Keito Swan: Take Flight

The Image

Keito Swan

Various location throughout the PNW and Canada

Time / Date:
1:15pm / September 10, 2012

The Technical

Camera Body: Canon 1V HS, Mamiya 7ii
Lens: 17-40L, 80MM F4
Film: Portra 800

Camera Settings:

Shutter Speed: Typically at least 500
Aperture: F9 for the most part
ISO: 800
Focal Length: Usually wide angle

The Story


I’ve been shooting for about 5 years now.  So how did I get into shooting BASE jumping? Well I picked up skydiving and with that came a unique group of friends, including a roommate who was a base jumper. Primarily I shoot snowboarding and lifestyle photos, but I was really intrigued by the thrill of base jumping and the future goals that I had for myself for base jumping so I knew I had to get involved.

These images were pretty hard to make. It was actually pretty similar to the process of shooting snowboarding in the backcountry. We had to hike up grueling steep trails some as long as 4 hours one way, which for the jumpers was great for the big payoff up top, for me…well I had a nice long hike down. Once we arrive at the peak of our location, I had to scout around look for the best angle to get the shot. This posed to be a challenge when I’m only shooting with 1 or 2 base jumpers because for the most part they jump and I have to make it back down to meet them at the car in a reasonable amount of time to leave. The other challenge with finding the right angle for the shot is, there usually isn’t a lot of room at the exit point of the jump to get in the right angle which forces me to repel off a nearby tree to get the shot, I love putting myself into these situation though to get a more unique perspective of shooting, and it gives me my adrenaline rush for the day.

The Scene: 

The locations are truly magnificent because we have to find high peaks to jump off we are rewarded with some of the best views that Washington has to offer. It really makes the long miles of the hike worth it. But that being said sometimes we get to a peak and its too windy so we are forced to turn around and make the hike back down. We are always waiting for mother nature to give us the okay.


In the last year I made a decision to shoot just film. This was a huge challenge as im still fairly new to the process and how certain films react and look. Why film? Well I could give you all the reasons of how I like the grain and the texture and its unique blah blah blah. These are all part of the reason why. But more so, when I make a photo on film there is no immediate result which has taught me a lot about patience. Also taking the time to set up the shot and compose it exactly how I want it. Especially when shooting with the mamiya 7ii I only get 10 shots per roll. I think the biggest thing for me though is I got to a point where I just wasn’t as passionate anymore about photography, I would shoot and look at the images and was never satisfied..almost just bored of it. So I picked up a film camera out of curiosity and was just really excited about it again something about film
expresses more then just an image it expresses and emotion with it for the enviroment.

Currently all the shots in the selection I have made are shot on Kodak Portra film I am happy with it but I still have to shoot a lot more and would like to shoot some more on Fuji to see what kind of results I get. There are so many options with pushing and pulling film as well to see what kind of results I would like to get.

Making the Shot:

Making these shots were tough. Aside from the long hikes and being turned away from adverse weather conditions. I was challenging myself with the gear.

First I started with a Canon 1v HS. I wanted to shoot fast so it made sense to me as the camera to go to since it shot 10fps of 35mm. But eventually I just felt like it was cheating, it was too easy to shoot and just pick one frame. I also wanted to have the option to make really big prints so I had to shoot 120mm but with that came a limited amount of options. No medium format camera shoots at a fast rate so you get one shot to get what you want for the moment. This was a huge challenge but I learned to embrace it.

Editing & Processing:

I hardly ever run my images through any editing software. But I do send my film off to a lab to have it developed and scanned. Im learning right now on the decision of what film stock to choose for which location depending on the location and light to achieve what look or feel I want. I want to be able to achieve the look I want before I shoot and not rely on photoshop after.

Looking Back:

I’m really happy with these images as a start. They are a series in a long-term project. But I am sure that I will make more engaging and exciting photos as the project continues and takes me to new places.


Shoot what you are passionate about, what really makes you happy. Put yourself in a situation where money is no object you can make whatever images you want…That’s what you should do.

A good friend and remarkable photographer once asked me. Why I was shooting what I was shooting and I couldn’t really give a good answer it was just something I kinda fell into and though I enjoyed but in reality it was all fake an pre conceived images that anyone is capable of shooting. He taught me to shoot what I was passionate about, REAL MOMENTS. Images that make people look twice, images that people will remember you by. One thing that has always stuck with me that he told me was,

“You never take a photo, your not taking anything. You MAKE one”

-Ian Ruhter


Other Photographers that inspire me.
Ian Ruhter
Cole Barash
Chris Burkard
Tony Roberts
Matt Georges

And many others.

I’m inspired by things I see everyday. Keep a journal with you at all times write any idea that comes to your mind no matter how silly it sounds.


About the Photographer

I make pictures because its what I am truly passionate about doing.
Its not something I would consider a job, yet I wouldn’t exactly call it
a hobby…Its my life. Its how I document my life, my travels, my visions.
Its what I love and hope to keep doing for the rest of my life.

Most of the work is shot on film.

If I only scape a living, at least its a living worth scraping.

Instagram: @keitoswan

Submit Your Images

The Image Story is all about inspiring images. We want to share and showcase your very best images—the ones that you’re most excited to share and the ones that tell us who you are as a photographer. Submit your images to be featured on the Image Story


Leave a comment