Stephen Cunic’s average equipment pack is around fifty to sixty pounds on his back. The pressures alone crushes and compacts his spinal column on every photo assignment he embarks on, for hours shooting the world around him. Stephen told me about his photographing Doll Sheep in the Alaskan Range mountains, that he spent one day hiking over twelve miles, an estimated eighteen hours of hiking mountains and ridge-lines scouting for animals, part of a fourteen-day landscape and animal shoot. Left in the middle of untamed wilderness with minimal food and a satellite phone for potential help and rescue; he survived and thrived as he captured the natural beauty of the world around him through his camera.
It is clear why he prepares for these journeys 365 days a year with high-level endurance training to allow him the unique ability to escape to no-man lands, to capture breathtaking landscapes and masterpieces of photographic art. For Stephen the journey to untouchable landscapes is about bringing his journey to life and provide the world an opportunity to experience his passion and eternal longing to view the natural beauty of the world; unaltered and naturally preserved by his vision through a camera.
“I do not pray for a lighter load, but rather a stronger back” ~ St. Augustine; a quote Stephen carries eternally and speaks volumes of the efforts he takes to get into lands inaccessible without rigorous training and constant preparation. They should have also included in that quote food, water, and shelter according to some of the stories he tells as he recalls his passages through some of the most remote environments. He chuckles as he recalls finding glacial water in a mountain stream after thirsting for hours, exhausted by his continuous push to go further and deeper into his surroundings. You can not help but ask why laughter at such an event and he simply replies with mimicry of a bowing motion and sound of sipping within his hands; to which he offers you a sip and tells you “to not mind the glacial worms in the water they probably won’t hurt you”. There is beauty in how he embraces the curiosities, irony, and beauty of life. His ability to find humor in how he can at one moment turn up a nose to a speck of dirt in a crystal clear water glass at home, and in another moment of desperation love the taste of water forgetting the dirty, earthen grit embedded in the cracks of his hands and bugs that live in the water he has to drink.
These stories are what capture him and reflect the emotions found in Stephen Cunic’s photography. He has an ability to find beauty in all life and worldly events. There is life and beauty all around in his eyes and he can find it in all things. Cunic's constant endeavor is the perspective of National Geographic quality photojournalism, the loving embrace for the natural art as did Ansel Adams, among other artistic photographic titans.
Stephen is a natural born lover of the world and thus a natural ability to capture all moments for what they are; beautiful in all forms and moments. Stephen started on the path of his life long journey and love of photography on the floor of his local library. When Stephen was missing from roll call at the end of the designated library time in his elementary school, the staff always knew where he was - engulfed in an outline of yellow rectangles sprawled on the floor and surrounding his youth. He immersed himself in National Geographic Magazine, studying the photographs and photographers; the beginnings of an eternal and everlasting passion for the arts, sciences, and love for this world.
As Stephen's career developed, fate put him into the high school darkroom to learn the techniques of 35mm film, development, and archival preservation of images. He tells me how seriously he believes in fate because he was not scheduled to take the course that sparked his life’s work, it was a mis-print. Using his parents Canon Ae-1 he crafted and honed his skills learning vast techniques beyond the standard lesson plans; spending hours in the darkroom between classes and after school. From his commitment to study and training, Stephen was nationally published during his junior year and received several other prestigious awards of notoriety for his technical skills in film photography techniques.
After graduation, Stephen Cunic took his skills to work, traveling and exploring with camera in hand. From the Appalachian Mountains of the northeast, to the desert lands of the southwest, through the Sierra Nevada’s, far back into the Alaskan Range Mountains, and the tundras of the north. Stephen spends the majority of his travels covering the wilds of North America, advocating natural preservation and capturing artistic masterpieces. His strength, endurance and artistic ability to find the beauty of all environments makes him an asset to cover the world’s harshest regions. His talents are evident throughout his diverse portfolio, from the natural wilds to photojournalism of the tragedy and devastation recently in the Philippines.
Stephen Cunic trains for all of the world’s conditions, preparing himself to cross any terrain to capture the last great wilds and beauties for a privileged audience to embrace. It takes strong will and determination to bring these natural beauties to life, to inspire sanctuary of these environments forever and to offer an opportunity to own a moment of purity and beauty to last a lifetime.