Shooting on the snow combines an intense and meticulous organization that puts together the photographer’s abilities and the uncontrollable mother nature.
The more the photographer is able to walk, ski or maybe even fly in some situations that take him out of his comfort zone the better the result will be.
I spent the past years working with world class level athletes and mountaineers and this experiences brought me the freedom of getting great images. The freedom of getting a shot in a winter environment comes from the fact that you can concentrate all your creativity and imagination only on the picture that you have in mind without worrying about the extreme conditions. Also because I like them.
Wind, temperature, snowpack and many more things need to be considered when shooting winter sports. When the wind is blowing hard it pushes all the snow on gears and lenses, low temperature shorten battery life and forces you to use gloves even while shooting making all the natural processes of setting up the camera slower. The snow can change very fast in time depending on light exposure and wind; the biggest risk are the avalanches: you must be really experienced and prudent also if you need to take home the shot and get the job done.
All these factors don’t depend on the photographer but in any case a pro must deal with them. But even perfect conditions still don’t guarantee the optimal result: when there is a skier or a snowboarder in front of your lens he has to perform properly in the right place in the right time. Miscommunication between the rider and photographer can lead to miss the shot, you have to learn the athlete style and his interpretation of the mountains. You can try several times to have the perfect move but most of the time tracked snow doesn’t look that great anymore and some other times you just have one chance.
Sometimes you score and some time you lose. Only training makes you a pro.
Travelling is the biggest benefit to be an outdoor photographer. I have been blessed to visit places like Japan, Greenland, Alaska, Antarctica, Alps … and many more. Traveling has been kind of my school of life. I have seen so many different places and cultures that have influenced my way of thinking… And my way of shooting…
When you get to a new place the inspiration comes from the need to describe and portray your feelings, your experience and your original point of view of the action and of the location.
In some location you need to shoot from the other part of the valley to describe all the action and how brutal the scenery is. Sometimes you need to shoot from below to underline how deep and light the snow is. In some occasions I preferred to shoot from above and I used a motorized paraglide.
There is no better feeling than nail a banger shot. Quite often you know it straight away after pushing the trigger. Sometimes you realize on edit that, wow, that turned out way better than I thought. To me one really good photo is more satisfying than 50 average ones. To catch a perfect shot you kind often need a bit of luck. I have been lucky several times but I still think that the creativity is the key to success. I really look up to those photographers who are doing things in a different way. I would like to be one of those guys that people are pointing at whispering, ”you remember that photo taken by that guy?!!”.
Patience is important: maybe you need to wait 4 winters to get the perfect condition to get the shot. Patience means also not to settle for the first try. Aim to the best that you might be capable to reach! Ask yourself what is a good photo to you? Which message do you want to deliver?
Hunting the best snow with professional athletes has its down sides too. I have seen people injured badly and even worse than that. It is horrible to see your friends lying in a hospital or being sent to last trip by his family. But if you are asking me it is worthy, no, I don’t think any photo is worth of this but at the same time we all know the risks on playing on snow. It is all about the passion.