Bag Check is an all-new TransWorld SNOWboarding series dedicated to the many photographers and videographers we work with on a daily basis to bring you the premier snowboarding media that you have come to know and love. Each week we will be showcasing a different contributor by taking a look under the hood of their camera bag to see what each of them rely on in the field, before diving a bit further and tapping their brains about what it takes to create the work we celebrate. Make sure to check back next week for another installment of Bag Check with today’s leading photographers and videographers. In our second installment of Bag Check, we catch up with TransWorld SNOWboarding’s Senior Photographer, Darcy Bacha.
How long have you been shooting for, and how did you get involved with shooting snowboarding?
I picked up my first Camera when I was about 13 or 14, and I'm 30 now. I had a dark room in my school and spent my time shooting photos of my buddy's skateboarding and learning to develop them at school. It wasn't until I moved from Philadelphia to Oregon though that I really got into shooting photos of snowboarding. I think just being around such incredible talent here in Oregon and being able to shoot photos at Camps like Windells and HCSC really pushed my creativity.
Which photos/videos that you saw inspired you to become a photographer?
When I first started snowboarding I got my hands on a video called TB 9 (Totally Board 9) it was the first time I saw what snowboarding could be. I must have watched that movie a hundred times. I still have songs on my Spotify playlist from it that get me fired up! As far as real inspiration goes for photography, I think looking at skateboarding magazines and being super inspired by all the cool lighting photographers like Atiba Jefferson were doing at the time. And then I saw Zimmerman doing similar stuff in the snowboarding world and I thought that was the coolest shit ever. It was kind of at that moment that I realized the direction of photography I wanted to go.
Describe what gear you rely on day in and day out.
- Nikon D850
- Nikon D4
- Nikon 24-70 f/2.8E
- Nikon 70-200 f/2.8E
- Nikon 300 f/4E
- Nikon 8-15 f/3.5-4.5
- Mavic Pro Platinum
- F-Stop Tilopia backpack
- Tracker III
- Elinchrom Quadra 400
- Elinchrom ELB 1200
- plus HS transmitter
- Skidoo Summit 850 , 165 track
- Toyota Tundra
What's your go-to setup?
Nikon D850 with 70-200 f/2.8E. I think I use that for about 80% of my photography.
Anything you are looking to add to the collection?
I just updated a ton of my equipment, but maybe some primes, the 300 f/2.8, and the 58 f/1.4. As soon as the New Mavic Pro II comes out I'd be stoked to pick up one of those. I've been having a lot of fun shooting photos with the drone. Unfortunately, a lot of other equipment that's not as fun needs to be updated before that. Computer, sled deck, paying off my truck, sled, and other loans.
What’s one piece of gear (apart from camera and avalanche gear) that you couldn’t live without in your pack?
Well, probably sunscreen. I'm a ginger so when the sun comes out I have to be ready!
Why do you carry that selection of lenses to shoot snowboarding?
Every lens serves a purpose in my pack. I like the f/2.8's for there sharpness and incredible depth of field, and I love the 300mm f/4 because it's the lightest 300mm ever made. It’s important to me not to sacrifice quality for having a lighter backpack though. With that said, I've gone through a lot of backpacks in my career, and the best ones are the ones that are built more like backpacking packs and less like camera packs. Having comfortable straps and pads makes a huge difference when lugging 30lb's of gear.
What are your most exciting environments to shoot in?
One that is totally new to me. I think being inspired by new locations around the world makes for my best imagery, going to the same spots all the time makes it harder to get motivated to create.
What environments are toughest on your gear?
I think when it’s snowing hard and right around freezing.
How do you protect gear from these elements?
I usually keep my gear in zip bags so that wet snow doesn't saturate them every time I open up the back up my backpack. I also have a poncho that I use to protect my camera and lens that I'm shooting with.
Any packing rituals the night before a big shoot?
I usually start a big shoot by completely emptying my backpack and repacking. That way I know exactly where everything is, and if there's any unnecessary gear taking up room and adding weight I can get rid of it.
Flash vs. Natural Light
They both serve their purpose for sure. I love flash because it gives me a ton of creativity. Completely transforming a scene in front of you and creating shape with light. Natural light is so organic and beautiful. I find myself shooting way more natural light these days, the main reason is that if you know how to use it, it’s incredible, but also because it makes setting up so fast. I feel like the time spent setting up lights often takes away from really cool natural moments that occur for only a second before they're gone.
Any favorite people to shoot with? Why?
Well, there's a ton, but I love shooting with Cizsek and EJack because they like to go fly fishing for steelhead as much as they like to go snowboarding. We have a pretty good thing going when we're hanging out.
What projects have you been working on this past season?
Last winter I started off shooting with Victor Daviet, Victor de Le Rue, and Thomas Delfino. We didn't really have a project set in stone at the time, so we just grouped up and went shredding together in Italy and France for a month. After that, I started shooting for Kamikazu, and Eric Jackson’s dream project Alignment. Alignment was a true passion project where we spent a bunch of time up in the Skeena valley (Northern British Columbia) learning new mountains to snowboard on and new rivers to catch steelhead in.
First cover shot/ favorite cover shot?
The first cover shot I think was for a Japanese magazine called Freerun, It was my buddy Matt Guess up at Timberline on Mt.Hood tapping a tree with Mt.Jefferson in the background. My favorite cover, however, was a photo of Sammy Carlson hitting a jump at the base of Illumination rock on Mt.Hood. It was Powder Magazine’s first ever fold-out Photo Annual cover, and might be the best photo I'll ever shoot.
What's your favorite TransWorld cover of all time?
There's a cover from a couple years back that Maxim Balakhovskii shot of Gigi Ruf doing a method on an Iceberg in Greenland. Without a snowboarder in that photo, it would have been an amazing photo, but ad Gigi's timeless style and you have one of the greatest snowboarding photos ever shot.
Style is important in both riding and photography. Tell us how you identify your own personal style with photography.
I think personally I love showing layers and creating depth to my shots without over cluttering them. I also love making collections. Telling a story not just with one image, but with a group has been really fun. At the end of every season, I put together a slideshow kind of illustrating my adventure through the winter.
What influences your approach to photography?
The environment really influences me. I think a lot of time there's really no direction in what we're shooting in the mountains, but its dictated by the terrain and conditions presented to us.
What’s the best line or trick you’ve nailed with your camera pack on?
Oh man, I gotta dig deep for that one! There have definitely been some lines up in Revelstoke and Alaska that I had to ride behind the pro boarders after shooting on slope. I can't say I ride them quite as fast, but I make it down!