Brice Portolano was born in 1991 and grew up in Provence before studying at La Sorbonne and École des Gobelins, Paris. Driven by the love of travel and open spaces, he runs a long-term book project "No Signal" about men and women returning to nature at a time when more than half of the world's population lives in urban areas.From Alaska to Mongolia, Siberia and Lapland, witness of his time, Brice also has a large number of followers and fans on IG, nearly 66k who live the adventure with him.
He also publishes his work in the press and works in command for advertisers who seek the authenticity behind the story stelling. Brice’ s intimate relation with nature places him into a generation of pionner-photographers related to new ways of living the interaction between human and nature.
Neuquén Province, Argentina - 2020
Located in the high-plateaux of northern Patagonia stands the cattle farm of a gaucho family. For the past 6 years, Sky, her husband Luciano and their 5 years-old son Leo have been living a simple and self-reliant life, close to nature.
Battered by strong winds all year round and heavy snowfalls in the winter, this rugged and remote area desn’t offers any signal nor any service to its few inhabitants. While solar-panels provide the family basic lighting at night, a natural spring brings them freshwater and irrigates the vast steppe where the family’s 300 cows and their herds of goats, sheep and horses graze all day. Dairy products such as raw milk, butter and cream are kept fresh in the stream running from the spring at a constant temperature of 8°C, and goat or lamb meat is usually hanged outside before being cooked in a stew or on the fire.
Every summer, Sky and Luciano gather their cattle for a several days-long cat- tle-drive to the higher grazing grounds up in the Andes mountains. With the help of a few other gauchos, they’ll bring their cattle through the valleys, rivers and mountains, their ponchos covered in the dust raised by the cattle.
A timeless way of living in these remote mountains where most inhabitants have moved to the cities, following employment opportunities and higher stan- dards of living. The repetitive droughts and difficulties that come with such a lifestyle have led many traditional gauchos to chose another path, but for Sky who was born in Colorado and chose this life consciously at the age of 18, this is not an option:
“Every time in travel to the city, I feel a huge emptiness. It’s very interesting. It makes me realize I’m very connected to nature and to this life.”
But she’s aware her family might not be able to live like this forever: “I’m quite conscious that it may not last a lot longer. We’re worried about the droughts... It doesn’t look like it’s going to stop soon. A big cattle operation is perhaps not something for the future.” says Sky, wisely.
In the meantime, and for as long as they can, the family will keep living un- plugged, at their own pace.
Last Frontier, Alaska
Prince of Wales
Alaska, USA - 2015
Four dedicated telephone lines, a fax line and days to buy and sell houses. This is the daily life of Jerry Ryggs, real estate agent in Michigan when he made a professional burnout in 2007. At the dawn of the subprime crisis, he decides to leave his job and this life he finds absurd to leave for Alaska , 4,000 km away.
After a few months in town in Ketchikan, Jerry hears of a good deal: a man who has been in prison for drug trafficking is trying to get rid of all his belongings at a low price. He jumps on the occasion and acquires a boat and an oyster farm in good working order.
Only problem: he has no experience in oyster farming. Regardless, it's never too late to learn and Jerry soon sets foot on Prince of Wales Island where he moored his new home in a deserted cove. It is a peculiarity in the region, it is legally difficult to build new homes on the island home of the Tongass National Forest, and some people have adapted by building floating homes.
This is where Jerry has been living for ten years at the rhythm of the tides, in an incredibly wild and unspoiled environment. At I h30 from the nearest town, self-sufficiency is inevitable and Jerry feeds on hunting, fishing, and picking berries and mushrooms.
Elk Hunter, Utah
ELK THE HUNTER
Salt Lake City, Utah - USA 2013-2015
By authorizing the use of growth hormones and vaccines in industrial farms, the Food and Drug Administration has made it possible to transform meat into a plentiful, accessible and inexpensive commodity. While processed foods are replacing traditional cooking, fruits and vegetables are also undergoing this quest to maximize yields through the intensive use of pesticides and GMOs.
In parallel with these many changes in the agri-food industry during the 20th century, the United States is now seeing the emergence of initiatives that stand in the way of this race for performance. Their goal is to bypass the conventional industry built around mass consumption and rediscover "real" food.
Ben and Katherine live in the western United States, only 5km from downtown Salt Lake City. In recent years, they have decided to produce almost all the food they consume and raise geese, chickens and ducks in their garden. They also grow a wide variety of fruits and vegetables in their vegetable garden while wine, cider and beer ferment in their cellar.
Three years ago, they made the decision to go further towards food self-sufficiency and to ensure almost all their meat consumption. Every fall, during the first snows of the year, Ben goes to the mountains of northeastern Utah to hunt game at more than 3000m altitude. On horseback and on foot, he tracks the elk for several days - sometimes a week - before returning home to the horses laden with meat.
Arctic Love, Finland
Inari, Lapland - FINLAND 2016
Tinja’s story is the 4th chapter of “No Signal”, a long-term project about people who have decided to leave the city and reconnect with nature.
Tinja Myllykangas lives in Northern Finland, 180 miles from the nearest big city. After studying biology for 6 years in Jyväskylä (Southern Finland) she de- cided to leave the city and go back to Lapland in the house she grew up in as a kid. She now owns 85 huskies and runs a dog sledding business with her boyfriend Alex that allows them to train all year-round and compete in races around Scandinavia.
Persian Rush, Iran
Au pied des monts Alborz, à quelques heures de Téhéran, Ali Ghoorchian s’en-traîne sans relâche dans la chaleur et la poussière pour les championnats du monde de tir à l’arc à cheval. Double champion du monde de cette discipline spectaculaire, le père de deux enfants n’a pas toujours été cavalier: ancien professeur d’art, il quitte sa femme et son travail il y a quelques années pour changer de vie et vivre pleinement sa passion pour les arts martiaux Perses.
“Ces montagnes sont mon royaume, à cheval je peux aller où je veux. Certains de mes proches n’ont pas compris mon besoin de partir, ils m’ont conseillé d’arrêter les arts martiaux pour me consacrer à une vie plus classique...”
In the Taïga, Mongolia
IN THE TAÏGA
Zaya’s story is the 6th chapter of “No Signal”, a long-term project about people who have decided to leave the city and reconnect with nature.
As a teenager growing up in the suburbs of Boulder, Colorado, Zaya never thought she would one day become a reindeer herder and live in the middle of the taiga. “At the time I didn’t know that reindeer existed !” she’ll admit, laughing, before taking a look outside of her tepee.
It was only when she got back to Mongolia at the age of 19 that Zaya discov- ered the taïga, a type of swampy coniferous forest covering most of Siberia.
After studying international relations in Shanghai, the young woman is hired by an NGO that works to protect and support a well-known nomadic tribe: the Tsaatan, also known as Dhuka.
Zaya discovers a world that she thought belonged to the past. She meets Oltsan, a young reindeer herder who soon becomes her husband, and adopts his nomadic way of life. She becomes a reindeer herder herself as they live in a tepee, foraging and hunting for their own food... Or at least they were until 2011 when hunting was banned in the area, making the life of the Tsaatan com- munity much more difficult.
“Living in a tepee can be challenging: the temperatures sometimes drop down to -50°C in the winter. Those days are hard but now I’m used to it. It’s crazy how quickly your body can adapt.”
The extreme isolation of this region makes trips to the city rare and difficult: it takes 3 days to drive to Ulaanbaatar, the capital city of Mongolia. One day on horseback and two days by car. A long trip that Zaya makes every winter to visit her family for Christmas.