Meet Jose, Bolivian mountaineer and guide.
We met in early 2014 during field testing for the D3. Like his two elder brothers Gregorio and Edwardo he started working in the mountains in his teens, at a time when equipment such as the crampons for scaling the glaciers were home-made and when foreigners at altitude in Bolivia were a rare sight.
Jose doesn’t have formal mountaineering training (the cost of which is prohibitive to most locals) but more than makes up for it with a focus and level-headedness that comes from years of experience in a domain where the stakes are high and the cost of failure can be absolute. When a summit needs ascending (or occasionally when a body needs retrieving) this is who you call. He transported us across the country, navigated hi-alt mountain routes and the salt flats where many of the D3 photos were taken, negotiated with striking miners. He pushed us through some pretty hairy situations with a good humour and a mean mambo.
For all the sense of adventure and Instagram posturing it is locals like Jose that make things happen with far less noise or aspirational bullshit that is part and parcel of many modern lifestyle brands. It’s the experience of people who have lived, loved and come close to death that we feel closest to, not the objects or logos or limited editions.
Jose is part of our network of fixers and guides, people we turn to when we need access to the most interesting people and places. Their skills range from tri-lingual college students with a nose for what’s next, people that are exploring the boundaries of their domain, through to hardened war-zone correspondents. The right person depends on the questions the project is trying to answer and the destination.
Our global network has taken well over a decade to pull together, and spans photojournalism, film and media, trend & consumer research and can provide meaningful access to every demographic from Tokyo teens through to Mumbai housewives, and the occasional warlord.
We’re fortunate to work in interesting destinations. Our success depends on our local crew. Each is carefully vetted: we expect a lot from them and in return we invest a lot to ensure that their time with us is enriching and appropriately rewarded.
Our sister studio, Studio D Radiodurans maintains The Fixer List, a service that helps staff interesting projects with the right people. If you’re looking to become a fixer or guide, complete this form.