Adventure photographer Gregg Jaden's two near-death experiences changed his life
Have you ever thought about how life paths change within a split second resulting in an entirely new business? Before taking up adventure travel photography, Gregg Jaden founded a digital marketing firm providing solutions for some big brands such as Disney, Fox, CBS, Porsche, Lamborghini, and Cricket Wireless. However, facing two near-death experiences forced him to turn travel storytelling into a growing photography business.
The first mishap was a car-crash, another an emergency surgery
Jaden's first accident was a car crash, when a driver made an unsafe left turn in front of his car, as he was on his way to business appointments. The second mishap was an emergency neck surgery for saving his life. After almost seven years of recovery, Jaden and his camera gear travelled to Hang Son Doong, the world's largest cave located in Vietnam.
I was tired of healing from injuries, said Jaden
"I was tired of healing from injuries and wanted to prove to myself that I could persevere all I had been through, and not let these experiences limit my life. I had always been spiritual my entire life, but this intensified the ride," Jaden said.
The challenging expedition of Hang Son Doong
It took him and his team three days of trekking through 45 rivers and mountains to reach the opening of Hang Son Doong. 80 kms on foot, continuous rock climbing and a 90-meter "descent in pure darkness," while going through the Vietnamese jungle full of viper snakes, leeches, leftover bomb parts and potential live mines finally got them inside Son Doong, after five days.
"Brands love it when I come in with deeper meaning"
His life as an adventure photographer began with traveling to Asian countries and documenting them on social media. This helped Jaden bring timeless assets in marketing campaigns for brands. "Brands love it when I come in with deeper meaning of the product. As for project-related exhaustion, it fades away as I travel to photograph some of the most amazing places on Earth," he narrates.
Jaden speaks at events on business, spirituality, and environmental issues
These experiences directed Jaden's focus on environmental issues and how all humans need to support it. Jaden speaks at many events to help others in business, spirituality, and environmental issues, and partners with mission-based brands and charities like @LonelyWhale, Anthony Robbins Foundation, and various non-profit environmental disaster relief organizations. He is also a part of Sony Alpha Collective and G Technology's G-Team Roster.
"The mission must feel like it's a part of you"
Many artists do storytelling through visuals to educate people on environment related issues. Jaden however believes that to tell meaningful stories, you have to love the topic, and it needs to touch you in some profound way. He says, "Whether it's a story that appalls you, things you want to change, or some questions, the mission must feel like it's a part of you."
His sync with Earth's energy helps him in storytelling
Jaden says, "I'm in touch with Earth's energy, so the natural next steps in my life were to work on environment-based projects utilizing storytelling through film." Unfortunately, his upcoming environmental projects on damaged land, pollution, and animals near extinction, are now on hold in 2020. "Our world is in desperate mode, where educating and mandating important things are more important than ever," says Jaden.
We all need to contribute to our world: Jaden
Jaden believes that we should contribute to our world in a positive way to help our planet. A deep understanding of death gives him clarity while planning environmental projects. He says, "You can pick any region and start researching on environmental damage stories. I use this to choose locations and stories for my projects." He adds that to help Earth, humans must change themselves.
"If he/she doesn't know self-love, how can they love others?"
When traveling is allowed again, Jaden is planning exciting projects that can help people see vital truth in life. He says, "People are only as spiritual till they have achieved personal growth and healed their life issues. If a person doesn't know self-love, then how can they love others or Earth? If people fail to change their habits, then the same problems will exist."
Practicing ethically-conscious choices can help uplift spiritual consciousness, thinks Jaden
Jaden thinks that if humans don't operate with higher consciousness, they will repeat the same pollution, litter, and consumption habits. He says that our spiritual consciousness guides our morals, values, and actions. Practicing ethically conscious choices like not using plastic, not wasting water, or not hunting animals, can help uplift spiritual consciousness. He supports mandatory education on how choices impact the entire ecosystem.
Using expertise to help small, major brands with engaging campaigns
Today, he and his team at Gregg Jaden Studios use their expertise to help small and major brands with engaging campaigns. They consist of transformative filmmakers and marketers, generating ideas for brands to recreate their brand image through a more primal photographic presence.