Things I’ve Learned: Bryn Hughes on how to make it as a ski photographer
"The best parts of my days are all the stupid funny things that happen with the clowns I go out shooting with," says photographer Bryn Hughes. For 15+ years, the British Columbia native has been behind the lens capturing these stupid funny things, in addition to the action and the lifestyle that go hand in hand with the candid moments. Bryn's talent, along with a passion for the mountains and the people that inhabit them, have rendered him one of the most well respected photogs in the world of wintersports.
A senior photographer here at Freeskier for five years, Bryn's work gives life to the pages of our magazine. Beyond that, his photographs have been showcased around the world in numerous publications and utilized for copious advertising campaigns. Bryn's efforts were most recently celebrated when he won the People's Choice Award at the 2011 Olympus Pro Photographer Showdown at the Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival.
As one who has been around the block and back, Bryn has unique insight into the workings of the ski industry; he knows well the role that photographers play in making the proverbial clock tick. We checked in with Mr. Hughes to inquire about the past, present and tips on making it in the industry as a photographer:
The best thing about shooting photos for a living has to be the entourage of supermodels wanting to please you in any way, just to have a chance to get at your huge bank account…
The worst thing about shooting photos for a living is heading out on a trips and arriving to terrible conditions, when it is good back home.
[Photo left: by Russell Dalby]
When I deal with these negative aspects, I've learned to drink to excess.
There isn't one standout best season for me. I've had so many great seasons. If I had to pick one, 2009/10 was pretty memorable with my first trips to Japan and Alaska, both with all time conditions.
One of my proudest moments as a photographer was winning the People's Choice Award at the 2011 Pro Photographer Showdown during Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival. Powder Magazine's Photo of the Year award in 2005 was pretty awesome, too.
I've found that it helps to only shoot with great people and skiers. I love to work with Treadway, Abma, Heimer, Flahr, Pettit, Bibby, Parker White, Wiley Miller.
Typically I shoot with Canon Mark IV with multiple lenses, Hasselblad 501 C/M when I need a little change of pace. Lately it seems my iPhone is the camera being used the most. I carry my gear in F-Stop packs.
Of all the other ski photographers in the biz, I particularly admire the work of Jordan Manley, Blake Jorgenson and Erik Seo.
Outside of the skiing industry, I draw inspiration from other photographers like Scott Pommier, Ian Ruhter, Dan Winters.
To the aspiring action sports photographer, I'd say keep it fun, don't worry about having the best gear, work with what you have and only show your best photos.
[Photo right: Bryn gettin' his. Photo by Dana Flahr]
A few things I've learned over the years about working with clients is make sure you and your client are very clear on what is wanted on the shoot, shoot everything imaginable including all the behind the scenes shots. You will be surprised with what clients will pick for advertising.
The industry is constantly evolving, and one big change I'm starting to see is photographers have to be able to shoot motion as well, which will keep you looking at things differently and makes you more appealing to clients as well as film companies, especially when it comes to travel.
In five years, I wouldn't be surprised if still photography leans harder to the artistic styles, as RED Cam frame grabs will be good enough to get the average shots. Hopefully this will help in weeding out the average photographers out there.
Looking back at the path I took to get to where I am today, I can't believe I didn't start 10 years earlier.
I'm thankful that I get to travel to amazing places to ski and shoot with top class people.
Looking forward, I expect more travel to exotic ski locations and I hope to document everything to do with the travel. Areas of China look pretty amazing.
Bryn Hughes' Slideshow—2011 Peoples Choice Award, Olympus Pro Photographer Showdown
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About the author:
Henrik Lampert loves hot dogs, backflips, the Boston Bruins and Norway. Twenty-seven years old and a Massachusetts native, he's the Editor of Freeskier Magazine and Freeskier.com—a proud staffer since 2010.