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Life Begins Outside Your Comfort Zone — Mike Kelley

Ben Ashby

Below is a preview of my conversation with Boston based photographer Mike Kelley.

READ THE FULL CONVERSATION IN FOLK’S SUMMER ISSUE | ORDER HERE

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Mike Kelley is a Maine native, Boston resident, and wanderlust at heart that stole our hearts with his calm landscapes, cloudy skies, and images of coastal New England culture.


Why do you explore? I explore for one simple reason, fear of missing out. There are so many places in this world, without exploring and putting myself out there I am scared that I will miss out on truly incredible experiences. 

Why take risks in life? Life begins outside your comfort zone.

 Where are you from? Manchester, Maine.

When you were growing up what or who did you want to be? Growing up...well as a kid...I wanted more than anything to be a paleontologist. I was very much obsessed with dinosaurs and fossils so it was my dream to search for them as a career. Coincidentally I also loved managing money...this is what lead me to the finance field.

Give us a story: 17,000 ft. That’s how high I was in the Bolivian Andes when I blacked out. No memory of the last 1,300 ft of hiking. If you know anything about me, I sometimes make spontaneous, questionable decisions, this was one of those…I arrived in La Paz Bolivia the night before, a city that sits at 11,000ft above sea level. Most people have a hard time breathing the first couple days in the city and many get sick from the lack of oxygen. For some reason, I was fine. I noticed some pressure in my lungs, but nothing I wasn’t already used to. I arrived to my hostel at 10pm on a Monday night, knowing full well that I had Tuesday free (I had planned to do the death road on Wednesday) I called up a local travel agency that was still open and booked a hike for the following morning. 7am I met up with my guide, Choco who didn’t speak a lick of English and we headed into the mountains. A two hour drive and we arrived at the mountain base. A hike with just over 4,000 ft of elevation gain. I can do this easy peasy I thought. We headed up. Within an hour my head ache was becoming unbearable, my vision began to blur, my stomach felt like it was being stabbed constantly by a knife. I had NEVER in my life felt so unbelievably uncomfortable. Symptoms I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. As stubborn as I was, I pushed forward, higher and higher. The symptoms got worse. Little did I know I was entering the early stages of a very serious condition, HAPE, High Altitude Pulmonary Edema. I pushed onward, until I couldn’t anymore. Choco braced me as I lay on the rocks and forced our trip back down the mountain. 17,113ft…I made it just 100 ft. from the summit he later told me in his broken English. This day changed my life, I realized the overwhelming power of nature, something I will never, ever doubt again. So let it be known, take risks in life, but make sure they are calculated or else you may never have the opportunity again.


READ THE FULL CONVERSATION IN FOLK’S SUMMER ISSUE | ORDER HERE

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Romance Your Wild — Jay McDonald

Ben Ashby

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A PREVIEW FROM FOLK’S SUMMER 2019 ISSUE. CLICH HERE TO READ THE FULL STORY.

Jay McDonald brings a quality to adventure and photography that is met with equal amounts of humble humor and top notch skills. Known for his portraits in nature and his crystal clear landscapes he has stolen our hearts with his love of the wild.



Why do you adventure? Well, to be honest I have severe ADHD and I can’t stand being in one place for a long period of time. I wish I had a more poetic and whimsical answer for you but that’s the real life truth right there haha.

Why do you explore? I think deep down inside of every one of us there is always  that little curious spark. We were built to get up, go further, run faster, etc.. And simply because it’s 2018, a lot of people have settled. I just can’t be one of those people. The nomadic life is long gone, but there’s still a little bit of nomad left in each one of us.

Why take risks in life? Life is too short not to. My older brother Kylan killed himself when I was 16 years old. That same summer, my life long very best friend’s Dad did the same. Prior to that, my Uncle (and more.. the list goes on but I think you get the point). It feels like I have been surrounded by sudden death from mental health and other things my whole life. I value fulfillment, happiness, joy, adventure and love over anything else. The statistics that you and I should both not be alive right now are too high not to do something crazy and live a little. As cliche as it is for me to say this, you have to “Romance Your Wild”, because today might be your last chance. 

What is your 9-5? I am a full time commercial photographer (yes not everything I shoot looks like my Instagram)... I had pursued a promising career in exotic dancing but apparently “Chip and Whales” wasn’t very marketable and I wasn’t willing decrease my carbs or fat load. If I am going to bring home the bacon, I am gonna eat it too.

READ THE FULL STORY IN OUR SUMMER 2019 ISSUE. CLICK HERE TO ORDER.

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