Published in Onboard Magazine Issue 118, December 2010
Words: Danny Burrows
I read, with trepidation, an article in an annual by Reporters Without Borders lamenting the death of documentary photography. According to them, the financial crisis within print media was its executioner as the genre, including that of snowboarding, is far from cheap to create.
A photographer needs to be in the thick of the action for long stretches of time and in the case of snowboard photographers this means slavishly following snow and those that shred it. Unless committed solely to banging the metal and ‘crete of the urban sprawl then they also have the added expense of resorts and all the rip-off bars, restaurants and squats they contain.
The article went on to ask “who will now pay for photographers to get out in the field?”, answering with dread “corporations and/or institutions”. Why dread? Because when your pay master has an agenda, impartial reporting and freedom of observation get put away in the drawer labelled ‘obsolete’.
In the field of truth this is truly a worrying phenomenon – imagine BP paying New York Times photographers to cover the oil spill in the gulf, and then leveraging a biased report through advertising.
Thankfully for snowboard photographers there is nothing more sinister than their snaps selling product when bankrolled by a company, and for bottom livers like Onboard and its fellow mags the by-product of this clever marketing union of snapper and brand is more shots to get you guys stoked on snowboarding. I would say it’s a win-win situation if the brands don’t start counting, comparing the amount of shots used by a mag to their advertising spend – but then such an idea is far too Orwellian for such a bro-down industry as ours, surely.
So, the documenting of snowboarding pictures is alive and kicking like the temperamental beast it has always been; you might even go as far as to say that it is veritably booming across all levels of aptitude, from happy snapping seasonaires to seasoned pros, thanks to the advent of the digital camera. The danger here is that publishers with little care for the sanctity of quality photography start believing that any old shot will satiate the apetite of shredders. Fear not – in every snowboard magazine this idea stops at the editorial office door.
Without dedicated snowboard snappers who suffer aching feet, frozen fingers and battle with the the elements, both natural and financial, this photo issue would be rather empty. Therefore we dedicate this annual to them.
Keep on snapping.