The ubiquitous “selfie” has gotten a bad reputation for driving epidemic narcissism and the reign of duck lips. But Alberta-based photographer Paul Zizka’s pictures of himself adventuring in the wilderness of Canada are rare examples of the selfie as divine.
“The photographs were mostly taken in Banff National Park, with a Canon 5D Mark III,” Zizka tells Co.Design. “I typically set the camera on timer and then head over to the other side of the camera for the shot.”
In one image, the Northern Lights glow green and purple as Zizka stands silhouetted on a rock, waving a stick like a wand. In another, he wades waist-deep in a lake, the beam of his headlamp illuminating a nearby mountain. In another, he irons a shirt on an ironing board propped on the edge of a cliff.
Zizka started doing night photography about four years ago, setting off on mountaineering trips. His intrepid adventures have included an 869 mile double-crossing of Iceland on foot in 2004, which is believed to be the first of its kind.
“I never get tired of shooting the aurora borealis, and a lot of my favorite self-portraits were taken during particularly intense northern lights displays,” Zizka says. “The aurora has an amazing way to renew itself and show ever-different combinations of color and textures.”
He says he chooses to photograph himself because he is alone 99% of the time. “Upon arrival at a location, I sometimes feel like jumping in front of the camera would make an image stronger and convey something different,” he says. The length of a photograph’s exposure usually determines his body position: “For longer exposures, the only way to retain sharpness is to sit down or lie down,” he says.
“I believe there is in all human beings a deep connection with the natural environment. In these times, however, that link is often obscured by the capitalistic, hectic, materialistic, and anthropocentric nature of our societies,” Zizka says in his artist’s statement. “My hope is that through my photography people will rediscover the precious connection they can have with the wonders of our planet.”