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.
This week in Bag Check we connect with Justin Hare, the principle lensman behind this season’s highly-anticipated film, Kamikazu. The list of snowboard videographers and film directors that have been in the game as long as Justin is short. Originally hailing from the Green Mountain State, Justin got his start filming snowboarding as a kid with his parent’s VHS recorder, before moving to Tahoe out of high school and ultimately landing a role with Robot Food for the cult-classic film, Lame. In recent years Justin has partnered with Kazu for his part in Union’s, STRONGER., as well as this publication’s, Origins, among others.Today, Justin calls the great Pacific Northwest state of Washington home when he’s not deep in the mountains with Kazu and crew. The backcountry is a fickle place. Lugging tens of thousands of dollars in equipment through its inherently inclement conditions, often with small weather windows during which to log a clip, while heli time perpetually ticks away is a stressful scenario. Justin is calm and comfortable in these situations, and his perceptive personality allows him to connect well with the riders he works with. His skill set is a rarity. It’s no surprise that he was Kazu’s first choice to film his upcoming release. Keep your eyes peeled for the official Kamikazu trailer dropping soon, and make sure to check out the list of Cold Front Tour premiere dates for your chance to see the film in its entirety on the big screen.
How long have you been shooting for, and how did you get involved with shooting snowboarding?
At first, bringing a camera along was a way for my brothers and I to try to capture what we were feeling on the mountain and mimic what we were seeing in the snow films we loved. By the time I graduated high school I knew that I wanted to give the ski bum lifestyle a go, and I brought my camera with me. A summer dishwashing job at Windell's and some encouragement from Chris Engelsman and Cory Smith led to getting picked up by Robot Food and making the jump to shooting 16mm film.
Which photos/videos that you saw inspired you to become a videographer?
The first snowboarding I saw on screen was probably in a Warren Miller film, or maybe an old Burton flick. Some of the first videos I bought on VHS were Stomping Grounds, The Garden, TB4 and some early TWS offerings.
List and describe what camera & other gear is featured in the overview image.
- Arriflex 16S: Trusty old 16mm rig with a Zeiss 10-100 zoom. All mechanical with a beautiful, grainy viewfinder. The click of the trigger and then listening to the film roll through it is awesome. Those cameras used to be the go-to for snowboard filming. We'd go half a season without reviewing any footage!
- Red Epic: I find that Red's equipment works really well for what we do in the mountains. Any gear that brings me one step closer to capturing the raw essence of snowboarding has a place in my bag.
- Canon 100-400 II: This lens is a game changer for backcountry shooting. Works great for surf too, and with a 1.4x extender, you've got a serious range.
- GoPro and gimbal: After spending lots of time covering the same subject you realize that certain angles become redundant. The follow cam is a nice way to change perspective. Adding movement to an image sequence can really liven things up. The risk of blowing a shot goes up when following so there's a trade-off, but when you nail one, it's magic. Just watch anything by the Ski Chef!
- f-Stop Shinn with the master – cine ICU: This bag has taken a beating. It got blown off a mountain in Haines by heli rotor-wash and survived with only a few dings! People say it looks huge, but it honestly doesn't feel too big when it's on as long as you don't overload it for what you can realistically handle. I love being able to have my camera ready to go right out of the bag because it helps capture key moments.
What's your go-to setup?
Red Epic with Canon glass for the most part.
Anything you are looking to add to the collection?
A sherpa or two to help carry the load.
What’s one piece of gear (apart from camera gear and avalanche gear) that you couldn’t live without in your pack?
A pair of Verts (snowshoes) are really helpful for scouting angles in deep snow.
Why do you carry that selection of lenses to shoot snowboarding?
I feel like a range of lenses that cover anywhere from 15mm – 600mm will allow you to make the most of whatever comes your way in the backcountry.
What are your most exciting environments to shoot in?
Probably what gets me fired up the most is when raw talent meets new terrain or epic snow conditions. Throw some magic light in there and it's time to push, pan, pull. The holy freakin' trinity.
What environments are toughest on your gear?
Have you ever tried to change lenses in a blizzard?
How do you protect gear from these elements?
I try to choose gear that can take a beating so I don't have to baby it in the mountains. If I'm worried about it failing due to moisture I insure it. You can only fight off the elements for so long if you're out there in it all day.
Any packing rituals the night before a big shoot?
Before any shoot or trip, I go through a mental checklist of gear and try to find my passport.
Flash vs. Natural Light
Natural light always, bud.
Any favorite people to shoot with? Why?
In snowboarding, or surfing my favorite people to shoot with are usually the ones trying to find good conditions without the crowd. I try to line up with the powder recluses because that puts me in the zones that I most enjoy snowboarding in.
What projects have you been working on this past season?
The past few years I've been teamed up with Kazu, helping to create his video parts.
What's your favorite TransWorld cover of all time?
The Jamie Lynn euro road gap cover is one that sticks to my mind.
Style is important in both riding and photography. Tell us how you identify your own personal style with photography.
Recently I've found myself in more and more of directors role, but I always try to leave space for riders to express themselves and then try to help guide and facilitate that. I suppose my style leans towards documentary in many cases because I'm most interested in moments where experiences feel pure. They mean more to me when they happen organically.
What influences your approach in photography?
There are many ways to tell a story just like there are many ways to ride a mountain. I like trying to find the lines with a natural flow so you don't have to work too hard to gain momentum.
What’s the best line or trick you’ve nailed with your camera pack on?
Falling over with a 60lb pack on is not recommended because it's hard to get back up.
Who are some of your favorite photographers / filmers?
The amount of rad, inspiring stuff happening out there at any given moment these days is numbing, but I'd say that anyone getting after it and having fun is my favorite.
What's your Instagram/ handle and website?
@jdhfilms and JDH Films on Vimeo, thanks for checking out my work!