Bode Merrill

When it comes to documenting snowboarding, the name Dean “Blotto” Gray is synonymous with everything creative, iconic, and progressive. Sitting behind a camera shooting a slew of the world’s most talented isn’t as easy as it sounds, especially when one has been doing such for almost twenty years. Photography is a creative outlet in which one digs deep to find new material and angles, and Blotto hasn’t lost one bit of stoke or passion to redefine his images and keep moving forward.

I remember coming down to visit Huggy at SNOWBOARDER back when I was a lowly contributor, and I came across a very high quality book that Blotto had put together as his photo submission. Most photographers at the time would send in sheets of slides, maybe a DVD with a contact sheet, but of course Blotto made an incredible one-off book as his sub. This was the first time that I got to see the passion firsthand and the willingness to take things a step further in hopes of being rewarded with more photos in the magazine. These are the types of things that Blotto brings to photography and his every day life, and because of this, we are all very eager to dig deep into his photo submissions every year.

As a collaborative effort, a snowboard photo is a combination of the vision of the photographer and also what the rider has imagined the picture to look like. Read up on the handful of snowboarders that have influenced how Blotto captures images along his journey. – Mike Yoshida

Bode Merrill

Bode Merrill

Danny Davis ‘Travelin Dan’ is a creative, steady working young lad from the hills of Michigan, who has certainly paved a unique path through snowboarding in just a few years. He took one part contest kid, one part video shred and topped it off with unique snowboarding events (Peace Park 1,2,3), while founding the Frendly Gathering Music Festival and Frends Headphones. Can Danny not sit still in making the most out of his time or what! Motivation comes easy for Dan and he’s certainly needed that in dealing with some big time injuries in pursuit of his snowboarding career, and that’s where a big high-five goes out to Dan. Whether you hang out with Danny or not, you would never know he’s been broken off way too many times, career ending type injuries that would ruin the best of us, but homie keeps moving forward, never saying a word or leaning on the excuse stick. It’s no big secret to Danny’s success; he’s positively motivated using his natural ability to the fullest, going with what feels right and lets the rest fall into place; while entertaining us all. Much respect Danny. Blotto

Bode Merrill

Bode Merrill

Bode Merrill

Bode Merrill

Bode Merrill

Bode Merrill

Bode Merrill

Bode Merrill

Bode Merrill

Gigi Ruf In December of 1999, I made a call to Whitey at Kingpin Productions to talk about potential Burton riders for his upcoming film Destroyer, as my job at Burton was Team Manager and that’s the sort of thing TM’s do as the season is getting started. We chitchatted about this and that, who he was interested in from our squad and of course throw out some names maybe he hadn’t heard about before. One of the European Burton riders had expressed interest in filming with a USA based video crew and that was 18-year old Gigi Rüf, so Whitey said ‘bring him over, link up with Brad Kremer and see what happens.’ In February of 2000, I picked up Gigi in Los Angeles and we headed up to Snow Summit for the Team Challenge, and basically meet Brad Kremer for our first time. Brad was Whitey’s chief cinematographer at the time traveling, filming and taking care of the riders 24 hours a day to get their segments started and finished. We rode, filmed and photographed at Snow Summit for two days and it quickly became apparent Gigi would fit into the Kingpin line up. I remember clear as day Brad asking me while we were filming “you think Gigi can ride in the backcountry?” My response was “…well, he’s riding this good in the park, and he comes from the Austrian Alps, so there’s a good chance…” With Brad’s decision made as we sat witnessing this soft-spoken Austria ripper take apart the terrain park, it was off to Lake Tahoe to see what Gigi could do in the mountains. The first day would be with Scott E. Whitlake and Blaise Rosenthal at the I-80 Drop with two feet of fresh snow, sun and a session at a rather famous location. Cameras ready, boots in the bindings, Gigi dropped in and set down his first backcountry trickery on the US population with a frontside 360… The following day I departed to the next team assignment as Gigi was in good hands filming with Brad, living and riding with Scott E and Blaise, while being really far away from home with new people and new sights. The next two months went just fine and would put Gigi on the map permanently…and the rest is an ongoing history. Blotto

Bode Merrill

Bode Merrill

Bode Merrill

Bode Merrill

Bode Merrill

Bode Merrill

Bode Merrill

Bode Merrill

Jeremy Jones Many years ago while I was a semi-amateur snowboarder, Jeremy Jones was already on the map, crushing video parts, laying down hammers, paving the way in planning and executing film segments. The time came when Jeremy joined Burton, while I was an active team manager and amateur photographer. News of Jeremy’s arrival was welcomed with open arms; this would be the opportunity to work with one of those snowboarders that makes stuff happen no matter what, while hopefully learning a thing or two from him, and maybe I could show Mr. Jones a few of my tricks of the trade. Looking back on these past ten years, Jeremy never waivered on getting a clip for a video segment, nor did he ever turn his back on helping the young Burton team riders around him, as well as making sure his photographers and filmers had everything they needed from any and every photo shoot. The foundation Jeremy has laid for modern snowboarding, snowboarders and video parts is undeniable, as is his dedication to friends, family, colleagues and his profession. Respect.

Bode Merrill

Bode Merrill

Bode Merrill

Bode Merrill

Bode Merrill

Bode Merrill

Bode Merrill

Bode Merrill

Kelly Clark There’s the often written about two sides of snowboarding; the competitor and the video part rider, and to me, these are very similar paths through a snowboarding career Kelly Clark has earned her livelihood through the competitive side of snowboarding, compiling seventy some odd victories over the years winning any and everything that places riders in a one, two, three order. Similarly, there’s a mountain full of video fanatics who categorize the opening segment in a film as the ‘second best part’ of a movie, while the ‘ender’ is the rider having the best and the most clips, therefore giving him or her the gold medal of said production. What I find oddly similar in choosing either of these paths is you still have to land tricks, you constantly need to be learning new maneuvers, you’re going to get beat down and you need a clear path to sustain any sort of consistency season after season…all while traveling and hanging with your friends having a good time. Kelly set out to do well in competitive snowboarding, creating a plan, acting on it and staying dedicated. I respect that as much as the handful of snowboarders who’ve graced our high-def units year after year with freestyle snowboarding clips packed into a three-minute collage. As you could imagine, shooting with Kelly is all about making the most of the day, no matter where we’re at, under any weather or condition related circumstance, ending the day with high-fives and looking forward to the next.

Bode Merrill

Bode Merrill

Bode Merrill

Bode Merrill

Bode Merrill

Bode Merrill

Bode Merrill

Bode Merrill

Mikkel Bang You know when you see a dude ripping in person, in the videos or maybe via word of mouth? Sometimes you have to wonder where this person came from, how did he get this good at snowboarding, what were the influencing factors, etc. Well, one year while arriving at the Hemsedal spring session (2001), the then team manager of Burton (Rene Hansen) introduced me to Mikkel Bang, an enthusiastic 11-year old snowboarder from Oslo. What I didn’t know then was this would be the start to witnessing how a naturally gifted snowboarder would go from grom to super ripper. You have to remember that Hemsedal in the early 2000’s was packed to the gills with big name professional riders filming on gigantic tabletop and hip features. Along with these custom built obstacles, the lifts were running, the park was in good shape and there was the training booter and hip at the bottom of the resort. Basically you could snowboard on any size jump or hip any hour of the day for five weeks, a playground with zero rules, filmers and photographers everywhere and homies ripping everything in sight. During this time Mikkel was right in the mix, hanging out, building mini-shred stuff, tuning the lip and landings of the big jumps and hips, learning so much from so many rad dudes with style and knowledge, then incorporating that Bang Bang stoke and ability to do just about anything he put his mind to. There’s a story that comes with every snowboarder on this planet, I’m glad the moons aligned and I was able to be around Mikkel from those early days all the way through to today. It’s been a treat the entire time and I don’t see that stopping anytime soon. Blotto

Bode Merrill

Bode Merrill

Bode Merrill

Bode Merrill

Bode Merrill

Bode Merrill