Feature: New Jack City Climbing


Words & Photos by Shani Leead - shanileeadphotography.com

Shani Leead is a Los Angeles based photographer with an affinity for outdoor adventures and a case of the doodle bug. (Note: it is recommended to keep your important documents away from her as her tendency to doodle is mildly uncontrollable). She views the world through the lens of a camera and often manipulates time and space like Walter Mitty (her favorite fictional character). Through her art she shares stories that she hopes will inspire, entertain, and influence people in the raddest ways possible.

You know the expression, “the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence”? It’s part of the reason that I started my adventure blog. I needed a way to let go of unnecessary comparisons and learn to enjoy the journey that I’m already on. Whether I’m traveling out of the country or driving a few minutes to a hike near my home, I always bring my camera with me. I see the wonder in these moments of adventure, and can’t help documenting it. I found that sharing my experiences through writing, photography and illustration allowed me to enjoy the journey. I thought, if I can inspire people by bringing honest and beautiful art onto their screens, why not take that opportunity?

A couple years ago I entered the world of adventure sports. My best friend is into rock climbing, surfing, kayaking, ice climbing...you name it, she’s done it...or it’s on her list. At first, these activities were way out of my comfort zone. But as I joined on these adventure trips, it soon became a big part of my life as well-both in participating and documenting. My ability to capture these incredible feats of human strength and endurance became my passion.

One of my favorite sports to capture is rock climbing. And if you’re looking for a way to live fully in the moment, rock climbing is it. There is not much else I can think about when climbing other than making it up and back down, while also trying not to fixate on the height exposure or what could go wrong. Easier said than done. On a recent climbing trip at New Jack City I had almost given up on a climb as the fear took over. It was the mental, rather than physical challenge that had exhausted me. But, thanks to the encouragement of my best friend, I was able to get to the top. I was incredibly proud.  

Climbing is a challenge. Creating a life and career that you are passionate about is a challenge. If we fixate on all the things that could go wrong, we will be stuck in the middle of a climb, afraid to keep going. But with a little encouragement from a friend, a belief in your work and your abilities, and a drive to share your authentic self, I know we can all make it to the top together.  


For the dreamer - For the adventurer