Chris Brunkhart is a photographer from the Northwest who spent snowboarding’s golden years documenting our culture. As the young “sport” exploded, Brunkhart traveled the world on assignment for the mags and shot with the legends like Craig Kelly and Jamie Lynn. In those days—the 90s—Brunkhart’s images could be seen all over. There were lots of black and whites, enigmatic riders in far-flung locations and stormy days at Baker. And now, with the release of his forthcoming, self-published book How Many Dreams In The Dark? The Photography Of Chris Brunkhart we’ll be transported back in time. We got Brunkhart on the phone to answer a few questions about this book and the conversation rambled a bit about his process, the legends, and the old days.
This first shot it’s Craig Kelly?
Yeah, these are the kinds of photos I like to take—environmental portraits—catching people at ease, in their surroundings. This was near Concepcion, Chile. We were on a snowboard tour, but we spent a lot of time on the beach. There were groups of fishermen using horses to pull in their boats. We just kinda sat there and watched—we were gonna surf. I think it was ’97, ’98.
Keeping track of stuff like the dates must be tough?
Yeah. I went through—I estimate—forty thousand slides and negatives and stuff. None of it is digital. It’s all old school: Kodachromes, Ilford film. I whittled it down to twelve hundred to chose from for the book and in the end its about 220-230 photos.
That’s quite an editing job.
Well, I’ve been at it awhile. I’ve been working on it since last April. I thought I was gonna be done sooner. Silly me.
Did you shoot a lot with Craig?
Actually my first snowboarding photo that ran in a big magazine was a shot of Craig in TransWorld. It was 1990/1991—the contents page. I just happened to be at the right place at the right time. Craig was going off this hip at the Westbeach Classic … but I didn’t really shoot with him until like 5 or 6 years later. I really grew up with Matt Donahue, Jamie Lynn, Jeff Fulton, Mike Estes … Hood and Mount Baker was my home turf. I would split my time between those places. Jamie I’ve known since he was a sophomore in high school, pretty much took him on his first road trips … Donahue, too. Seeing them come up riding and watching them get better and better. I remember not understanding why magazines wouldn’t run photos of ‘em at first … but they caught on eventually.