How to Shoot Snowboarding

Behind The Shot : Matt Georges vs Alvaro Vogel

When it comes to explain how snowboard photography works, Matt Georges is always the first one to come and share his knowledge. Props to him for that, because snowboard photography is no different from other types of photography: nowadays everybody is a filmer/shooter/action hero. Thanks to the crazy combo: social networks, GoPros, smartphones and compact cameras. This is exactly why a little bit of professional insight on how things works, and also what works at the moment, won’t be bad…

Alvaro Vogel, Slash, Hintertux, Austria

Face shots are so hot right now!

Camera: EOS 1D Mark IV
Lens: 24-70mm – 2.8
ISO: 200
Aperture: f/10
Speed: 1/800

The Tech

Trends are mysteriously in some sort of a circles and always come back at some point. When I was younger, for years I have hated this logger shirt from my dad, but then I saw Kurt Cobain and other guys wearing one and that was it, the shirt was back on track again. Who knows maybe the elephant pants will come back one day. Anyway, this is sometimes the same in snowboarding photography. Getting as close as we can in a powder spray in nothing new but somehow always refreshing! Got it? Cold powder in your face = refreshing etc. Great joke, right?!
First of all it’s important to discuss with the rider about the right spot to slash. Most of the time it looks nicer from below but when you are on top you see things differently and terrain is not always how we would have imagined.

So when shooting inside the barrel it’s crucial to have a good communication otherwise the rider might miss the good spot to slash or/and end up cutting your face in few pieces. The focus point is also a bit tricky because you need to imagine his move and way out. Obviously the best moment will be couple meters after he slashed the pow, when snow is all over his head (and yours too for now) so you don’t want to miss this. A fraction of a second later, this moment will be gone and both face and lens will be covered with snow, so it could be good to have a protection on your camera like a plastic bag or shower cap from hotel rooms, specially when the snow is very wet! The rider will be kind of sorry but really happy at the same time to have sprayed your little shithead. You still can’t really see for now if you got the shot because you feel concerned about your camera, so first it’s good to clean it out quickly and eventually check the photo on your screen later, unless you still live in the 90’s and still shoot on films. That was my second joke, got it too? Yeah shooting films! Who shoot film nowadays? This trend will never come back! Or?

So on this particular photo I wanted him to get out of his cloud and come back straight to me like a surfer coming back and waiting to get barreled. However this doesn’t 100% work from my opinion here as there is one thing missing that I always like to see in powder shot: the snowboard.

The Context

We were roadtripping accross Europe Glaciers with a campervan early october in 2012 and decided to head towards Hintertux Glacier in Austria to warm up our leggs (and fingers for me). Summer was still here, we had a nice barbecue and a little skate session. Clouds looked like some sort of Lord of The Ring shit by the time we went to bed. When we wake up the day after it was almost a meter fresh and no one was ready yet for real winter! We had summer tires and were sleeping on the top parking lot, but this issue will be fixed later in the day. In case of fresh snow on a glacier your heart always balance and as we say in French: “on a le cul entre deux chaises”, which means literally that our ass is sitting in between two chairs. Not talking at all about any chairlift, which wouldn’t make much sense here, but more about riding fresh powder on a glacier full of crevasses. You obviously don’t want to go too much off slope and end up in an ice cave full of frozen mammoths. Alvaro is slashing here the side of a Super Giant slope where no one was heading this day. We got infinite fresh powder, could get the speed from the groomed pist and of course stayed safe upthere far from any frozen creatures.

Check Matt’s website. And if you want to see the previous ‘Behind The Shot’ articles, here’s the tag.


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