Ryan Krueger (ryankrueger.com) is an outdoor adventure and landscape photographer based out of Bozeman, Montana. He works with editorial and commercial clients around the world and specializes in capturing authentic images in natural environments. With a passion for the outdoors and a strong commitment to producing quality work, Ryan has been able to consistently bring back commanding images that tell a story and connect with the viewer. He is currently represented by Wonderful Machine.
Ryan: "Hidden deep within the state of Idaho, the Main Salmon River is not geographically that far away, but as a place, it’s in another world. Cutting deep through the middle of the Frank Church—River of No Return Wilderness, the surrounding terrain is some of the most remote that you can find. Roads don’t go through, and the few inhabitants of the area must access it by boat with no other way in or out.
"As an outdoor photographer, it is always an exciting prospect to immerse myself into an environment such as this for a long period of time—just thinking about the landscapes that will pass by and the scenes that will present themselves along the way. Deep canyons, flowing rivers, pristine beaches, and wild landscapes that are constantly changing as I sit and wait for the perfect moment to present itself. When shooting adventures like this, I like to think about what makes each particular scene unique and focus on that. I’m always on the lookout for a distinctive cliff face, unique lighting, an interesting reflection, or the way the river winds through the canyon downriver. Whenever possible, I will find a way to incorporate a human element into the scene and capture the unique relationship between the landscape and our interaction with it.
WHAT TO BRING ON THE MAIN FOR PHOTOGRAPHERS
"Raft trips are a great way to get into remote areas with ample gear. This isn’t like backpacking, where every ounce counts. Weight is not a huge issue as long as you can keep items dry. On trips like this, I store my gear in a Pelican case. The rugged, waterproof design allows them to get stepped on, tossed into a river, run through the rocks, and left on a sandy beach while protecting the precious cargo inside. On occasion I will also use a smaller Watershed bag for regular access while on the raft, but most of the time, it’s nice to not have to worry about crushing something. For all other camping and personal items I use a Seal Line Boundary Pack for storage during the float. I bring enough batteries to power my camera for the week and more memory than I will ever need. During the day I generally hand hold my camera while on the move, but I will also pack a tripod for long exposures on the water or night shots around the campfire and the surrounding landscape.
GETTING TO THE MAIN SALMON RIVER
"Our trip is private, meaning no guides or companies lead us down the river. This is a great way to travel as the group is not restricted by a specific schedule, allowing plenty of time for photographing or exploring the area as much as you like. If you’ve never rafted or don’t have any gear, consider hiring a local company such as Middle Fork River Expeditions to guide you down the river.
"We spend the night before the trip at the put-in at Corn Creek campground, about an hour drive from North Fork, Idaho. The Main Salmon is a permitted stretch of river, and they are required for anyone planning to float. Each subsequent night would be spent at one of the many perfect beaches that line the river. Because this stretch goes through a giant wilderness area, the shuttle is quite long, and I recommend hiring one of the local companies, such as River Shuttles out of Salmon, Idaho, to bring vehicles to the takeout at Vinegar Creek. Spending the money is worth it to avoid the hassle of having to drive hundreds of extra miles at the end of the trip."