Things I’ve Learned: Erik Seo

April 25th, 2012 by

You've seen his photographs on the covers and pages of countless magazines, DVD box covers and advertisements. Through years of hard work Erik Seo has cemented himself as one of skiing's top photographers.

This week, we pick his brains about shooting photos for a living, his season on snow and much more.

At the moment, I'm at home in Salt Lake City, UT.

At this point in the season I'm getting ready for a bit of time on the road for all the spring terrain park shoots.

Lately, I've been very happy with some down time. It's been a slow year. When it's go time, it's been crazy hectic, and when it's not, super slow. Slow is nice and relaxing.

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Photo: Courtesy Seo

On the other hand, it's been a real pain to shoot ski photos this season. It's been a weird snow year, and I didn't go to Washington, BC, Japan, or Europe. That didn't leave me with much snow to work with this season.

I'd say the biggest challenge I face when it comes to work is the weather. My life revolves around something that is completely unpredictable.

In order to overcome this challenge, I have a bookmark folder in my web browser with weather forecasts for about 25 different locations across North America, and a few others worldwide in cool places I want to go to. I usually look at all of these every morning in the winter, trying to figure out where the next stop is.

Something I've come to rely on are flashes. I think I need to quit that.

On any given day out in the field, I'd say some essentials to carry in your pack would be Nicotine. Actually, I quit. So, how about a camera and some lenses?

Five years ago, I never would have thought I would have gone to Alaska in the winter, twice, without any ski equipment.

I've been very fortunate to have gone to Alaska twice this year. Most of my best photos from this season came from there. Without those trips, I'd be looking for a summer job.

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In the not too distant future, I'm really hoping to make my way to somewhere in the Southern Hemisphere. I didn't really ski much this year and I need to get some ski time in without the angry midget on my back.

If I had to dish out the best three pieces of travel advice one, get an airline reward credit card and stick to one airline and get elite status. We travel with a shitload of heavy gear and paying for that sucks. You also tend to almost get treated like a human if you have some sort of status with the airline you travel with. Two, get an iPad. It was the best thing I've bought in a while for travel. I thought I'd never use it except to show portfolio photos. Wrong. Three, those dumb looking U-shaped pillows are amazing. I can actually sleep on a plane now.

I particularly enjoy the work of and/or find inspiration from Mattias Fredriksson, Frode Sandbech, Tim Kemple, Tim Peare, Scott Dukes, Tim Zimmerman, Blake Jorgenson, Jordan Manley.

It's pretty crazy to see midgets. 

I think it's extremely important to have fun.

It's generally not a very good idea to get bent.

seo_polaroid_1_0.jpgOne rule of thumb for the aspiring ski photographer is you will have to work 10x harder than you think you do now. But it's worth it.

A couple of things you might not know about selling photos for use in advertisements are your business and people skills are more important than your photographic abilities.

Photo Left: Courtesy Seo

I've found that maintaining relationships with clients is kind of a big deal.

Something that I can't quite understand is how someone could confuse me with Shay Williams [Managing Editor at Freeskier]. For real. He's like a foot taller than me, wears glasses and has way squintier eyes than me. I know there are like 10 Asians involved in [the freeskiing] scene but come on.  

And on a completely different note, what the hell is up with people thinking I'm Shay Williams? I mean, I know we all look alike but gimme' a break.

Something new for me going forward I really don't know. Any suggestions?

One thing I'm really looking forward to is next season, a normal winter, and skiing a lot of pow. Daily.

For more on Seo, check out his website and blog. To keep tabs on Seo as he travels the globe, follow him on Twitter—@erikseo and on Facebook—Erik Seo Photography.

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About the author:
Henrik Lampert loves hot dogs, the Boston Bruins and Norway. He's the Online Editor here at Freeskier.