There couldn't be a better title for Patagonia's retrospective outdoor photography book. It's not unexpected in terms of the photos—you see, we have come to expect the bizarre, funny, and unexpected from this crew—but what caught me off guard where the essays by the photographers.
As I write this review, I am sitting in my Airstream in the Mojave Desert reviewing recent images I shot for upcoming issues as well as personal projects. One major thing I have wrestled with in the past six months is "What is my voice now?" I am no longer able to do the kind of dirt-bagging that previous trips allowed now that I have my family with me. I am drawn to the lifestyle and work of amazing adventure photographers like John "Verm" Sherman, Jeff Johnson, and Cory Richards, but I know it isn't in my wheelhouse right now. After being depressed about this for the last month or two, my copy of Unexpected showed up general delivery at the post office near where I am posted up now, and it completely changed my thinking about what I am doing.
A mixture of knowing many of the folks behind Patagonia's photography and the relationship we have built with them over the years made me underestimate the power of testimony that is contained in this book. Jeff Johnson's story of how he became a staff photographer at Patagonia and Jennifer Ridgeway's account of meeting her husband and becoming a part of Patagonia in its infancy helped me remember how long good things take to come to fruition. Nothing good happens overnight.
Every time we've forgotten that lesson in the three years since starting The Collective Quarterly, we've been gently reminded by things like this book and the stories it contains. The reassurance of similar experiences are like meat and potatoes for the soul.
Verm Sherman's essay about his constant frustration (and almost depression at times) as a Patagonia photographer whose work was often too good or too daring to be purchased and used by Patagonia hit me like a ton of bricks. His work has always amazed me, and to hear of his vulnerable and self-critical tendencies helped me remember that we are always more critical of our own work than anyone else. So what if you can't live the life of those who inspire you? most likely you are living a life that they admire.
Hands down one of the best books I have looked through and read in the past few years. Do not delay in ordering this book. The inspiration you will gain from its contents can not be measured. —Jesse Lenz