I decided to change things up for this week’s “Lens Crafters” by throwing an up-and-coming photographer into the mix. It’s almost hard for me to call Aaron Blatt “up-and-coming” because I’ve known the guy for years, both of us with roots on the east coast, and have witnessed his photography and career progress so quickly. Being young and talented is normally accompanied by quite the ego, but such is not the case with Aaron. With his laid back and humble demeanor he becomes everyone’s favorite person within the first few minutes of meeting them. If you have ever been to Mt. Hood the past few summers you may have been captured by his lens with his previous role as the staff photographer of High Cascade Snowboard Camp. But once winter rolls around he spends his time roaming wherever the snow is good and a photographer is needed. Here is Aaron Blatt… -Laura Austin
Name: Aaron Blatt
Home Mtn: Wachusett MA/Sugarbush VT
Do you think growing up on the East Coast has helped or hurt you getting started in your career?
I think growing up back East helped me in both my photography and career. On the technical side of photography, shooting on the east poses many challenges – number one for me is lack of sunlight during a great deal of the season. As I was learning to shoot I was rigging up, firing strobes, and compensating for the gray days that undoubtedly shrouded the mountains and spots of the North East during any given winter. Once I traveled to places with incredible natural light, I felt like I was well prepared. I wasn’t going to waste a second of that sunlight, and once it was gone I still knew what to do.
On the career side of things, I was able to get in with an insanely motivated and tight knit community of snowboarders, who were down to straight-line icy slopes, make magazines with no budgets, and in the long run stick together while exploring the rest of the world.
You went to school for graphic design… what made you make the switch to photography?
I wouldn’t say I jumped ship on graphic design – I still love to draw, paint and design. I found out that I could see the world while shooting photos and that was insanely enticing. I’m keeping my knives sharp on the design front, and in doing so I feel like I’m able to keep my photography fresh.
What is your favorite part about living in Hood during the summer?
Living in a place where everyone is coming through to snowboard, you get to catch up with so many friends and that rules, but my favorite part about Hood are the places you can cruise out to with those friends. The coast is wild, the city is fun, and the camp spots all around the surrounding forest are among the best in the world as far as I’m concerned. I love the downtime up there.
You spend a lot of time around young, talented riders… fresh meat if you will… who do you think is the next to blow up?
So much fresh meat… I’m watching these spring chickens: Hans and Nils Mindnich, Alex Rodway, and Keegan Hosefros.
What advice would you give a kid who wanted to be a staff photographer at one of the summer camps?
Best advice I could give a kid who wanted to be a photographer anywhere would be to put together a portfolio. In hiring people to shoot for High Cascade over the last few years, I found it very hard to read through an application if I couldn’t see their work first.
What photographer(s) do you look up to?
When I was flipping through the magazines I was always struck by Blotto, Curtes, Moran, Zimmerman, and Cole’s work. Getting to know some of those guys, I can truly say I look up to them – they’re all stand up guys with incredible talent.
Do you think people either have a good eye or they don't… or can someone learn how to take great photos?
I think anyone can take a great photo given the right situation – the learning and years behind a great photographer allow them confidence behind the lens in a challenging situation.
If you could shoot with only five riders for the rest of your career who would they be?
Dang. Off the top of my head… Yale Cousino, Chris Grenier, Scotty Stevens, Johnny Murphy, and Danny Larsen. There’s so many more, but I don’t think I could go wrong with those five.
What is the best and worst part of being a freelance photographer?
I really found myself in this situation, and the best part about it has been building something for myself – at the end of the day it’s awesome to be a small business owner. The downside can be the lack of structure – having to create paperwork from the ground up to stay organized, managing taxes, and boring shit… I’m trying to learn to appreciate the boring shit.
What piece of gear in your camera bag is most important to you?
I picked up Canon’s 50mm/1.2 – I don’t think I can live without it anymore… I always daydream about going on a trip with just that lens and a 5D, maybe I’ll try it.
What is the craziest thing you have seen go down in Govy?
First off, things aren’t nearly as crazy up there as the stories I’ve heard from the past, but I feel like I’ve seen some things. From sketchy hook ups, to house fires, back to back to back strip club missions to the city, bar fights, and the dog getting stolen, I’ve got no single craziest thing I’ve seen up there. No law enforcement for 30 miles makes for some strange days.
Have any goals for the upcoming winter?
I try not to limit my goals to single seasons… That beings said, I’ve got a solid list of things I’d like to get done.
To see more from Aaron make sure you check out his website/blog.