Freelance Content Creator
In a world of cliques and specialists, Danny Kern's everyone's pal and can do just about anything, and do it well. Depending on the time of year, he might be filming the Strange Brew boys, shooting photos in the backcountry, ripping mountain bikes with the Drink Water crew, or laying out his own zine. When he straps in, he can put down creative rail tricks, podium at banked slaloms, or send sevens into pow. I actually don't remember when or where Danny and I were introduced. I think it's because he's so relatable that when you meet him it feels like you've been homies for years. Like so many of us in this industry, it's a love of snowboarding that came first for Danny--before a desire to have a fun job--and with a camera in hand or a board beneath his feet, he represents this activity we love in the best way possible.
-- Taylor Boyd
Where are you from and where do you currently call home?
I’m from Colfax, California. I call Tahoe home and have lived in Govy for the past three summers.
How did you start snowboarding?
I started snowboarding after skiing for a year or two. My parents put me on snow when I was six and my brother, who’s 4 years older than me, started boarding a couple years after I started skiing, so I followed in his footsteps and started boarding. He’s also the reason why I started skating early on. But now he doesn’t do much of either, and I’m the one who stuck with it.
At what point did you realize that you wanted to work in the snowboard industry?
I think it was during my sophomore year of college. My freshman year at Sierra Nevada College, I became friends with a bunch of people who were really good, and that’s when I really started to get into filming. I didn’t really have a clue what I was doing. I was such a kook. I met Keenan Cawley, Stinky Dale, Brady Lem, Tommy Gesme, and a bunch of other friends. That's when the idea of possibly working in the industry sparked.
And how did you make that happen?
So at first it was all for fun. I really enjoyed boarding with the crew and doing follow-cams and making edits. Then my digital arts degree started to play a role, and I was told I should get an internship. This just so happened to be during the same time Woodward Tahoe was coming about and Paul Heran was in charge of media for Boreal and Woodward. I was fortunate enough to have him as a friend and a mentor and did an internship through Woodward Tahoe in the spring of 2013, I believe. I made the Strange Tapes series and shot a bunch of photos. I went to my first Super Park--17, the last one at Mt. Bachelor. Then I started working for Woodward Tahoe during the summer at their summer camp with Paul as my boss. After this I did some work for this Aussie brand, fyve. I made a series of video in Australia and worked at their adult camps in Japan for a couple years. Meanwhile, during the winter I was filming and shooting photos for the three years since I met all those guys at SNC. We’d go on a long van trip with all the homies during our winter break. I’ll never forget those trips and those edits and the movies we made. Other than that I’ve just been submitting photos for the last few years and doing freelance projects for brands.
Who did you look up to in the industry for inspiration?
Mike Basich. He did what he wanted and shot photos of himself while doing it. He’s a legend in my eyes--but honestly, a lot of people. The snowboard industry is pretty inspiring as a whole. There’s a ton of people who do just enough to get by and do what they love most and that’s inspiring in itself. Tim and Hannah Eddy, for example. DoRadical is an awesome concept and idea that’s sparked ideas and life-changing thoughts for myself. And then there’s people like Nial Romanek. This past winter I got to film and shoot with him for his Video Obscura project. His creativity and the way he looks at snowboarding and spots and tricks was really awesome to witness firsthand. Then after working his ass off to put this part together by December all he did was ride pow in the backcountry. Just seeing someone who’s mastered and filmed so much in the streets go from that to falling in love with the backcountry and being able to do what he wants without the worry of anything else deterring him from doing what he wants is really inspiring.
Other than that I guess there are a few others who really stand out that inspire me to come up with projects and do what I want. Austin Smith's Bachelor project was really cool this past winter. Aaron Blatt and his freelance mastery has been really inspiring for me. Alex Andrews and Chris and whoever else is a part of the Freedom Frontier--I think that’s some of the coolest shit ever. Same with the Gremlins and their property. Taylor Carlton starting the Rally 4 Rocker and watching that grow of the last few years has been incredibly inspiring. I don't know; like I said, the entire industry itself is inspiring and the more people I meet and the more involved I become the more inspired I get even in these difficult times.
What do you feel has been your biggest impact in your line of work?
I guess exposing people after stealing their souls. Filming more so I think. Helping my friends get their names out there and having fun while doing it.
What do you want to accomplish that you haven't yet?
Ahhhh, so much! I really want to make a documentary. I’ve been dabbling on the idea for years, since I was taking classes at SNC in Tahoe. I want to get into a mobile living situation with a good rig and just cruise around all winter with my sled and splitboard and camping gear, riding as much pow as I possibly can. I love riding pow more than anything, and this past in Tahoe reassured that for me. Hopefully I can get something figured out this fall and be able to freelance for brands and board with friends all next winter. I wouldn’t mind doing a bit of filming and shooting in some foreign streets as well. Hopefully I'll make it out to Bulgaria to help out with the Stinky Socks movie. More long term, I guess I really would like to land a job with a multi-category brand as a creative content creator or team manager perhaps. I love mountain biking. I used to race downhill in high school during the summers to stay in shape for boardercross for the winters. And after high school I fell in love with surfing. I’ve always felt like I'm good at planning and hosting and organizing trips and events, and I think with my media skillset I could be good at a position like that, but who knows. Part of me just wants to bail on reality and move to the woods. I think that snowboarding and everyone I know in the industry is one of a few things in my life that’s keeping me sane enough from doing that.
Anyone you'd like to thank?
My brother for getting me on a board in the first place and always letting me tag along with him and his friends. Obviously, my mom and dad--I wouldn’t be anywhere without them. They pushed me to do what I love and follow my passion with snowboarding and photography when I was in high school. Paul Heran for teaching and mentoring me.
All of the Strange Brew boys--my best friends--I feel like I wouldn’t be anywhere in this industry if it wasn’t for meeting all them freshman year of college. Tommy J--probably the main reason I came back to High Cascade for my second summer. He’s the man.
Ian Daly for buying the first Strange Brew van and continuing to own the SB van.
Ristro at Stinky Socks. Nate Blomquist from Common Apparel. I know there are plenty of others to thank for how they’ve impacted and guided me to where I am today. You know who you are, and I thank you.
Follow Danny on Instagram: @dbo_photo