Your approach is unique to the snowboard world, which typically lets the action lead while the photographers follow and do their best to document, but you seem to take the lead? Where do you get inspiration to approach photography this way?
I’m not a really good documtary photographer, it was never my thing. I love to look at good documtary pic, but I don’t like to make them. And I get bored sitting at a jump and shooting the next sequence, with the same settings on my camera. So it was obvious that I wanted to something different. I also do a lot of advertising and sometimes I do fashion, where everything is staged, and I started to like it. I like to have the control on my pics.
Where do these ideas come from?
From everywhere. I would say life with everything around. I’m always looking around for new things and new ideas. And I have great friends and the best wife by my side, who influences me a lot and kicks my ass.
Explain your thought process for these kinds of shoots? How much brainstorming, planning, etc, goes into your work?
Everything depends on and starts with the idea. So I do a lot of brainstorming and sketches, before begin anything. The second thing is the whole production, which is a lot of work. And at the end is the building and the shoot. Timewise that is the smallest part on those projects, but it takes a lot of work.
Who helps you with these? Who did the snow sculpting?
I’m always doings co-operations with the ski areas. Without their help is it impossible. The O’Neill sculpture we did in Davos and they helped us with everything. Without them it wouldn’t exist. This sculpture was made from a crew called Sculptura. Those guys are professional snowsculpture shaper, and are amazing. All my older projects, like the cube and the line, I made with help from friends.
How did the Jack O’Neill sculpture idea come about?
That was a wish from the client O’Neill. Jack is going to be 85. And this is tribute to him.
How long did it take to build this feature?
For the O’Neill sculpture we had 5 long days, to build it.
What was the biggest challenge?
It was a big challenge to find the idea. I had to co-operate with O’Neill, and we had to find a way to make it unique, but still be advertising. So there was some wishes from the client, which we had to work with. Another thing is, that it is always difficult to make the budgets. They are always really tight, and so that’s a challenge. And at the end is it always a big challenge to build it. That needs a lot of man-power and you never know if it’ll actually work out, like you imagined it.
How many flashes did you need to light it?
More than I thought. We flashed everything out with 6 Broncolor Graphit A4 generators with different heads, which have amazing power. The bigger problem was the size if it. To get the lights high enough we had to use a 20 meter crane.
Estimated cost of the whole production for the O’Neill one?
I’m Swiss and so I’m not one to speak about money…It cost a lot of money and it needed a lot of enthusiasm from everybody involved in it, otherwise it would be not possible or the budget would rise into the sky.
With these labor-intensive productions do you ever question if it’s all worth it? Is all the hard work worth the images you get?
Yes, yes and yes. There is no better feeling than standing in front of a huge thing, being done shooting and holding a beer in your hands—totally tired and leached out—but knowing you got what you want. I do all this for these moments.
Which photographers do you really admire?
There are so many. I’m a picture-nerd, and I love to see good stuff. In any photography category are amazing guys, who make great pics. I can’t say names, there would be too many and I would forget some. I’m really into guys who break boundaries and who invent themselves.
What advice do you have for aspiring snowboard photographers?
Learn to photograph and not only to photograph snowboarding.