Ace up your sleeve

Catching up with Ace Kvale

We know Ace Kvale as the 60 year old backpacker who loves his blue heeler and the Utah desert, but there is more to the man than first meets the eye.

Ace began his relationship with photography working in front of the lens as a ski model in the early eighties. This all shifted when he hitchhiked through Africa for five months, carrying a small manual Rollei camera.  The images captured on this trip kickstarted a thirty year career as professional photographer with Kvale now one of the world’s top adventure photographers.

Having travelled to more than sixty countries, he has participated in twenty-five expeditions to Asia and the Himalaya, and he’s worked with many of the world’s best athletes. He’s hung from helicopters in the Alps and skied first descents in Alaska. His images have appeared in dozens of magazines, from National Geographic to The National Enquirer.

These days Ace is once again finding a different way of looking through the viewfinder: photography as an opportunity to raise consciousness. Through recent work with vanishing cultures and international philanthropic organisations, he’s discovered new inspiration and purpose by using his skills to help people at risk. Ace has traveled with the Himalayan Cataract Project to Ethiopia and Rwanda to document mobile eye clinics, with the dZi Foundation to Nepal where they help remote villages to build new schools, and with the Kashmir Earthquake Relief Effort to document the plight of the millions affected by the devastating quake of October 2005. “It’s not the places we go, it’s the people we meet when we get there. My focus now is on giving back to cultures I’ve come to love.”

Ace has also made time in recent years to achieve some very personal goals. He’s earned his black belt in Kenpo Karate, hand-built a solar, one hundred percent off-the-grid timber frame house, and raised his son, Walter. Ace now makes his home in a tiny, remote town in the canyon country of Southern Utah with his dog Genghis.  It was here that Ace and film maker Brendan Leonard recorded the voiceover nine times in a room full of sleeping bags until they finally got a good version.

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