When Camrin Dengel graduated from college, she didn’t know where she would end up. All she knew was that she wanted to be an outdoor adventure photographer.
She picked up a copy of the Patagonia catalog and leafed through it, making note of every photographer and emailing them to ask if they needed an assistant or if there was any work she could do for them.
She didn’t know how many responses she would receive, if any. Rather, she blindly sent messages into the ether, ready to pack her bags and move wherever necessary in order to pursue her dream. It was an aspiring photographer’s equivalent of spinning a globe and journeying wherever her finger landed when it stopped.
And in Camrin’s case, that game of travel roulette brought her to Driggs, Idaho, to work with adventure sports photographer Gabe Rogel.
Having grown up in Valdez, Alaska, a small, one-road town five hours from the nearest city, Anchorage, Camrin was used to a rural setting. In fact, it was in Valdez that she developed a love for the outdoors. Her family took regular weekend trips around the region to ski, camp, fly seaplanes, and kayak in the ocean. The lush backcountry and sprawling countryside acted as an expansive, natural playground for the aspiring outdoorswoman.
When she landed in Driggs just over 5 years ago, she adapted to the rugged environment immediately, exploring the Teton Valley and finding new areas to exercise the passions she’d developed in Alaska: skiing, camping, hiking, and trail running.
New activities began to populate her schedule as well. When she wasn’t working with a client or on a shoot, she would spend her free time fly-fishing in one of the creeks that flowed through the valley or hunting in the Targhee National Forest. Some mornings, rather than going for a strenuous run, she’d take her dog for a walk along the trails.
There was something about Driggs that was different than Valdez, something that made her want to slow down.
She relished the quiet, early morning moments in the woods, the sun peering through the trees, allowing her to pause for a moment, take a deep breath, close her eyes, and enjoy the wintry scent of the pine.
Soon, Camrin noticed this sense of tranquility reflected in her work. For years she’d dreamed of an action-packed life of adventure, scaling rocky peaks and zooming down snowy trails to capture thrilling shots. But now, though still fascinated by the outdoors, she was drawn to a slower way of life, an appreciative mindset.
Eventually, she branched out on her own, becoming a freelance photographer.
She sought out images of farmers and fishermen, open skies and grassy pastures. Her feed filled with quiet shots of freshly harvested produce, smoky campfires, and fields full of graceful ranch horses. In the chilly Idaho winter, rather than head for the slopes, she sought cozy pictures of rugged wooden cabins. She discovered a new feel for her work, a lifestyle she enjoys documenting.
In Driggs, Camrin has no routine, no typical day — and she’s proud of that.
She’ll get outside, go for a run, and stretch her legs in the morning, but after that, her schedule could include anything from visiting a local ranch for a shoot to picking up fresh veggies or capturing images at her friend’s goat farm. Her evening activities range from editing to fishing to attending the local rodeo. Sometimes, if she’s been traveling for her various shoots, she’ll elect to just stay in, relax, and enjoy the quiet of the evening. In Driggs, that’s always an option.
Recently, as she sipped on a steamy mug of coffee and admired the early morning view of the Grand Tetons (the side opposite the “classic” Jackson Hole perspective), she received a text from a friend who was beekeeping, asking if she wanted to come shoot. For a moment, she smiled, imagining what her younger self might have thought if offered the opportunity to spend a day photographing a beekeeper.
Then she grabbed her camera, hopped in her truck, and took off down the dirt road.
Camrin Dengel (@camrindengel) is a photographer and storyteller with an eye for food and culture that feeds the soul. Her imagery tells the story of a life well lived in the west: wilderness, community, slow food, and country living.