Raphaël Garagnon, France
When did you fall in love with what you do and how did you get started?
A few years ago, I had the opportunity to learn paragliding with my best friend. Back then I couldn’t imagine how much I’d love this sport. Paragliding is quite accessible: you need to be patient and consistent but soon you are able to fly on your own in various conditions and sites. Being under my glider is a unique and exceptional feeling. I can’t get tired of it!
Who was or still is your mentor?
There are many people that inspire me. One of them is Yvon Chouinard, not only an accomplished climber/mountaineer but also a businessman who managed to build one of the leading outdoors companies (Patagonia) while also thinking about our planet and taking actions for it.
What difference are you striving to make in the world? (big or small, it all counts!)
I feel very fortunate to live where I live (in paradise aka the French Alps) and to be able to do what I love. Waking up every morning is another opportunity to have a beautiful day. It’s important to be grateful & look back to where you come from and what you’ve done. When possible, I try to give back and share what I love with others. Even in the daily routine, I try to do at least one thing that will make my day different than the previous. Do more and never stop dreaming, that’s enough to make my day exceptional.
What drives you on?
I have many dreams and projects to accomplish and the fact that time is inexorably moving on is a great source of fear but also motivation. I better start today what I’m aiming for tomorrow…
If there was one piece advice you could give to people aspiring to do what you do, what would it be?
For photography: It’s never been so easy to take pictures, yet it has never been so difficult to differentiate. Pressing the shutter button is the easy part, the before might be more difficult. Instead of taking dozens of pictures, thinking about one is best. It has to be THE ONE. Try to think as if you only had one shot. Think about your composition, the best angle, the message, the lighting... what do you want your photography to tell?
I think that shooting manual with prime lens (fixed focal length) is a great way to learn about the camera when starting out.
For paragliding: try a tandem flight… If you love it (and I’m pretty sure you will), consider taking courses to learn flying on your own.
What is the greatest challenge of our time?
I am quite concerned about the present environmental crisis. The impact of humankind is terrifying. Through all our actions we have to make sure that we reverse this trend. There is no gesture too small and it can make a change. Acting in favour of the environment is good way to be exceptional.