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  • Writer's pictureSteven Penn

Behind the Lens: Westfield® Goes West

Updated: Sep 27, 2023

The Story of Westfield Outdoors® Largest Product Photo/Video Gathering Trip


Have you ever wondered how some of your favorite brands get such awesome photos and videos to showcase their products?


Is it hard work? A little bit of luck? A lotta bit of talent and know-how? Magic?


Yes.


OK, maybe you’ve never actually wondered about the “how." You just see the finished product and think, “woah, that’s awesome.”


Well, recently, this writer got an up-close look at how photo and video content gathering is done on a large scale. In mid-July, several Westfield Outdoors® employees, myself included, embarked on the largest, longest, craziest, most beautiful photography trip in the company’s history.


In this blog, we’re going to recap the trip, lift the curtain on some behind the scenes action and show you how brand photos and videos go from idea to awesome.


Ready for an adventure? Let’s go.


The Mission: Go West, Young Man

The mission, should you choose to accept it, is as follows:

  1. Load a massive rental car with products from the Westfield Outdoors® suite of brands.

  2. Figure out how to fit 1 writer, 1 videographer, 1 photographer, 2 models/friends, and 1 adorable dog, a very good boy named Oliver into said car.

  3. Drive 1,200+ miles from Indianapolis, Indiana (Westfield Outdoors® headquarters) to west-central Colorado, mainly near Almont.

  4. Explore and get photos and videos of the products from Step 1 in action.

The entire Colorado trip mapped out.

We embarked on this journey in the early morning hours of July 10, driving all day, about 18 hours total, to a hotel in Cañon City, Colorado. We arrived at the hotel around 11 p.m. that night (1 a.m. Indiana time) ready to crash out and truly start our adventure the next morning.


You can't mention an adorable dog without showing a photo right? So here is Oliver in all his majestic, good boy glory.

Day 2: First Stop - the Top of the World

We were up around 6 a.m., with the plan to meet up with one of our co-workers who had left several days before us to scout locations and grab extra photos.


The meetup was at a HipCamp called the Hidden High Alpine Campsite in Guffey, Colorado, about an hour or so from our hotel.


Just to sort of explain what type of campsite this is, it’s one you have to have GPS coordinates to find and requires some pretty bumpy off-roading to get to.


When we arrived, we were met with a sprawling, hilly, desert-like view, with snowcapped mountains dotting the distant skyline. In other words, our first true taste of Colorado.


We used this location to get some shots of tents, hiking packs, chairs, and more, as you can see below.

This was also one of the best spots to get night sky and star shots, which I submit here without any further comment (because words would never do it justice).

The night sky shots were incredible, as you can see

In this spot, we were at about a 14,000 feet elevation, giving it a truly “on top of the world” feeling in terms of views and impact on my lungs.


After reveling in the glory of this spot for a few hours, we were on our way to a couple more stops with the final location of the day being the campsite that would be our home for the next two plus days. But more on that later.



Note from Behind the Lens:
This High Alpine spot was my favorite location to shoot. It offered something that you can’t get in the Midwest, but it was also a completely different world compared to other places in Colorado. It was really cool to be up that high and to see nothing but vast desert and mountains in the background.
My favorite shot was one of my dog and our model in front of the Yurt Tent (see below).
- Carly Secrest, photographer

Day 2 Continued: The Road to the Campsite

Once we headed down from the “top of the world”, we eventually made it to the Buena Vista area, stopping at a couple places for potential photos, but more importantly lunch.


Our lunch stop was at a local sandwich shop/Italian eatery called Sorrelle Delicatessen, which I highly recommend checking out if you’re ever in the area. I got, quite possibly, the best Italian sub I’ve ever eaten.


Leaving Buena Vista, we hopped on State Highway 306, a winding scenic road that led us through lush forests and over mountain peaks before stopping at the Cottonwood Pass (Continental Divide). This overlook, at about 12,126 feet above sea level, is an incredible sightseeing/hiking spot tucked between the San Isabel National Forest and the Gunnison National Forest.

Cottonwood Pass signage

We got tons of photos of hiking packs and of course, gorgeous scenery views, as you can see.



And with the opportunity to see snow in July, we had to take a few moments for an impromptu snowball fight, right?



Note from Behind the Lens:
The overpass was a surprise. You can plan things ahead of time and look at maps, however as much as you plan ahead, you never really know when something is going to hit you and be instant gold like the Cottonwood Pass.
And the funny thing is we almost didn’t go, it was a spot on the way to something else and it turned out to be my favorite place.
We climbed to the very top of the path and got a shot of the mountains, which is actually 22 photos stitched together (see below)
- Jason Weller, photographer





Day 2 Continued: Time to Camp

After gathering a bunch of content at Cottonwood Pass, it was finally time to head to the campsite which would be our home away from home the next two days.


After about an hour drive, we arrived at the Campfire Ranch on the Taylor, located in Almont, Colorado.


This picturesque, rustic campsite, located in Taylor Canyon, is nestled in between towering granite walls on one side and the Taylor River on the other.


When we arrived, we headed to the office for check in and were met by an awesome and informative employee who gave us the rundown – and a beer while we chatted! We had told Campfire Ranch about our mission before heading out so everyone on their team was quick to offer us tips and a local's take on the best spots around to check out for content.


Their tagline is “We’re stoked you’re here” and it’s safe to say, we certainly felt that in every interaction we had with folks from the campsite.


In addition to being in a perfect location, the campsite offers its guests FREE firewood, a bathroom, and literally the freshest, tastiest, cleanest water you'll probably ever get from a well you pump yourself (or out of a tap/water filter for that matter).


Seriously, this was probably the best water we've ever had.

If you’re looking for an awesome place to camp, we highly recommend checking out Campfire Ranch.


After getting the lay of the land, it was time to set up our campsites. We had booked several spots, and game planned where we would shoot certain scenes over the next couple days and of course, where everyone would sleep.


Once the campsite was set up, we had a quick campfire dinner and were ready to call it a night shortly after, as we had a long and exciting next day ahead of us.


Overall, we got a ton of great shots at the campsite, had a few jam sessions, got to try out a bunch of different products, and had a blast hanging out, taking in the beauty of living in the mountains for a few days. Check out some photos from the campsite below.



Day 3: Wildflower Drive and a Dip in the River

We woke up the next morning to the roaring sound of the Taylor River and the crisp Colorado air, grabbed a quick breakfast and some campfire coffee, before heading out on our next adventure.


Following the advice of our friends at Campfire Ranch, we headed around the corner from the campsite for an off-road excursion. Our main goal was to find the sprawling wildflower fields we were told about, check out some aspen groves, and just generally see if we could find some other cool places for photos, videos, and drone footage.



As you can see from these photos, it’s safe to say we found a pretty good wildflower spot.

After leaving the wildflower field, we continued along the beaten path, winding up and down the mountains and hills in the area. We grabbed a bunch more hiking photos, some product shots for our new dog brand Canine Canyon™, and got some great drone footage to showcase some of our overlanding products. We also took a moment to get some group shots.

Note from Behind the Lens:
There were so many different ways to shoot at the wildflower fields. It was really cool to see the 14ers way in the horizon but still have the smaller mountains much closer. Then of course you had all the color of the wildflowers.
Basically, everywhere you looked you had a beautiful shot with the foreground, midground and background. My favorite shots were of our model hiking through the fields or of (Steven) scribbling away in the notebook (see above).
- Kevin Loiselle, videographer

After heading down from the mountain, we figured it was time to check out the river that had been serving as relaxing background noise at the campsite. We found a spot along the Taylor River with easy access to take a quick dip.


The water, while just a little chilly, was incredibly refreshing. We chilled by (and in) the river for a bit, grabbing general photos, shots of our hiking packs, and more. We also got some cool video footage, as well.




After leaving the river feeling refreshed and clean, we grabbed dinner before heading back to the campsite for a bonfire and s’mores.


We were able to get some awesome camping/bonfire scene shots as well as some incredible photos of the night sky, as you can see below.



In all, it was a perfect end to a long, yet productive and fulfilling day.


Day 4 and 5: We’re going back, back, to Indy, Indy

Sadly, with such a tight schedule and a long drive ahead of us, Thursday and Friday of our week mainly consisted of driving. Waking up on day 4, we had a little bit of time to get a few more shots and videos, but most of the morning was spent packing/cleaning up the campsite and repacking the cars. We made a quick stop Thursday afternoon in the Crested Butte area, checking out the cool little town and another overlook, but after a few hours we were en-route to Indianapolis.


After about a 7-hour drive, we stopped at a hotel Thursday night, and finished the last leg of the drive back on Friday, arriving in Indianapolis just before midnight. In total, this trip took about 40 hours of drive time and around 3,000 miles of total traveling.



Thanks for Coming Along on the Ride: Until Next Time Colorado

It was a wild week, filled with a bunch of exploring and sightseeing. At each place we stopped, we constantly found ourselves saying “what’s up ahead” or “let’s go up a little further” because there was just so much to take in and document via photos and videos.


We also learned a lot more about the products our company makes and got to spend valuable time using our gear in real-world applications. Probably the only thing we'd do differently is to spend a few more days out west … but then this blog would have been even longer.


We hope you had fun going along on this adventure with us and learning a little bit more about what goes into product photography/videography and content creation. I know for those of us who took the trip, it will be something we never forget.



The Colorado Crew


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