Picture this: A gifted young artist is on assignment in Wyoming, photographing the solar eclipse from what he calls an “Oregon Trail-like procession of wagon trains.” The month is August, the year 2017. Yet as Chase Guttman ’18 brings his skill, perspective, and thoughtful attention to documenting all he beholds, he seems to be lifted beyond both place and time. “There are these wagon trains and these cowboys all gathered together in this pasture. You can see the sun as it starts to disappear and the light across the horizon of the Great Plains is intensified,” says Guttman, a Newhouse photography major. “It was breathtaking—a life-changing experience. I want to go out of my way now to chase eclipses around the world.”
The global pursuit of timeless images is a way of life for Guttman, an award-winning travel and drone photography expert, writer, lecturer, and social media influencer who has journeyed to five continents, 70 countries, and all 50 states. He started young, following in the footsteps of his dad, renowned travel journalist Peter Guttman. “I was land-yachting on his lap in the Mojave Desert at 3 months old and traveling with him for an extensive amount of my childhood—learning photography and travel and, really, love for the world,” he says. “I got my first real camera when I was about 12 years old. But I think I was always immersed, whether it was experientially or intellectually, in what was going on around me. Photography was what came of that in the long term. It was a natural progression.”
Guttman is not only well-traveled but also widely published, and his work has garnered lots of accolades. He is a three-time recipient of—and the first American to win—the Young Travel Photographer of the Year award, an international competition judged by museum curators and magazine editors, and was named a World’s Top Travel Photographer by Condé Nast Traveler and a Rising Star by Instagram. Together with his father, he received the 2017 Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Storytelling and Exploration—a lifetime achievement-level honor.
Guttman is the author of The Handbook of Drone Photography: A Complete Guide to the New Art of Do-It-Yourself Aerial Photography (Skyhorse Publishing, 2017), and has contributed to such publications as National Geographic, Travel + Leisure magazine, and the New York Daily News, where he was an intern for two summers. “Travel is one of the things that gets me going every day. And every single night, sometimes,” he says. “I’m trying to bring a new modern millennial spin to travel photography, storytelling, and journalism in general. That’s why I’m excited about the future.”
There have been plenty of weird and wonderful adventures along the way—riding an ostrich and diving with great white sharks, consuming whale blubber and drinking a cocktail garnished with a severed human toe, and sleeping in a hotel made of ice and on swamp platforms above alligators. There have been quietly meaningful moments as well—glimpsing the enduring love shared by a local farming couple in their 80s, or capturing a silent exchange between an Amish father and son. “Above all, I try to just appreciate what I have around me, while I have it around me,” Guttman says. “A lot of things are fleeting in life and moments are the number-one thing I want to cultivate. I do that partially through photography, but it’s super important to see through your own eyes as well.”
To see more of his work, visit chaseguttman.com.
This story was first published on March 1, 2018 and last updated on . It also appeared as “Capturing the World” in the issue of Syracuse University Magazine.