Great Photo Books for Holiday Gifts
Professional snowboard photography is a bizarre existence. Outside of the top dogs, up-and-coming photographers often scrape by. When they do sell their shots, they have to give up creative control to the brand or media outlet, which have their own commercial interests and present the image in a way that doesn't always mesh with the photographer's original vision. It's part of paying the bills, but as an artist, that sucks.
Despite this reality, artists are always searching for new creative outlets to portray a special moment in time. So it's significant that we're seeing a handful of snowboard photo books this year that aren't just individuals' portfolios. These are peer collaborations with other riders experiencing this lifestyle from behind the lens. There are no ads, no filters, and no politics to what gets published, just quality art. This means snowboarding has risen to a level where there's enough passion and stoke driving it that people will actually drop substantial coin to feel what these photo collections aim to bring.
The Dirty Dogs
"Printing white snow with black ink" is the idea of Matt Georges' all black and white collection, but other than that, there's no specific theme to it. Between eye-beaming portraits and epic line slaying, you'll find everything from Gigi Rüf journal entries about getting his nose broken in a New Zealand bar to a really casual interview with Terje about the Olympics, surfing in Norway, and snow skating with Mark McMorris. There's even a pseudo Captain's Log from the barracks of an icebreaker on a turbulent Antarctica mission. As a limited edition with 500 copies, all 190 pages are printed in the French Alps for this annual project.
Jerome Tanon's Snowboard Yearbook 2012/2013 is a 240-page non-profit project for which 76 snowboard photographers submitted their favorite shots from all over the world. Some are street, some are pow, some are just textured tracks in the snow, and perhaps the most special are the lifestyle moments captured between the riding--moments like Zander Blackmon wincing in pain from a freshly-broken ankle in Boston or Jess Kimura wedding-carrying a smiley security guard named Bernard in Minneapolis. Every page is a scene to which we can relate in our own way, seizing elements of snowboarding that we all live but rarely see published.
The book is much less about pro riders and more about the diehard photographers expressing their individuality. Instead of showcasing the newest tricks and next year's hottest outfits, Snowboard Yearbook gets you stoked to shred in a very different way--like soul riding from your coffee table. Search "Snowboard Yearbook" on blurb.com ($170).
With an all-star lineup of eight elite snowboard photographers, Gonzalo Manera curates the personalized work of Dean Blotto Gray, Neil Hartmann, Carlos Blanchard, Cyril Müller, Daniel Blom, Jérôme Tanon, Matt Georges, and Thomas Stockli, each throwing down their own styles and playing with experimental techniques. Healthy use of black and white shadows and silhouettes, along with Polaroid emulsion lifts and lengthy exposure times, capture timeless scenes into which you'll want to stare repeatedly, noticing new layers of subtle nuance each time. This is about as raw as snowboard photography gets.