Being an outdoor photographer also means being an athlete, explains this young French creative

Tiziano Terzani’s pen described the mountain as a generous element, capable of giving ‘unrepeatable sunrises and sunsets,’ of playing natural notes that in the immortal alpine silences became signs of imperturbable, wonderful life. A life that Jordan Manoukian has decided to embellish through his own visual productions: high-altitude sports trips, in which the differences between athlete and photographer are cancelled.

“I dedicate all my work and my whole self to the mountains. In every production I try to convey this passion of mine and this privilege that I feel I have. At the end of the day it’s always about choosing the right person with the right scenario. And people who are involved with the mountains, whether they are runners, climbers or other kinds of athletes, have this innate ability to convey their passion for this element. They give me so much energy… The best part of my job is creating a connection with them, following their visions and pursuing a goal that on the peaks becomes collective.”

Looking at the portfolio and the snowy giants conquered by this artist-explorer, one might think of an expert bred from the French mountain ranges. Nothing could be more wrong. Jordan, strange to say, was born and raised in the teeming maritime center of Marseille: the most antithetical place for a mountain person. The mountainous epiphany in his life came by chance, thanks to one of his first work steps.

“Marketing and photography have always been part of my life, I have followed and nurtured these two interests even at the academic level. The turning point came when I started working for the SCARPA brand, where I had the opportunity to discover the vast universe of outdoor sports. As a boy from Marseille, the first contact with the mountains left me speechless. In Chamonix, for example, I felt unique vibrations, produced both by the landscape and the people around me. Growing up in the south, overlooking the Mediterranean, is something completely dissimilar: the lifestyle is diametrically opposed, in the mountains everything is quiet, everything is relaxed, the atmosphere is simply different. But without a doubt there is also a part of Marseille in each of my productions.”

And Jordan’s production has been able to touch on major brands-landmarks in the outdoor performance world. We’re talking about The North Face, Columbia, Arcteryx and Salomon, but also all-around giants like Nike,Red Bull and GoPro. A production that has also recently launched a significant personal project, the film ‘Out of Frame,’ created and presented by Mountains Legacy Films, an agency founded by Manoukian himself.

This atypical audiovisual project focuses on the figure of the outdoor photographer, on the technical skills and natural knowledge he or she must mature in order to be in close contact with and follow the best athletes-teamers on peaks all over the globe: from South America to Lapland, from Iceland to Sri Lanka.

“I wanted to show the real backstage, because I think a lot of people don’t realize how much is behind the cool photos or videos you see on social media. I worked with Mathis Dumas for a long time, and I felt he was the perfect subject for this kind of project. He is a mountain guide and an athlete, along with his camera he has gravitated to the mountains all his life, his understanding of outdoor photography was perfect for the concept I had in mind. I am not only referring to the sporting side of the work that unites us, but also the creative side, the ability to imagine and compose content in extreme conditions. It was fantastic.”

Credits: Jordan Manoukian
IG @jordan_manoukian
Text by Gianmarco Pacione