There is no doubt that the when it comes to the hierarchy of snowboard photos, the cover reins supreme. Many photographers spend their entire career chasing them. The list of required ingredients is exhausting–good action, dialed lighting, a strong landscape, and a mastery of photography’s technical skills are only a fraction of what it takes to bag the elusive front page. That’s why here at TransWorld SNOWboarding we celebrate them–because in a world over-saturated by Instagram shots and the like, that singular image that rises above the rest deserves its recognition.
Here, on the cover of TransWorld SNOWboarding’s 2018 October Issue, we see one of those images. Action? Check. Lighting? Check. Landscape, composition, and the rest? Check, check, check. Not only is this image of Kazuhiro Kokubo breathtaking in and of itself, but there is a story behind the image that once known only further elevates our appreciation. For one, this image taken by TransWorld SNOWboarding’s Senior Photographer, Darcy Bacha, is the first cover he has ever snagged with this publication–and he’s been punching out top-shelf photos for years. Furthermore, location matters and this shot was taken on snowboarding’s mecca, Mt. Hood. Bagging a cover on such an easily recognizable slope is a rarity and the approach he took to create such a snap is noteworthy. Together, these many reasons spurred us to unearth the story below for you, our readers.
Continue below to dive below the surface of the cover of the most recent October Issue with TransWorld SNOWboarding Senior Photographer, Darcy Bacha, before picking up a copy of the magazine for yourself. If the magazine has not yet arrived on your doorstep, we recommend you hurriedly make your way to the nearest newsstand, before renewing your subscription, here. Once said reading material has been both acquired and consumed, we further recommend you brush up on Kazuhiro Kokubo’s signature film, Kamikazu by watching the official trailer, here, and RSVPing for the premiere tour stop coming to a city near you soon, here. We promise, you won’t regret it.
Where was this photo taken?
It was taken in the Oregon backcountry on the backside of Mt. Hood. I found this zone back in 2011. Sammy Carlson and I had poked around this area because we knew it had a lot of opportunities for building massive features. It has all of these rolling hills that allow you to shape whatever you could possibly want. This area is also famous for getting the absolute last light of the day, so I knew that we might be able to get an awesome sunset shot.
Who was in your crew?
Obviously, Kazu was there—I had told him about this spot and he loves coming out to Mt. Hood. He actually hit me up a month prior to see if I would be around to shoot on the glacier, and then literally the next day, Theo Muse, the director of The Future of Yesterday, hit me up and mentioned that he would be at Mt. Hood during the same time with the Beyond Medals crew. I talked to Kazu and he was down to collaborate because those jump builds are so massive that having a huge crew is actually a huge advantage.
What was the build like?
We all met up and hiked out to this area because you can't take snowmobiles up there. There are so many options that everyone had their own ideas on where we would build. Even Kazu rode by that one spot where we ended up building the jump. An hour into looking, The Future of Yesterday guys and I were still shopping around for spots. Kazu and the boys from Japan had started working on this jump while we were messing around in a different area. After a bit, we decided to go check out how they were making out with their build. When we got there they were already a quarter of the way completed. So everyone jumped in to help instead of just kicking snow around like we had been doing. We built the whole thing in five hours—which was super fast considering how big it was. We hadn't even finished shaping it when Kohei hiked up and dropped in. We hadn't even really shaped it yet and he still got a pretty massive air off this jump that was mostly just blocks.
Were you expecting to hit it that night?
No. Usually, the way builds work—especially the super big jumps—is we take a full day shaping and you shoot the next day. But because Kohei had gotten good air off the unfinished jump we immediately knew it was going to work and we realized that we might even be able to hit it that evening. We were nearly done and the jump was only roughly shaped, but the sun was already beginning to set and there was a sea of clouds in the valley that got me really excited about its potential. I kept pressing for Kohei or someone to try it out again now that it was nearly done. Everyone was exhausted from a full day of hiking and shoveling and nobody was feeling motivated. No one was thinking that a session was about to go down. But then Kohei dropped in again and blasts a crazy huge air.
But the jump wasn't even finished?
There was a weird kink in it, and it was obvious that a pretty huge section would need to be dug out. We knew that it was going to work out the next day, but I couldn't help but think that we might not get the epic sea of clouds below us if we had to come back. Everyone started chipping away at this little wall that we needed to dig out, and as soon as the sun started to set and we saw all of the colors that were happening the entire crew hit the turbo button and we got it done real quick. We got about an hour's worth of work done in twenty minutes.
Is that when you knew the session was on?
Kind of—the boys started hitting it but Kazu was chilling. Sometimes on sessions he will observe for a while before he really gets into it. He went up and did it once and did an air to fakie to feel it out and washed out on the landing. But at this point the light is pretty much gone, so the next hit he goes up and hiked a little higher to get more speed and he comes down and blasts this massive air. It was one of those moments in snowboarding where no one could believe what they saw. It took a second for everyone to realize what had just happened, the fact that he got that air and was able to ride away in what was basically a mogul field was incredible. After that, he just chilled, so the Beyond Medals boys got in there and got there session in.
What was the snow like?
The landing was awful. We knew from the start we would have to completely reshape the landing for the next day because it certainly isn't powder up there. As soon as the sun starts going down it gets really firm, really quick. That's why it was even more of a miracle when he rode out. We ended up fixing the landing the next day, but we had to spend another three hours to make the jump perfect. He got this air when it was far from perfect.
Is there anything else interesting about that zone viewers should know?
Well, because of the incredible light we do our sessions there in the evening. But what a lot of people don't know is that you need to hike out after the session. And it is usually about an hour or more to get out of that spot. Everyone is always worn down, but especially so for this cover shot. After we finally wrapped for the day we hiked out in the dark with headlamps.