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Behind the Lens: Erin Hogue On What It Takes to Get The Shot

Too often those behind the camera don't get enough credit for their hard work and dedication to getting the shot. While riders in front of the lens are trying their best to stomp a trick with style, those working the camera are paying close attention to angles, lighting and a slew of other factors to line up and perfectly illuminate the setting.

Erin Hogue has steadily become a fixture within action sports photography and spends her seasons chasing snow with a mix of notable film crews. She's shot with Absinthe, The Man Boys, Shred Bots, Full Moon, and a huge crew of others and consistently gets the shot. Her days are long, sometimes dangerous, but fully rewarding. This season, Erin was also on scene and helped with the rescue mission of Mark McMorris in the Canadian backcountry. This, coupled with numerous other experiences in the backcountry, have helped her to become a well-rounded and sought after photog that produces award-winning imagery of all kinds.

We recently caught up with Erin in-between shoots, for a glimpse into what goes into capturing action, insights into some of the gnarlier situations she’s found herself in, and what keeps her stoked, frame after frame. Check out the gallery of some of her selects above and read on for the interview.

Where are you from?
I was born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa but grew up in Ontario, Canada.

How long have you been snowboarding?
Wow. Over 20 years now I guess.

You currently live in Whistler, how long have you lived there?
On and off for seven years.

When/How did you first take up photography? 
As a kid I was always taking photos and creating art from old photos from magazines. It wasn't until high school when I played around into the darkroom and started developing and printing my own photos that I really got into it.

How long have you been shooting snowboarding?
I started shooting snowboarding five or six years ago.

What is your camera set-up like?
I shoot with a Canon 5D Mark iii and Canon 1DX. And for lenses, I have a 70-200mm, Sigma 50mm 1.4f, Canon 14mm 2.8f, Canon 17-40mm, Canon 24-70mm.
You’ve worked your ass off and have become a leading ski and snowboard photographer. What do you consider some of your breakout moments?
I feel so lucky to be a part of this amazing industry and I honestly get stoked going out with a new crew and any ime I shoot, but I've definitely had my fair share of "holy s***, this is awesome" moments. Getting my first magazine cover was rad and heli'ing in Alaska with Absinthe and Nicolas Mueller last spring was completely surreal. I was also blown away to be one of six finalists in X-Games ZOOM contest this year, particularly as I was competing against the best action sports photographers in the world. Now, I'm so honored to be a category finalist in Red Bull's Illume contest, it's always cool to be recognized in a non-snow-specific photography contest like Illume and ZOOM.

You released your own web series this year, “Getting the Shot”, which is an exclusive look into what goes into capturing some of your insane imagery. What was it like to make this series, and which episodes are your favorite, why?
It was a lot harder than I thought it would be. I wanted to create the series to show what goes into the photos, especially for people who haven't been in the backcountry. If you don't have a frame of reference for the photos, they don’t speak to you in the same way. The aim of the series is to give people context. By providing the story of what went into each image the viewer will understand the photos on another level. Everyday is different and everyday ridiculous obstacles come up. Being able to get to the locations, finding shootable features and getting to the right angle to do that feature justice and make it look picturesque is a lot on its own ,then add filming and planning out an episode on top of that…it was crazy. So many things have had to fall into place in order to make the series possible.
As for my favorite episodes…those haven't been released yet so you'll have to wait and see.

Let’s talk about this season, who have you primarily been shooting with?
This season, I have been super lucky and have been able to shoot with a lot of different crews. I started out with The Man Boys, Eric Jackson, Victor De La Rue and Charles Reid. Then did some days with DCP, Benji Ritchie, Ryan Tiene and JP Solberg. Then was with Mikey Rencz, Zak Hale, Saga, and Nils. Snuck a day in with Brisse. Then went to Revi to meet up with Absinthe and shoot with Nicolas Mulleur, Mikkal Bang, Kimmy Fasani, Austen Sweetin and Hans. Came back to Whislter and shot with Craig and Mark McMorris, Torstein, Anto Chamberlain and Wernie. Followed that by going to the Holy Bowly with Jamie Anderson, MFR and Leanne Pelosi. Now, I am shooting on Whistler Blackcomb with Elias and J Rob.

Garrett Warnick, Haines AK.

What locations has your crew been getting into?
Last month, we left Pemberton at 4:30am and it took us three hours to get to an insane zone. We rolled up to Alaska looking spines as the sun was still rising. It was amazing. Then, a few weeks ago with the Shredbots we sledded almost two hours to a zone that was first described to me as 'super gnarly access'. The first two photographers we brought out there almost didn't make it home; one broke his hand and another sledded full pin directly into a massive snow wall, both now refuse to go back.

What are some the hardest parts of getting into these zones?
Massive tracked out side hills where if you mess up your sled basically falls into oblivion (i.e. off a cliff, into a massive hole/crevasse or into some steep thick trees.)

Craig and Mark McMorris

You were recently on the scene and involved with Mark McMorris's rescue. What was that experience like?
Intense and surreal.

It was one of those situations where all of the first aid training and safety gear you have becomes invaluable, in a way that I can't vouch for enough. When you go out into the backcountry, it is just you and your crew. No 911, no ambulances, no EMS,; your life is literally in the hands of the people you are with. That day started out like every other, but turned potentially tragic in a matter of seconds. Luckily, we were all on it. Craig had a stat phone and instantly called the heli. The rest was a seemingly endless process of remaining calm, focusing on the positive and reminding Mark to breath, which was not an easy task with all the internal damage he had.

Overall, I cannot express enough the importance of basic first aid training and safety gear. If you don't have a thermal blanket, get one…or seven. Without these, this situation likely would have had a different outcome. It definitely made me value, appreciate and respect every day that I get out there.

Kimmy Fasani, Whistler Backcountry

What’s the most rewarding part of your job? And what’s the toughest aspect of it?
Being able to go out into these insane locations and bring something back to show to others is rad. They say that in order to protect and value something you have to have a connection to it— If my images can inspire people to get out there and experience these amazing places for themselves, then that is the best part.

The hardest aspects about this type of photography truly adds to its beauty; it's a double-edged sword. The early mornings, long days, waiting for light, searching for good snow and landings, the physical demands of sledding and hiking with a 45lbs pack, freezing cold conditions and inherent dangers are essential obstacles to producing these images. So, when all of these challenges are met and everything comes together, the obstacles and the process of overcoming them result in insane stories that add a unique depth to the images.

One thing you always have in your camera bag?
My passport
A thermal blanket
A thermos of Matcha green tea

Fullmoon Rutherford, BC.

What are your plans for the rest of the season?
The conditions in Whistler are still awesome, so I'm going to stay here and shoot then hopefully end the season with a fun trip to Sunshine Village in Banff for a park jump shoot with Spencer O'Brien, Anna Gasser, Yuka, Enni and some more of the contest ladies.

Off-season plans, where can we catch you?
This summer, I am going to be on Vancouver Island for a bit then back to Whistler to shoot some paragliding and base-jumping. Then I'll be getting my motorcycle license before heading down to High Cascade Snowboard Camp. After that, I'll be heading to a beach somewhere to shoot some surfing.

Eero Niemela, Interior B.C.

Anything else?
If you want to get into photography yourself, High Cascade Snowboard Camp has an amazing Photo Work Shop where myself and a crew of snowboarding's best photogs give away all of our secrets.

For more info msg me: @erinhogue

And if you want to vote for People's Choice in Redbull Illume's photo contest check the link below: https://goo.gl/mcDA0q

Check out more photo features here.