Sometimes it’s the simplicity and elegance that captures my eye. Jon Sommers and Sean Farmer outside of Juneau, AK.
Snow in the city brings out the fun. Matt Donahue sessions with the tubbers on Mt. Tabor, Portland, OR.
At Kenny’s Cabin for Volcom’s Creedle Chronicles, Jamie Lynn flies like no one I’d ever seen before. Backcountry, UT.
Polaroid of Travis Rice on course at the Mt. Baker Banked Slalom.
Your early work was primarily a lot of black and white photos. What is your attraction to black and white, and do you still shoot it as much, or have you dabbled in color lately?
As a kid, I grew up learning about photography mostly from books. I studied what I considered the masters at the time: Bresson, Adams, Steiglitz, and Weston. For me it just made sense. A black and white photo seems to put you in the frame, in the same time and space that it was shot. They are timeless and emotive. I see in black and white: I see the contrasts, the highlights, the shadows all before I see any colors. When I shoot digital, I’m shooting RAW, so they are color. But sometimes it’s just an after thought.
Who were some of your favorite snowboarders to shoot with and why?
The people I grew up with: Matt Donahue, Jamie Lynn, Temple Cummins, the Mt. Baker Crew, Craig, of course. I guess it was all the guys in my backyard of the PNW. Watching them grow up, get better and push the bar was pretty awesome.
What’s your favorite camera to shoot and why?
Leica M6. Why? It’s a Leica. It’s durable, amazingly sharp, simple design, quiet and unobtrusive.
You’ve definitely captured some iconic moments over the years. What are some of these moments that stand out in your mind as unforgettable images?
Thanks. I’m pretty humble as an artist, and especially with regard to specific works. I don’t think it’s my place to answer this. It’s a question for viewers to answer.
Russell Winfield stands for a portrait at Stevens Pass, WA.
Who are some photographers that you looked up to when you first started shooting snowboarding, and ones that you look up to now?
Most of my influences were outside the snowboarding industry with the exception of two: Trevor Graves and Justin Hostynek. Both of these guys were pushing the limits and their creativity in shooting snowboarding and its culture. I was amazed at their ingenuity and creative prowess inside our little sport. They kept me going, searching for new ways to tell the stories we were experiencing. Nowadays, I mostly look to photographers with a unique take on their world. Jacob aue Sobol, Daido Moriyama, Robert Frank and Josef Koudelka are my biggest influences today.
Do you have any advice for up and coming photographers who may be reading this?
Shoot, shoot, and shoot more. Always have your camera with you. There’s more to snowboarding than the action shot. Sometimes those moments getting to the hill tell a better story. Understand that the essentials are outside the computer, i.e. in the physical darkroom. Study how prints are made. Don't expect a magic filter to make your image great. Practice over gadgets. Study the photographers whose work you like. See how they made their images, and don't replicate them, but use what you've learned and put it into practice when you’re out in the field. Editors don’t always recognize good photos, so keep submitting, and then shoot some more.
Craig Kelly was a person that you shot with a lot during your snow photography career. What was it like to work with Craig and how was he an influence on your photography?
At first I was very intimidated. It was Craig Kelly, someone I had looked up to and idolized for a long time. On our first trip together in Alaska my intimidation wore off immediately. He had invited me on this trip because he liked my work, so really there was nothing to be scared about. Over the years that we worked together, our friendship deepened, and we went on some of the best adventures of my life. He understood how I shot, and I understood how he rode, and that is what makes great images. He trusted me with my camera anytime and anywhere, which is all I could ask of anyone.
If you had never picked up a camera, what would you see yourself doing?
I have had a camera in my hand since I was twelve years old, so I can’t really ever see myself without one. Accounting? Farming? Hoboing? I can’t say.