Story, video and photos by Ryan Lund

If there is one thing I learned this summer, it’s that you need to take chances and follow your gut, whether it tells you to take a job, start a relationship or accept an invite out of the blue to go to Alaska. The prospect might be scary, but you’ll never know what’s on the other side if you don’t climb up.

I happened upon this life lesson when Deborah and Dan Morrison asked me to go to Alaska with them for the SOJC’s Science and Memory project. At the time I wasn’t even an official member of the School of Journalism and Communication, as I was a cinema studies major. So this would also be a crash course in the J-School’s potential for me. With only one week until takeoff, I decided to climb on board with no knowledge at all of what I was about to experience. What I did know was that if I didn’t go, I’d always wonder.

When I landed in Cordova, Alaska, I wasn’t sure what excited me most: The absolutely stunning beauty in every direction, which spoke to the Oregonian mountain biker in me. Or the fact that I would finally get the chance to work on videography as a profession after striving toward that goal for five years. I was greeted by cold, crisp air, mountains reaching above the clouds and a small repurposed salmon cannery, where  gear galore and friends awaited me. For the next week and a half, we would all live and work together in this place — although I have a hard time calling what we did “work.”

I loved it.

Until that trip, I had never been surrounded by so many like-minded individuals, all deeply focused on the same product. I felt like I was looking into some sort of weird mirror. It was exciting, it was busy, and it was very nerve-racking. I have always been somewhat of a one-man band when it comes to video production, going out with a camera in my hand and a small idea of the finished product in my head. No shot list, no script, none of that planning stuff really ever happened. But since I’ve been in the SOJC — starting with that trip to Alaska — I have discovered how important planning is to a large project such as Science and Memory.

A bald eagle watches for food from its perch. Although Alaska is home to much of the last unspoiled wilderness in the United States, the effects of human-induced climate change and environmental degradation are now apparent there as well.
A bald eagle watches for food from its perch. Although Alaska is home to much of the last unspoiled wilderness in the United States, the effects of human-induced climate change and environmental degradation are now apparent there as well.
The old docks of Orca Inlet located right behind the repurposed cannery in Cordova.
The old docks of Orca Inlet located right behind the repurposed cannery in Cordova.

That said, you can only organize the chaos that is Alaska so much. So, armed only with a short list titled “Things We Need Footage Of” and my gear, I threw myself into the wilderness to greet whatever we were about to see with pure elation.

My official position with Science and Memory is videographer and editor. So while the photographer in me was itching to push the shutter button all day, I knew my job was to shoot video. I was responsible for documenting the Science and Memory experience and producing a behind-the-scenes look at the people who run it, the things we do and the work we create.

Alaska’s fishing industry relies on commercial planes for tasks such as spotting. Because there are no roads to Cordova, the vehicles are also the only way to travel to and from the town.
Alaska’s fishing industry relies on commercial planes for tasks such as spotting. Because there are no roads to Cordova, the vehicles are also the only way to travel to and from the town.
The midnight sun shapes summer nights in Cordova. This photo of a small gathering of friends was taken at 11:42 p.m.
The midnight sun shapes summer nights in Cordova. This photo of a small gathering of friends was taken at 11:42 p.m.

As I continue to work with Science and Memory into this year, multiple opportunities have come my way, from additional video-related jobs and internships to professional relationships with important people. I’ve also discovered a newfound love for the world of journalism. All of this has happened because I said yes and followed my gut. I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Ryan Lund is a senior double-majoring in cinema studies and journalism, with a minor in business administration. This is his first year as a digital content creator, with a specialization in videography and video editing, for the SOJC Communications office. He has also worked extensively with the Science and Memory project. Follow Ryan on Instagram and Twitter @RynoLund, and subscribe to his YouTube channel at NorthFern Productions.