By Gabrielle Gasser EBS STAFF
Lane Lamoreaux is a venturesome, camera carrying wanderer of the West. Finding a sense of reverence in its vast and stunning scenery and a yearning to share breathtaking scenes, a camera naturally became a close companion. His photographs and films have become his way of expressing love and gratitude for our vast public lands—especially our rugged wilderness areas.
Lamoreaux kept a camera close throughout his service in the U.S. Marine Corps and his nine years as a wildland firefighter as a Hotshot and a Smokejumper. Off-the-job injuries in 2013 led him to change careers and create a new livelihood with a camera. He’s carved out a niche for his work by creating training films for the National Fire Center, allowing him to also remain a part of the fire community. Lamoreaux loves moving messages and telling stories via the creative discretion inherent behind a camera lens and as a video editor.
Explore Big Sky: What does the theme of awakening mean to you?
Lane Lamoreaux: “To me, it means optimizing, it means realizing all of our resources. Awakening needs to also make realizations, which implies learning; you gain insights, you realize things that you wouldn’t have otherwise known. 2020 has been an awesome example of abundant opportunities for just that, because so many of us have had our hands forced down a different pathway that we wouldn’t have otherwise chosen. We had the opportunity to see scenery that’s not on our daily commute, that’s enabled, just awesome opportunities that wouldn’t exist otherwise and I’ve certainly had my share as a videographer…. I’ve been making training videos for this nonprofit organization training people how to operate drones in reconnaissance and disaster humanitarian assessment. Awesome, man. That probably that opportunity wouldn’t have presented itself had this year not been so crazy.”
EBS: What was it like to transition from the Marines and firefighting to focusing on photo and video?
LL: “It’s been fairly evenly split. I am a paragliding instructor and with COVID, there’s just so many people that want to learn to fly. It’s a form of escape. I’ve been super busy, and I trained 27 students so far this year. … The transition with me being fired, it was tough, but it was so awesome. I had such incredible support. After my most debilitating injuries, my supervisor let me stay on light duty for over a year. Over the course of that year, I was connected with the National Fire Center, specifically their media department. I started making training videos and they liked it and I kept making them while I was a Forest Service employee. Then, in 2015, I took my arduous duty pack test to get red colored again and I missed the time, by less than a minute, but nonetheless, I missed the cut-off so I had to resign, and that was kind of sad, but I was also excited, because now I’m was going to take my relationships and what I’ve been doing, producing videos, and now, do it as a private contractor. So, it’s just been awesome that my exit to my fire career has given me the opportunity to still keep one foot in the fire world, and still connect with my friends because they’re required to watch my training videos or fire refresher every spring. I always insert little subtle things that only my friends would get. I smuggle clips in my videos, kind of like mini formal shoutouts to the people I used to work with.”
EBS: How did your relationship with photo and video change after your injuries?
LL: “It became much more professional. I took my savings, I just invested. I went all in on photography and I was determined that that would become my livelihood. It just works really well with the new body that I had, because it has totally different strengths and weaknesses and in the fact that I can operate a camera just like I could years before, and it’s just opened up a lot of doors.”
EBS: What do you hope that attendees of TEDxBigSky will take away from your talk?
LL: “I want people to reframe their understanding of their resilience. I want people to take away this idea that you can cultivate, you can build resilience, before you need it. This is something you can proactively do, and it only enhances the quality of your life. By doing so, the inevitable setbacks and trauma and hardship that we’ll all encounter, you’ll be so much better off.”
EBS: Is there anything else you want to share with our readers?
LL: “We have this saying in fire, when things are really kind of terrible, you’re on a super steep fire or you have a seven-mile pack-off with 150 pounds, it means you’re just in an awful situation. We have this slogan that we use, that I transferred over to my new life, especially in 2020, that is, ‘embrace the suck.’ I just love that it’s so simple, and it may seem a little harsh, but what I love about it is it’s so honest and in unfortunate situations, just admitting that they’re not pleasant and in being honest with yourself, despite the pressure of positivity. I think having a constructive attitude is what I focus on, because, to me, a positive attitude is just too much of a binary. It’s black and white you’re positive or negative, whereas constructive is much more open ended when it comes to embracing the suck. When you’re dealing with rough situations, it just encourages a mindset of resourcefulness. You never get tested if you’re never challenged, and this was certainly a year that’s challenged all of us in some form.”