Blotto is a legend when it comes to snowboard photography. He’s been in the game for a long, long time and has seen it all. He’s seen the rise of digital photography, the rise of giant clothing, and the rise of triple corks. We figured it was a no brainer to pick his brain about snowboarding and photography, so we did.
Where did you grow up snowboarding and shooting photos?
My home shred mountain is called Snowbowl, located in Flagstaff, Arizona. Funny enough, that's where I still do most of my 'shred days' without the backpack. I picked up a camera while working with Technine in Colorado/Utah during the mid-nineties.
You’ve been shooting professional snowboarding for a long time, when did you "start" shooting professionally?
While working for Technine, Ethan Fortier and I picked up a computer and a Canon EOS 530 SLR and taught ourselves everything by trial and error…this must have been around 1994/1995.
Who were your first crew of riders that you shot?
Marc Frank, Travis Parker, Ali Goulet, Shane Charlebois, Wes Makepeace
You've seen plenty of the trends that go on within snowboarding. Looking back at it now, what do you think some of the funniest things that people were doing?
Its gotta be the giant snow pants of all varieties…Big Jean Fantasy baby!
When you first started out you were shooting you shot with film, do you ever shoot film anymore?
The early days of recording analog metadata on how you captured each image I'll never forget, these were completely trail and error methods, lots of bracketing and writing notes on your slide sheets to know how to better shoot any given film the next time around.
Kevin Zacher (former TWS Senior Photographer) really helped me out in answering even the smallest questions I had about different film types through the early years, and more importantly how to process each roll. I hung onto these notes from the past, along with the newer notes right up until I stopped shooting film all together, it's great to look back upon.
The camera I miss shooting most is the Hasselblad 203FE, running most of my shot film through the DR5 process…as Jeff Curtes always said: "the glory years." So no, I don't shoot film any longer; my workflow is one hundred percent digital.
What's your favorite type of environment to shoot in?
This would be a three-pronged answer seeing how I find equal enjoyment working on the mountains, in the streets and at the park. All three areas offer such unique opportunities with the type of snowboarding happening. It would be tough to choose one if I had to…I hope this never happens!
Does the gnarly winter grind ever wear on you? What do you do to stay sane?
The winter grind is manageable if the missions are working out and you combine that with some quality days off in between trips and get a few powder days in. Sanity is possible because I work with such a talented and motivated crew at Burton, all the way from riders to managers to product peeps. It's a blessing getting to work alongside so many good people.
You shoot all aspects of snowboarding, from backcountry, to street rails, to catalogs. How do you prepare for the different types of tricks? Anything you do differently for one type of trip that you wouldn't do for another?
The type of environment you plan on entering dictates the type of equipment, along with how much gear you pack in.
The streets are awesome in the fact that you can bring every single gadget you'd like because you have a car to carry it right to the spot with. The backcountry is rad too because I tend to use a single body and a couple of lenses…simple. Park is actually the biggest pain in the neck due to the fact you're hauling up two or three bags of big strobes along with your camera bag…on a snowmobile, then the snowcat, up the tram then down a dirt road in the back of a truck!! J
What type of camera do you shoot with? What's your go to set up?
A Digital Single Lens Reflex camera handles just about every action photo I shoot, with some sort of Point and Shoot, Micro 4:3 or smaller DSLR for a run-around-get-beat-up image taker. My flash game is a hodge-podge consisting of strobes and out of production flashes. However, my one-hundred percent go-to all the time equipment is Burton bags and backpacks, Pocket Wizard Radio Slaves and Manfrotto Tripods, with my camera purchases and shop support coming from Lezot (Burlington, Vermont), I've steered away from internet purchases and the B/H's of the world…went back to one-hundred percent local.
How many days during the winter do you think you go without shooting snowboarding?
If one month has thirty days, I'll be shooting twenty-eight of them on average.
Do you have one day, or one session that stands out to you as your favorite?
Every time you go out on a shoot, you must strive to make each image memorable and capture the best possible still-life that the environment, conditions and terrain will allow. Each season produces so many special moments it would be impossible to nail down one specific time as 'my favorite.'
What photographers (action or not) do you admire?
Rami Hanafi, Lorenz Holder, Chris Burkhard, Adam Moran, Cole Barash, Oli Gagnon, Matt Georges, 13th Witness, Carlos Blanchard, Jeff Curtes, Craig Wetherby
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