In putting this piece together, one focussing on favorite photos, I’m reminded that the only thing I ever meant to do was ski. From inspiration gleaned in the mountains a path of passion has followed. In a given year, I now find myself identifying through a host of professional mediums from teaching and writing, to working as an athlete and ski guide. As a byproduct of my time spent in the outdoors, shooting photos has become a way to share special experiences. I have a long way to go in terms of photography, but through the process of learning how to capture a unique moment through a camera, I have been able to translate unique feelings through photos captured in special places across the world. The following is a few of my favorites, placed in genres that speak directly to my passions.
Skiing: It was all born from skiing. Being outside, on the top of a mountain, and sliding down its snowy flanks has been what’s framed much of how I see the world. Through that existence I’ve learned to recognize privilege, further shape my identity, better understand where my inspiration has come from and where those sparks might lead to in terms of future action.
This shot is of a client from “Tour Camp” situated in the Chugach Mountains of Alaska where myself and two other friends guide a helicopter assisted ski touring program each March and April. This photo ran in Frequency 11.3| The Snowboarders Journal for an article about our program penned by writer Devon O’Neil. The photo speaks to one of the two ten-foot storms that crushed us that year at Tour Camp. Most skiers in Alaska are pinned during big storms, unable to access the mountains. But during storms we have “Home Knoll”, a short little boot pack behind Tour Camp that allows for guides and clients to stretch their legs, maintain sanity through a dump, and when it snows that much, get completely barreled by fresh, Alaskan powder. In this photo Brie is hiking up for another lap while camp continues to get plastered.
I’ve been lucky to get a few memorable international assignments as a writer over the years, but some of my most memorable work has come as a ski guide. Working for Ice Axe Expeditions in Greenland and Antarctica have been incredible experiences, and the Svalbard trip from a few years back was just as other-worldly. For two weeks, I guided with a friend via a sailboat dubbed the Arctica II. Our first week was with traditional clients, while week two was full of an all-star crew put together to photograph and publish a feature story for Freeskier Magazine. Although I was guiding I was still able to snap a few top-notch shots. This photo of freeride hero Sam Smoothy was published by the Brazilian magazine Global Editora. It was one of those days that I couldn’t forget if I tried. Climbing and skiing never before touched, pristine couloirs that started at the ocean, and ended with incredible Arctic views was surreal. Our crew laughed, hiked, and skied all while Arctica II waited for us to jump back on a zodiac, eat onboard, rest, and prepare to repeat the next day.
A few select Travel Galleries (with a lot of skiing): Japan with Teton Gravity Research; Skiing the 7 Continents with the Adventure Sports Journal; 5 Photos from Kashmir while working as a ski guide for the Adventure Project
As much as skiing and traveling the world have influenced me, I wouldn’t be who I am today without music. There’s something about music that binds so much of humanity. The bands, songs and beats blend into something meaningful overtime, and for some, they become as motivating as any form of energy on the planet. This photo was taken while shooting the band Phish at their now legendary Halloween show in 2014. As a freelance writer for several music outlets I’ve had the fortune of catching some incredible shows over the years. Getting to shoot this one, on assignment for Glide Magazine has remained tough to beat.
Sustainability and Activism
When I was young, athletic pursuits gave me much of my growing inspiration. Skiing was there since I was two, and at some point, I can remember sitting on a chairlift, ascending a mountain, wondering why anyone would do anything to compromise the health of the environment. Ironic? Yes. But isn’t much of the environmental movement and the adventure sports world? Fast forward to my teens and twenties and after marching in protests, signing petitions, and arguing till my throat was sore, I’ve found a sincere passion in teaching. While the Ivory Tower is far from perfect, it provides a catalyst to develop theory, explore potential, and foster action. For those of us intimately attached to the outdoor adventure world it’s my personal hope that each individual realizes their place at some point, realizes how lucky they are to do what they do, and is then able to look outward to not only grasp some understanding of just how unsustainable the world is- environmentally, socially, and economically-but where they can find a sense of passion, community, and the drive to contribute to something brighter.
A few select Sustainability Galleries: Thoughts on ANWR from one of my students via Ecowatch; A shot of my sustainability students at the Nevada City Peace and Justice Center; Why Can’t Modern Culture Respect Indigenous Culture with Indigenous Action Media: Generational Living with Vision Magazine: Teaching, writing, and, collaborating with others on an international stage
Other Outdoor Adventures
As much as skiing is a primary craft, finding freedom through other outdoor mediums is a major pursuit. I’ve published photos and stories with numerous print magazines and online media outlets, and many favorites have been hosted right here on Gear Market. While rock climbing and mountain biking are two go-to activities during the non snowy months in my home of Lake Tahoe, the only thing that I think compares to skiing powder, is surfing a wave. While July 2015 is the 141st consecutive month I’ve skied at least one day in a given month, it’s also the 132nd month I surfed at least one wave. Kooky? For sure. But deep down it simply speaks to respect, an appreciation, and a sincere intent to maintain a connection to surfing while living in the mountains. It hasn’t made me an incredible surfer, but I can attest that the stoke is as strong now as it’s ever been. And while Alaska is the place I’ve probably traveled to most outside of my home in California, surfing AK has opened a whole new chapter outside of the primary pursuit of time skiing in the mountains. Yakutat is as unique, funky and special as anywhere in Alaska. The surfing just puts it on another level.