by Russ Lowe
Boone Speed is his real name. Whether the Portland, OR-based photographer's brand of photography is the result of natural-born talent or sheer determination, his aesthetic likely has something to do with his father, Grant Speed. Known for his sculptures depicting Western life, the senior Speed split his West Texas home at the tender age of 12 to ride bulls and earn a living as a cowhand. Boone is keeping the all-American myth going, albeit updated for a new generation.
A new breed of adventure photo-artist, Speed is inventing a genre all his own, defined by a global scope, a captivating painterly quality to his work and his incomparable capacity to "get the shot"—which seems to be both his mantra and guarantee. What that means exactly all depends on the day.
Attempting to catch up with him over the past few months, I received sparse mobile correspondence from the likes of a borrowed fishing vessel off the Pacific Coast of Mexico while chasing an epic surf swell, wandering alone through mainland China documenting the rapid shifts in cultural realities there and the riggings of a crow's nest on a remote ocean cliff in Mallorca, Spain. Boone's bread and butter seems to be his aptitude for (and sheer insistence on) capturing something truly special.
His singular style ranges from the beautifully blurred "Evanescence" to visceral nostalgia and sometimes startlingly intimate portraits of human interaction. Critically-acclaimed Esque Studio turned to him to capture the delicate essence of their glass work. But most who know of Boone's work would quickly snap to mind his chronicles of the evolution of rock climbing across the past couple of decades, of which he has been a pioneer and revolutionary figure.
Recent cover shots for Patagonia and Climbing Magazine's Photo Annual showcase the x-factor he possesses when immersed in some of the most surreal places on earth. Apparently, you give this guy a camera, and he'll return with proof that anything is possible.