Behind The Shot: Zach Hooper

Matt Ladley, Lofty Back Tail, Aspen © Zach Hooper. Click to go BIG.

Behind the Shot brings you every week or so a sick shot from a rad photographer, where they explain the context of the photo session, as well as all the technical aspects you might want to know about. If you’re a snowboard photo geek, this is for you!

After we focussed on our senior photographer Matt Georges and then Scandi’s own Lucas Nilsson, we continue this serie with Colorado’s finest: Zach Hooper.

Here’s his breakdown:

Matt Ladley, Lofty Back Tail

Buttermilk pipe – Aspen, CO

Camera – Canon EOS 1D MarkIII
Lens – Canon 24-105mm f/4 IS EF USM AF 
Film: They still make that stuff? ISO 100
Speed – 1/320e
Aperture – f8
Flash – Elinchrom Ranger ASYM RX Speed – 2 A Heads – Full Power

You can go to school to learn photography but they can’t give you the eye.

The Tech

I could sit here and try and talk like I know what the hell I am doing with all of this fancy equipment which compared to most pro’s isn’t that fancy. Instead I would like to tell you a little bit about the madness behind the lens known as Zach Hooper. I didn’t go to school for photography simply because my family couldn’t afford anything. They were able to afford pens and paper where I found myself becoming quite the artist. I grew up fascinated by all the surf, skate and snow mags. I always told myself I would be in those pages one day just never realized it would be as a photog not as an athlete. As fine art started to burn me out the old snow TM at Volcom (Jay Twitty) hooked me up with his Nikon film body to dork around with. This new medium to create art was so inspiring to me just the nick of time. My first pic that made it all seem worth while to do this as a hobbyist, was of pro skateboarder Rune Glifberg doing a Madonna to Body Jar in a vert bowl in Huntington Beach California. When I saw the developed image I was hooked. It is funny how life works out like that and I feel very blessed for all the opportunities that have presented themselves over the years. My head/eye has been programed from countless images studied over the past 30 years in action sports especially with skateboard and fashion photography. I am pretty sure I have exhausted my professors (Blotto, Zimmerman, Basher, Serfas, Bartle) with endless photography questions but I had to learn somehow. So when I show up to shoot nowadays, angles/exposures seem to just come together that much easier. Then I just try and put my artistic twist on it.

Photographers always seem to know so much more about the technicalities of photography than I do. They will be talking about this piece of equipment and all the math that goes into using it. I’m sitting here listening to them thinking, “I hate math.” I just move some buttons till shit looks good to me, ahaha. So don’t believe the hype about having the most expensive equipment or have gone to the best school, just focus on making do with what you have while most importantly making your subject/work look amazing and new. Some one once told me: you can go to school to learn photography but they can’t give you the eye.

The Context

As far as professional snowboarders go, working with Matt Ladley is a breeze. This young man is a workhorse and a skilled all around snowboarder. Consistency and effort are champion characteristics when you are trying to get the shot in a timely manner. You don’t want to wear out the subject due to whatever technical issues you might experience along the shoot. If your original idea isn’t working out for you, move on without haste. So with that being said I try and create a very relaxed stress-free environment when I shoot with the emphasis always being on having fun with it. You need to know when you have the shot. I know this sounds very obvious but you would be surprised how many times photogs will exhaust the shoot out of indecisiveness. Things can start to go very wrong at that point.

This shoot went a little like this; Matt and I showed up to Buttermilk one sunny morning in Aspen to find a pipe with wavy walls due to the ZAUGG bouncing along the wall during its cut. This sucks for shooting pipe for us because it limits where you can make the pipe look clean. The emphasis was to be on style not tech on Matt’s backside wall. I knew that the sun was going to be out in full effect behind my subject so I would want to fill Matt with flashes to make him pop. While Matt warmed it up with a couple laps, we chose a spot where I placed my lighting pack and dialed my exposure/composition. One flash head was above him on the deck and the other below. We did 5 exposures in less than 30 minutes and called it a day.


You can see more of Zach Hooper‘s work on his website, on  Instagram @zachhooperphoto.


Newsletter Terms & Conditions

Please enter your email so we can keep you updated with news, features and the latest offers. If you are not interested you can unsubscribe at any time. We will never sell your data and you'll only get messages from us and our partners whose products and services we think you'll enjoy.

Read our full Privacy Policy as well as Terms & Conditions.