Jordan Landers: Queenstown Adventures
Showcasing New Zealand’s landscapes through a new lens
Storyteller: Jordan Landers, Australia
What format did you choose to create your keepsake and why?
I chose to create a Large Premium Photo Book with a Deep Blue Buckram cover. I wanted to make sure I could fit as much content into it as possible and have something that looks and feels good.
Why did you create your keepsake?
I’ve only recently picked up photography as a hobby, and as much as I’m loving the process of taking and editing photos, I often find myself wishing I had something physical to take away from it.
2023 was a great year for my partner Jodie and I, so I wanted to have something tangible and timeless that we could hold and share. I love the idea of making this an annual tradition and one day having a stack of books that we can pull off the shelf to revisit our happy memories together.
What is your favorite image from your keepsake and why?
It’s really hard to choose; my biggest hurdle in creating the book was culling the hundreds of photos that I wanted to keep. If I had to choose just one to print and hang on the wall, it would probably be the sunset over Lake Ohau (above right). I love the colours and composure of this photo, with the white-capped mountains in the background anticipating the coming winter that would soon blanket everything in snow.
When we booked a stay at Lake Ohau, we were just looking for a quiet place to relax in between Queenstown and Aoraki. What we found was a delightful lodge with amazing meals, beautiful views across the lake, and absolutely stunning drives through gorgeous valleys. The locals wondered why we chose to stay at what is essentially a ski village out of season, but it ended up being a highlight of the trip.
What is your favorite story behind a single shot in the book?
Again, this is really hard to choose. If I had to think of the memory that brings me the most joy and the photo that brings that back to me, it would probably be my partner Jodie having a happy struggle on the Kepler Track.
I took this photo on our second day on the Kepler, when we were about to descend through about 1km of elevation in tight switchbacks. Jodie had injured her knee the day before, so we had to make the tough call to turn around and retrace our steps in case we got deeper into the track before finding out she couldn’t continue.
Having lugged our packs up the same route the day before, we knew exactly how much of a struggle we were in for. A storm had been brewing all morning as we left the Luxmore hut, so we were hustling to make it below the treeline when I took this photo. We knew that getting down the mountain would bring a world of pain for Jodie, but you can see her managing to find the comedy in a tough situation and grinning through the pain. I think our memory of that day would be very different if she hadn’t been able to do that.
Once we made it below the treeline, I carried Jodie’s pack so that she could focus on being able to walk without keeling over. By the time we both tumbled into the car at the track entrance, we were absolutely exhausted. After quickly arranging an Airbnb for that night we found a local restaurant and discovered the high-calorie joy of cream cheese on pizza. We still talk about how amazing it felt to sit in that warm cozy booth after sharing a painful struggle with each other.
The next day we ended up walking back up the Kepler in the reverse direction to reunite with our friends at the last hut. In the end Jodie’s dodgy knee helped us to share a really special experience with each other that we love looking back on today.
What inspires you to take photos in general?
I love getting out in the bush and having an adventure, and I enjoy sharing those experiences with other people. When I come across a cool animal, a beautiful waterfall, or any kind of stunning vista, I always get a bit of regret if I can’t capture the moment. That’s a big part of what drove me to pick up photography, and I’ve found that the hobby has been a great motivation for me to search out new and exciting places.
As I’ve only just started getting into photography, I also find that established photographers are a great source of inspiration. People like James Popsys and Nigel Danson make me want to pick up my camera and get outside or sit down and improve my editing skills.
What bit of advice would you offer to someone creating their own MILK memento?
I’m not sure if I’m in a place to offer advice yet as this was my first one, but I can definitely point to things I would do differently next time. As I progressed through the book, I tried out more formats and found better ways to highlight photos or fit more on a page. I think it would help to explore a bit before landing on your formatting to make sure you can fit in as much as you can while giving enough attention to the key highlights.