Ellen Stryker Bischoff, 21, is not your typical senior at St. Lawrence University. I could tell from the moment we got on the phone and she explained that she had a limited amount of time to chat because she was going mountain biking—on a Wednesday afternoon.
She enthusiastically spoke about some of her favorite adventures, especially the ones she has captured as an adventure photographer. “There’s a picture of me standing on the Harder Kulm in Interlaken in Switzerland,” she began to explain. Bischoff described her guilt for taking the tram up to the peak of Mt. Zermatt the previous day and decided to hike the Harder Kulm in Interlaken immediately afterward. She recalled awkwardly running into a family on trail and decided to hike in another direction, coming up to another summit with a memorial bench and amazing view.
“[It was definitely] the favorite part of my travels…I had my tripod with me and just stumbled upon it,” Bischoff said.
Bischoff—with her sand-blonde hair, cheerful disposition and determined, badass attitude—said that home for her is Cape Cod, where she spent most of her childhood summers. Her first exposure to outdoor adventure came with family trips to Yosemite, Big Sur and other major national parks out west. “My parents were super outdoorsy, [the summer trips] had a huge impact on me,” Bischoff explained.
She has since continued her passion for the outdoors, playing a major role in the St. Lawrence Outing Club (SLUOC, pronounced ‘slew-oh-cee’). There she leads hiking, biking, climbing and aqua trips in the Adirondacks of New York.
However, it is her work as a photographer that really makes her stand out in the college outdoor community. Bischoff explained that she was always interested in photography, but never thought about it as more than a hobby. During her sophomore year of high school, Bischoff decided to make a website to display her work. “It was a way to get myself out there,” Bischoff said.
After gaining some popularity as a photographer in town, she created a National Geographic ‘Your Shot’ account—a way for amateur photographers to submit their work to the site and hopefully get published. To her surprise, the first photo she submitted got published. It was then that Bischoff realized that adventure photography was more than just a hobby—it was potentially a career.
Now, Bischoff has her own website where she features her own freelance work. She has captured images from all ends of the Earth, ranging from brilliant landscapes to a multitude of portraits that encapsulate the people, scenery or larger message that Bischoff tries to convey.
“I like to get people in my pictures along with landscapes,” Bischoff said. She sees photography as a way to inspire people to get outside. Bischoff explained that by including a person or group of people as the subject of the photograph, it makes the adventure more accessible, more doable. She said that documenting her adventures is an important part of the process of getting more people to go outside.
Bischoff emphasized this especially with women in the outdoors. “Especially with women, it’s cool to show everything that we do… men are still portrayed as the stronger sex… it’s cool to get ladies more involved in the outdoors, because we are minority; it’s pretty badass,” she said.
Looking ahead, Bischoff hopes to work as an ambassador or photographer for a gear company. We wish her the best of luck in her adventures!
If you want to see more of Bischoff’s work, follow her instagram @ventureyourself