The world-first collaboration | Shackleton x Leica

The Frank Hurley Photographer's Jacket is the world's first extreme-weather photographer’s jacket, co-developed with professionals including expedition photographer Martin Hartley, and inspired by one of the greatest photojournalists of the 20th-century.

Cold weather has a drastic effect on camera gear, draining battery life and slowing moving parts. In addition to this, shooting in extreme regions poses numerous physical and mental challenges. With this in mind, we drew on our experience in lightweight, expedition-grade parkas and partnered with Leica Camera AG to develop the world’s first extreme-weather photographer’s jacket that will empower people to continue shooting through the coldest winter months.

THE INSPIRATION: FRANK HURLEY

The name is inspired by pioneering photographer Frank Hurley, the man responsible for documenting Shackleton’s 1914-17 Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition. He was a blunt-speaking, no-nonsense character who would go anywhere and do anything to capture the perfect image. To Hurley, the risk was always worth it for the picture.

The catalogue of movie and still images he took on the fateful expedition are arguably the greatest pictures ever taken in Antarctica. Hurley defined early Antarctic exploration to the world.

THE COLLABORATION: MARTIN HARTLEY

To ensure the Frank Hurley Photographer's Parka met the requirements of photographers working in tough conditions, we recruited the help of several outdoor photographers, including Martin Hartley, a renowned polar expedition photographer. He has worked in the harshest environments on earth – the likes of Greenland, Svalbard, Antarctica and Kyrgyzstan – and is the man responsible for documenting the last remaining ice fields in the Arctic Ocean.

He has endured conditions as low as -71ºC, narrowly avoided life-threatening situations on record-breaking expeditions, and has won numerous awards for his photography. He has an extensive understanding of the effects cold weather has on camera gear and how it can alter the mindset of a photographer.

“The first rule as a photographer,” Hartley says, “wherever you are in the world, is that you need to be able to access your kit easily and quickly, potentially with big gloves on – that way, you’re more likely to take more photos and capture fleeting moments. You don’t want to be taking off a backpack to reach kit, or having to remove gloves and open the jacket – you lose vital body heat, which you just can’t afford to do when it's extremely cold.

“Being warm is essential. When you get cold, nothing else matters apart from getting warm. It drastically alters the mind – if my hands are freezing, I’m less inclined to take a photo. When you’re warm you can think about angles and composition and generally be more creative. That’s the difference between capturing a great shot or not reaching for your camera at all. 

“Camera gear isn’t designed to work in cold conditions. Batteries lose their power and all the mechanisms tighten up. Lenses don’t focus, shutters don’t close and open, release buttons don’t go down. When it gets seriously cold, they freeze solid. It is really important to use body heat to try and keep batteries and the inner workings of a camera warm.” 

KEY FEATURES

Taking these specifications into consideration, we set out to engineer a photographer’s parka that was uncompromisingly warm, with performance-enhancing features and bespoke easy-access pockets.

  • Ergonomic, lightweight design to allow complete freedom of movement – none of the jacket's weight is put through the arms when the photographer looks through the viewfinder
  • Collapsible external drop pocket – big enough for a large camera body and lens and easily-accessed with gloves on
  • Zip parallel to central jacket opening – you don’t have to take off a back pack or open the jacket to get to internal pockets
  • Internal, easy-access pockets for batteries – designed to be against body core for thermal support, prolonging battery life
  • Bespoke inner pockets – plenty of customisable storage for devices and snacks
  • Upper arm zipped pocket – enables easy access to lens cleaner or snack when on the move
  • Graphene lining – provides ground-breaking heat distribution and prevents odour, bacteria, radiation and UV
  • 800 fill-power European goose down – offers superior insulation down to -25ºC
  • Hard-wearing Cordura shell – high-frequency seam-sealing protects photographer against harsh weather
  • Lateral underarm zips – regulate body temperature fast
  • Drop back design – prevents heat loss around the hem
  • Adjustable hood
  • Detachable synthetic fur hood trim
  • Internal storm cuffs