CAMILLA RUTHERFORD / WANAKA, NZ

A bit of adventure, grit, and shredded knee ligaments never did anyone any harm.
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I've blown my ACL in my knee, and then torn all my cartilage in the same knee the season after.

For Camilla Rutherford, gnarly injuries have molded her into the badass photographer she is today. Rutherford left behind her homeland of Edinburgh, Scotland for greener pastures. Literally. After graduating from St. Martins College of Art in London, she hightailed it to deep within the South Island of New Zealand, where rolling paddocks smother the landscape and sheep outnumber people 40 to 1. Lucky for Camilla, those paddocks are surrounded by some of the most incredible skiing, boarding, mountain biking and extreme sports terrain on the planet. In this rough and craggy environment, Camilla carved out an undeniable reputation as one of the country’s best outdoor adventure sports, travel and lifestyle photographers.

You could say she’s popular because she’s nice and she smiles a lot, which is completely true, but it is the mood and magic of her images that have bring her to the forefront of adventure photography. With photographic and written pieces widely published both in New Zealand and offshore, Rutherford has also placed highly in some of the world’s premiere photo competitions such as the Pro Photographer Showdown in Whistler and the RedBull Illume Image Quest. A couple years ago she won the Scandinavian Photo Challenge in Sweden, beating out four of the world’s most renowned mountain bike photographers. Camilla now lives on a high country farm in the gorgeous little ski-mountain town of Wanaka, traveling all over the country and the world for her various projects.

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With some of the world's most gorgeous mountain terrain in her backyard, it's no wonder Camilla smiles a lot.


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So, you live at one of the far corners of the World as far as us Northern Hemispherians are concerned. What’s your favorite place on the planet?

New Zealand. I guess its an obvious choice for me. The diverse landscape offering incredible backdrops to any action sport, along with having space and wilderness to go adventuring.

You LIVE in your FAVORITE PLACE? Lucky. Tell us about your adventuring there.

My most extreme shoot ever was on top of the Kaipo Wall in Fiordland, NZ. This “wall” is the highest cliff in NZ, and soaring at 1.4km high it’s a long way to fall! I was shooting B.A.S.E. jumping and there was no rocks to tie off a safety line on, so I was hanging on for dear life. I had to make sure I was sufficiently over the edge, however, to shoot them jump! It was pretty wild.

Just thinking about that makes us want to “chunder,” as you say. What was your first camera?

My grandmothers Olympus OM20 35mm Camera. I was also obsessed with my fathers Super 8 Cine camera too for moving pictures!

And what are you shooting with now?

At the moment I’m on the Canon 5D Mark II and the 1D Mark IV. I’m shortly going to be upgrading to the 5D Mark III and I already know that will be my favorite!

And you’re using Peak Design gear with those big rigs of yours?

Definitely. Its so incredibly useful when you have to use your hands for other things, like hanging off the edge of a crevasse! Climbing and skiing are the most useful times for me. When you have to reach your gear quick with no fuss, because you are in a rather precarious position. On snow it can be when you want to move locations quick and don’t want the hassle of having to put all your gear away only to get it out a second later.

Your dream photo shoot… GO.

I would love shoot an adventure, perhaps mountain biking, somewhere crazy, perhaps like Kashmir or India or something. I have many far flung ideas to travel to far-off places to shoot action sports…

The passion just pours out of you… did you have a life pre-photography?

Not an ideal one… I’ve had many fill-in jobs whilst trying to “make it” as a photographer. I’ve been a ski instructor, a chalet girl, I’ve planted trees, worked behind a bar, cooked…

That’s a fun smorgasbord… which job was the shittiest?

Planting trees in the Scottish Autumn. The weather was particularity shit!

If you hate Scottish Autumn, try a San Francisco Summer. Who are your ‘tog idols?

I love the work of Jimmy Chin, Jordan Manley and Mattias Fredrickson just to name a few! Fellow Peak Design Pro Chris Burkard is another fave… I had the pleasure of being a finalist with him in the 2010 Red Bull Illume.

You really like to get into the action… what’s your gnarliest injury in the field?

Oh gosh. Ive blown my ACL in my knee, and then torn all my cartilage in the same knee the season after. Just from carrying heavy camera packs whilst skiing. These injuries have resulted in two operations and at least a year off skis. Not fun!

Not fun at all. While we’re on the subject, any embarrassing photo moments you wanna share?

My camera bag strap got caught in a chairlift once – when I got to the top I went to get off only to find myself, and my camera bag, attached to the chair. They had to stop the entire lift to get myself out of that sticky situation! Rookie mistake.