In a field where most images are comprised of white snow, possibly trees, and a figure floating in the air it can be hard to make your shots stand out from the rest. However, when flipping through a shred magazine I can normally pick out Daniel Blom’s shots without peeking at the photo credit. This Sweden-based photographer has developed a style of his own within snowboard shutter-clickers, and there is something to be said for that. Once a SNOWBOARDER Magazine staff photographer, he still shoots features for us on a regular basis and carries an impressive client list including ESPN, Adidas, Nike 6.0, Volcom, Bonfire, Quiksilver, and many more. Meet Daniel Blom….
– Laura Austin
L: You have a pretty diverse and impressive portfolio of work that seems like it could take you to any industry you chose…why snowboard photography?
D: Snowboarding is where I started out about ten years ago. The last few years I felt more of an urge to try some different kinds of photography. I felt a bit like I was stagnating in my photography and wanted to explore something different to be able to get better at the snow work too. Right now I'm trying out a bit of everything to see where I want to end up; might be portraiture, landscape or other sports work. Not really sure where I'm going to land yet but hope to always keep shooting snowboarding.
L: It looks like you have a new project in the works, Drifting Decade. Tell us what that is all about.
D: Drifting Decade is my book project coming out this fall in late September. It marks ten years of shooting the shred and I figured I had to make something out of it. The book features about 300 photos on 240 pages and I tried to include everything from Scandinavian Handrails with Eero Ettala to big Alaska lines with Nicolas Müller and Travis Rice. I felt like snowboarding has given me so much and now when I had the opportunity I wanted to try and give something back. We've worked for about half a year now to complete the book and sort out everything with printing, funding, and distribution. At first I wanted to try and find sponsors to help me out with the project but in the end I ended up doing it by myself, a decision that I think will feel better in the long run. Check it out at http://www.driftingdecade.com
L: You shoot primarily film. What’s the draw and does it make it more difficult on the backend in this digital age?
D: I used to shoot mainly film for a long time. These days it's more about what the client needs, but I try to shoot most of my personal stuff with film for sure. I just bought a 4×5 Linhof large format which has been so fun to shoot with, produces some great looking images, and working that slow is almost like meditation in this day and age. To reproduce a similar look with digi you need some really expensive medium format digi setup, and then a retoucher with some solid skills, so film is still claiming its ground, which is nice to see.
L: I’m always interested to hear what professional photographers think of Instagram. Do you have an opinion on it or “iPhonography” in general?
D: I love that it's getting more people into photography, which I totally think it is. It's a bit tricky as a photographer though, in that it's a channel where people might expect you to publish sick photos all the time, which is not always the case. It's pretty funny when you're on a shoot and people turn it into an Insta-contest right away so when I point my camera at something, one of the people in the crew for sure shot it already while you were busy switching lens.
L: What was your favorite snowboard-related trip last season?
D: My favorite trip shooting was the Norwegian adventure I went on with Nitro. Bryan Fox, Austin Smith, Knut Eliassen, Curtis Ciszek, filmer Per-Hampus Stålhandske and I spent some time on a boat around Lofoten, splitboarded a bunch of peaks, walked for miles, caught fish, celebrated the national day, explored caves, camped, checked out the arctic circle, and wrapped it up with Metallica live in Oslo before flying out. Probably one of my top three snowboarding trips ever. Another awesome thing was to check out Nike's Chosen finals down in Austria. The park those guys made was all-out insane.
L: Is it tough sometimes to sit back and shoot while your subjects shred? How often do you get to set aside the camera bag and actually ride?
D: It can be tough when you see people hit pillows in Japan or having a great time in a slushy park, but when the big fish send it down AK/NZ stuff, I'm pretty happy to be at the bottom. Even though you're shooting you can still get some great runs with the backpack; the gear weighs less and less these days, too. My best run ever was actually with a backpack in Alaska a few years back.
L: Do you have any tricks to keep your fingers warm while shooting in freezing temperatures?
D: Use proper gloves, if that doesn't work, set up a camp fire, if that doesn't work make sure you get the still and then go get a coffee while the guy tries to get it on film.
L: What photo or collection of photos from a shoot are you most proud of?
D: I'm pretty happy about what I got out of the season when I first became a Senior at SNOWBOARDER. Some awesome trips to AK and Japan with great people, scored the cover of the Photo Annual with Eiki Helgason before everyone knew who he was. Still have a lot of those images in my folio and a lot will be featured in Drifting Decade. Another thing about that was that I was pretty much only shooting with my Hasselblad that year, one lens. Keeping things simple is great.
L: Do you think the snowboard scenes in the US and Europe are different?
D: Yeah for sure, over in Europe the different type of terrain and culture in-between countries plays a big role in the snowboarding scene. What people like in Austria might not be what people in Sweden are into and vice versa. Since a lot of the bigger companies are US-based, the Euro market is of course influenced a lot from what goes on in America.
L: Any tips for kids out there trying to break their way into becoming a published snowboard photographer?
D: A bunch! One would be to try and assist a photographer that has nothing to do with snowboarding to learn some more tech photo stuff and general photography business. On that note it's a bit sad to see how a lot of companies get away with paying the photographers 300 bucks for ad photos. Know your value, if not you won't make it far no matter what your images look like. Also, move close to the mountain and learn how to shoot in any type of terrain. You'll need to know how to shoot in the backcountry and on the street these days when budgets are getting slimmer. Most of all though, never forget why you wanted to do it in the first place; hopefully out of love for the shred.
To see more of Daniel’s work check out his portfolio