Tuesday, September 29, 2009

My Early Snowboard Photography Career 1992-1997

Every week I get at least one email from a guy who wants to become a snowboard photographer. They want to know what I did to get where I am now. The answer is simple. Shoot and submit. I used to take photos of my friends on weekends and then send them to the mags. I shot with an old manual camera on cheap print film and processed it in 24 hours at the drug store. Then I would send a self addressed stamped envelope to Jon Foster, TWS photo editor back then, with all my "jems". I had no clue what I was doing, and I'm sure it showed. Here is a photo I took of Devun Walsh on Blackcomb in '92 that I submitted to TWS. It would have been one of my first submissions. Devun and I were just weekend warriors back then.
In 1993 I had been shooting skate and snow photos for about a year and had a few shots published in a local zine that you could pick up at the local skate/snow shop. At this time I had saved up enough extra cash to buy a used fisheye lens. Excited to try it out I took it to Whistler on one of my weekend trips. I remember telling this girl I knew that the closer you hold the lens to something, the bigger it would look. She thought that was great, lifted her shirt and said "make these look bigger then". From that moment I fell in love with the fisheye. The following day I shot this photo of Nova Scotian transplant Scott Doucette at the Camp of Champions. "Douce" is now back in Nova Scotia where he runs a record label with his boy Trevor Andrew and doing quite well.
One day in 1995 I was talking with Kevin Sansalone and told me that some backcountry hikers told him of a zone behind Mt. Seymour that we could hike to and build jumps. Only a few people would go back there each month so most days would be untracked. We woke up one sunny day and decided to check it out along with Devun Walsh. I remember post holing a trail up in knee deep powder for about 30 minutes before stopping to build a jump on a knuckle we found. I set up and starting shooting. Devun yelled for me to come up to where he was dropping in from and have a look. Wow, you can see the city from here! I spent the rest of the session shooting from behind showcasing Vancouver in the background. It was on this day that the "city-booter" was born and from that day on, countless pros and wannabes have hiked this popular zone, turning the Seymour Backcountry into a household name.
In 1997, a group of us built this jump for the first time in the Mt. Seymour Backcountry and had Ross Steffy there to film it for Mack Dawg. Our crew was Rob Dow, Devun Walsh, Graham Clements and visiting pro Joey McGuire. Devun and Joey killed it with all kinds of 3's and 5's while Dow launched picture perfect methods for my camera. He wasn't too concerned about the video shot since he didn't have a spot in the movie. This photo was published as a Vans ad and won the "best ad" award in a Visual Arts magazine. Later that year, a photo I shot of Joey ended up on the cover of Snowboarder Magazine, and ever since the jump has been known as the McGuire hit.
For a few years around 1998 Rob Dow and Devun Walsh shared a basement suite of a house. Upstairs lived Dave Cashen and Graham Clements. This house, on Chesterfield Avenue in North Vancouver was known in the local snowboard community as the Chesterfield House. These guys didn't hold parties at the Chesterfield house, parties found the Chesterfield house. Every night was a new adventure, you just never knew who was gonna show up and what was gonna be lit on fire, stolen, broken or flipped upside down. One night we were all hanging out drinking and cabbed it downtown for the last 2 hours of the hip hop night at the Red Lounge. When we returned to the house all the doors downstairs were broken off the hinges and laying in the front yard. The kitchen floor was covered in broken glass and no one had any idea what happened. Just another weird night at the Chesterfield house. The next morning we woke up to sunny skies and headed to Whistler to shoot photos. I remember riding up the peak chair with Dev and he told me that he was still pretty drunk and not down to shoot. Until he got off the chair that is, and saw this cliff waiting for him on the backside. This was a pretty big cliff to stomp when your cross eyed.

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