Student Spotlight: Whitton Feer ’18

by Allison Johnson

CRMS Senior Whitton Feer is more interested in the backcountry than the spotlight; however, recent awards have driven him out from the behind the lens of his camera. After winning the second annual Aspen Photo Challenge in the under-18 category and a Dream Project scholarship from the 5Point Film Festival earlier this year, Feer has a busy fall ahead of him that includes videography, photography, and applying to college.

Feer first developed an interest in photography in seventh grade after visiting family in Switzerland. “I was so inspired by the visit that as soon as I got home, I bought my first camera and just started shooting.”

A middle-school teacher mentored Feer, but it wasn’t until Feer attended CRMS that he started to focus more specifically on athletic and mountain photography. An avid mountain biker, climber, and back-country skier, Feer refined his skills at CRMS and was also able to use the school as a jumping-off point to connect with athletes around the valley.

“I like to show how an athlete is interacting with the mountains in a really expansive sense,” says Feer. “It’s the interaction that makes a picture so powerful. Photography portrays that interaction better than most other mediums of art because it’s all focused on the subject. It’s all about the mountains, it’s all about the athlete. It’s not necessarily about me, and I really like that.”

Although he admits his winning photograph in the Aspen Photo Challenge wasn’t his favorite shot submitted, he acknowledges that the picture of a kayaker poised on the lip of a waterfall deep in a canyon portrays that expansive interaction between human and environment.

This spring Feer branched out in a new direction and applied for the $1,500 Dream Project scholarship with the intention to make a video about the importance of public lands. Over the next month, he’ll be filming between three and five solo trips into the backcountry around Midway Pass, the Williams Range, and Peer Lakes Basin. A proponent of fast-and-light travel, Feer had to learn both how to use his new videography equipment and how to negotiate the extra weight of it.

“Videography is so equipment intensive and there’s way more equipment to worry about than with photography,” he says. “So just getting dialed in with that has been important. In the mountains when the light’s moving fast, there isn’t a second chance. I definitely made sacrifices in comfort to carry the gear.”

His trips, which will range from two to seven days, will show how photography and video are powerful means to capture the raw beauty of public lands.

“I’m going in with the goal to learn about videography and make something that affects people and motivates them to speak out for public lands,” he says. “In today’s climate, there are a lot of people wanting to take away our public lands. The more public lands get sold off, the more in danger every acre of public lands is.”

Feer will spend his fall editing the video, which he hopes to complete by 2018. In the meantime, he’ll continue to student-lead in the outdoor programs at CRMS and be busy applying to colleges. Although he isn’t interested in pursuing a degree in photography, he does see it as a potential career path and credits CRMS for the direction his future is heading. “Without CRMS, I wouldn’t have the experience I needed to pursue this adventure side of photography at all.”

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