We had the good fortune of connecting with Andrew Atencia and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Andrew, how do you think about risk?
Without a doubt, life would be nothing without pursuing the unknown. It’s how I learn lessons, backtrack on my approach and take life in through a bigger lens. In the perspective of physical risk, it must be pursued respectfully and thoughtfully. The inherent risks with engaging in mountain sports is what draws me to tackle on problems in a controlled manner. You have no control over the conditions or what situation nature throws at you, so you must be prepared and constantly improving daily to prepare for anything. Bikepacking 700 miles across three states on highways and backcountry trails may sound inherently risky, but what if we shifted our perspective on all of the things that could go right: a long time to bond with a close friend, catch nature in its shifting beauty, and be a witness to the world changing right in front of us. The days riding isn’t anything more than what is done in training – you just have to bring your own snacks and a tent.

Of course there have been times where I have overstepped that boundary, but that is where newfound understanding and respect can be found: right at the cusp of danger. Freedom is on the other side of fear and I couldn’t agree more. Risk cannot be completely removed, but it can be mitigated to move forward and succeed in any pursuit.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
The expression of awe and wonder with the natural world drives me to capture moments and interactions with it from many perspectives. What makes these moments so special is the active pursuit, the right time and place, that blink-and-its-gone ephemerality. I seek after frames that move people to feel emotion, to let an outsider into a world that is otherwise turbulent and chaotic, freezing cold or scorching hot. My style of photography takes life for its small slivers of beauty in the mundane, but also the endearing and contemplative in the grandest of landscapes. I don’t shoot for likes on social media or approval from others anymore. This is where the downfall of my art has started and have never let it conform to me since.

To get good at anything, you must continue to practice consistently. There cannot be downtime where you are not focused on getting better – it’s only going to slow you down. The tough part is the discipline, but also the most fundamental. Always have that sketchbook, camera or audio recorder on your person all times. Make time to hone in your craft in off times of your day. It’s not about how good of an artist you are, but how often you pick up and do the thing. Discipline stems from the first step of starting with solid habits – make it your daily goal. This is what has made all the difference.

I am nowhere near perfect and contain several imperfections. Above all, I want people to know me as a persistent human that never gives up, even while everyone else says it cannot be done or it’s too risky. See me as living proof of pursuing ones passions…because no one knows where that might lead to. Keep going.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I live in the pine-covered mountain town of Flagstaff, Arizona: the southwest mecca for outdoor adventures. A week-long trip in and around northern Arizona will not leave people unimpressed. To see this place in its raw entirety, you must be prepared for full days of non-stop action. I would start in downtown Flag at Mother Road Brewing Company: sip an iconic Tower Station IPA with the map on the table and draw out a road trip through the southwest. I’d grab breakfast to-go from Biff’s Bagels off of Beaver Street downtown and hightail it to the Grand Canyon. The South Rim is a must-see for first timers coming to Arizona. Sedona is the next stop, where here I’ll grab some artesian well water at Harding Spring and have a picnic on the banks of Oak Creek. I’ll drive up the 4WD track of Schnebley Hill Road to catch sunset over the red rocks to end the day. Take half the day to hike to, swim and cliff jump at The Crack on Wet Beaver Creek before driving west into Cornville and wine taste at Oak Creek Vineyards. The last stop before heading back to Flagstaff is the town of Jerome: a mining town-turned-artist community rich in history. Take a peek in the haunted hotel and stroll around the steep and vibrant streets. I recommend Vaqueros Grill & Cantina for authentic homestyle Mexican eats. Head back into Flagstaff through scenic 89A, up the switchbacks and into town.

There’s too much to see and do up here, but I’d hit all these places to show someone a great time!

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I want to take time to recognize how I got here in the first place: my father and mother. Their efforts and perseverance through hard work has allowed their children the privilege to pursue their higher meaning and passions. The necessity and dedication to creating a strong developmental foundation has led all my siblings to paths of self discovery in their pursuits that they were not allotted at a young age. It is because of them that I am here writing about my story and perspective.

Website: https://keepgoingaten.substack.com/publish

Instagram: @aten.xiaz: https://www.instagram.com/aten.xiaz/

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/messaging/thread/2-ZDJmZTQ1ZGMtODljNC00MWI0LWI2YzEtMzViNjFjNGZkZTM2XzAxMA==/

Youtube: @Andrew Atencia: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCDNoSzgh7tz5SiFb42dwFxg

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutArizona is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.