This One Time At Photo Camp
By Chris Coyle

One of the nice parts about being on the TransWorld crew is that you get invited to all types of stuff you wouldn’t normally attend. A lot of the time it’s calls like, “Hey bro, would you like to come do a article on our snollerbike tour? It’s gonna be soooo epic.” But every once and a while, something good pops up. Such was the case with High Cascade Snowboard Camp’s new photo workshop at Mt. Hood. The idea was to put on a three-day program with The Brooks Institute where people could learn to take snowboard photos from the world’s best. “The best?” I asked. “Who ya bringing in?” “Embry Rucker, Jon Foster, Kevin Zacher, and of course, Trevor Graves,” answered Angela Jolly, High Cascade’s head honcho. “DAMN!” I thought, “I’m there.”

Let me start off by explaining that I didn’t know an F-stop from F-Troop going into this deal. Everything I knew about cameras was learned from years of trying to be on the other side of one during my half-assed attempt to be a pro stunt monkey. So when I showed up at the tail end of the aperture clinic, it was like walking into a quantum physics lecture. “When you’re shooting 1,000 at six-niner, make sure your focal length is equal to your lenses times 7.2,” Trevor was announcing to the room. Well, maybe that’s not exactly what he said … truth been known, I have no idea what he was saying. I was lost.

As the students scrambled to take notes, the diversity of the crowd hit me. From what looked like seventeen-year-old girls to men in their late 30s-all with eyes glued forward. Once the clinic was over, the campers were split into different groups based on what they wanted to learn. Each group got instruction from different photographers over the course of the three days.

The next morning I hopped in with Rucker’s group. Mt. Hood Meadows was holding its annual Vegetate contest, so we headed over to get some pics of people twirling in the half tube. The camp also brought in a couple of ringers just in case the talent at the contest was sub par-Corey Smith, Ami Voutilainen, and Ahmon Stamps were all on call. That’s not to mention some guest appearances by Josh Dirksen and Roberta Rodger.

For those of you who don’t know Embry, he’s a real wiseass-that’s why I couldn’t wait to see what he was going to tell these guys. To my surprise there was no question too small for “The Ruckus.” He took the time to answer every inquiry, work through every lighting problem-the whole nine yards. Heck, students even got to take turns using his equipment at times. That is, when he wasn’t text messaging his girlfriend and giggling.

After a botched attempt at a roof jib and some dinner, the crew headed back to the lodge to take a look at the day’s photos. The Brooks Institute sent some interns whose sole purpose was to grab everyone’s film and get it developed and back in time for the instructor to do a nightly critique. Soon as that finished up, the crowd was treated to a clinic that Foster put together on how to get photos published in magazines. If anyone knows how to do that, it’s him. Over the past fifteen years, more published snowboard photos have had his name in the corner than just about anybody out there. He’s also the editor in chief and director of photography of this here magazine you’re reading.I spent the second day on hill with Zacher’s posse.

Lucky for us, the weather broke and made it a lot easier to get some good photos. Once again I was blown away by the fact that no question went unanswered. When the day wound down, everyone headed into a portrait clinic. Being the handsome man that I am, most agreed that all modeling should be handled by me. Somehow I got talked into wearing nothing but an inner tube. It was awful-it reminded me of that year I did in the joint.

It was apparent to me by the end of the workshop that the reason all these folks were learning so much so fast was the instructors’ teaching styles. The fact that thhey were teaching from experience and not from books made all the difference in the world. It reminded me of what Zach Reynolds, Powder magazine’s assistant photo editor, said when asked what the hell he was doing at a photo camp.

“Anytime you get to work with legends, you’re going to learn.” And learn they did. The group that attended the clinic that weekend captured all the photos in this article. Notice that not one has my name on it. Maybe I needed to compose my aperture more or somethin’.

For more information on the High Cascade Photo Workshop, visit the Web site at: hcscphotoworkshop.com.