who owns, runs and maintains a local organic farm called Bumble Root. So, we happily exited once the storm was arriving and finished our day out with some really good recommended craft beer.
CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE FULL “TEXTURES” VIDEO BY MATT WHALEN