Jorg Badura specializes in capturing the grit and passion of athletes and thrillseekers of all stripes, whether it’s in the studio or on location. He can get inside an athlete’s head and heart to express what drives them, what they are trying to achieve, and why it’s worth the fight to get there. “I want my photographs to inspire you to challenge yourself, to go on an adventure, to discover something new,” says Jorg, who appreciates peak performance not just in masterful athletes and seasoned adventurers but also in the everyday person who pushes him or herself to see what they are made of. His clients range from action-lifestyle brands like Eddie Bauer to advertising clients like German Telekom and New Balance and magazines such as Self, Shape, The New York Times Magazine, and Condé Nast Traveler.

Jorg’s personal projects are very much in line with his love of sport and nature. Since 2007, he has photographed the action and determined participants of the SEA Paddle NYC, a rigorous 26.5-mile paddle around the island of Manhattan that raises money for autism awareness and for the Surfers’ Environmental Alliance. And his blog features his photos of his adventurous neighbors in Little Peconic Bay, Long Island (“Backyard Project”), his own experiments with running sans footwear (“Barefoot Running”), the joys of motorcycling (“Riding”), and his experiences backcountry camping in Patagonia (“Chile Adventure Dispatches”).

Jorg was born and raised in the most northern rural area of Germany, between the North and Baltic Seas. “The southern Bavarians call us Fish Heads,” he says. “At this latitude, one can experience island life by the North Sea, or rural agriculture villages, or small harbor towns on the Baltic Sea fjords. Life in the Baltic is tough and hearty, and my connection with its nature runs deep. The forests, fields, lakes, oceans, and beaches have been my backyard since childhood.”

He began his career by documenting surfers and climbers he had befriended, which led to one of his first assignments: In 1993, sports-apparel brand Chiemsee sent him out on an adventure—cliff jumping, scurfing, climbing, hiking, wind surfing—to Lake Powell for a week to create product shots in action. The resulting images were dynamic but relatable, and that style of photography remains Jorg’s hallmark to this day.