An examination of freeski photography trends, in my mind and my resulting thoughts..
1. Look at what HAS been done, what IS being done, show your respect and then DO anything but.
I once got into an argument with Dash Longe about the term “urban”. Dash’s thoughts centered around the fact that the term “urban” doesn’t really explain any part of the goal of sliding rails. To someone outside our tiny little world in skiing “urban” is just another jargony term with minimal inherent meaning. Why share this? At the time I didn’t agree with Dash despite his experience, blood sweat and tears.. but now I do. My mind was changed the moment I saw Jeff Winterton’s photo of Travis Heed sliding the illusive Mass C-Rail in Ski Time two years ago. “Urban” does not explain one ounce of how pivotal that moment was, the pure effortless look Heed achieved and the art that Winterton created. I also decided at that moment: our current vision of rail sliding would be tired. Rails are tired and will continue to get more tired as hand plants, hand drags, wall rides, stalls, bonks and drops bring the fun back into exploring a “less rural” landscape on skis. Thank god no one will read this or care what I have to say. Otherwise a statement like this might just stir up a hornets nest.
2. All but the most unique rails are tired. Thank our god, Ullr.
These words I will eventually eat. Actually I’m eating them right now. As evidenced of the decreasing popularity of park footage, “techy” rail photos and “holy crap look at what I slide despite the fact I can barely turn” cell phone uploads just sliding “a” rail isn’t enough anymore. Rails have moved out of the basement. We’re now into the seeming reverse thinking of traveling to landscapes DEVOID of snow in search of UNIQUE features. Why all but the most unique? We’re skiers, we crave that which no one else seeks. The new breed of discovered rails have “style” and “personality” before you even step onto them. I used that accursed five letter word.
Did I really just humanize a rail. Yes, yes I did. Photographers strive to suck the personality out of every situation and slam it into our art. Humans are social, we want to look at other people and hear about their trainwreck of a life. Rails are the same. We do it every time we analyze the kinks, bust factor, type of metal/wood/skate stop, the number of stairs, whats behind the rail, what the inrun looks like and god forbid.. who slid it before us. This is a rail’s personality. Rail photos with personality. Can you think of anything better? As a photographer I can’t.
3. Simplicity and fun.
Skateboarders have known “this” for years.
Ouch. The universal statement that never dies. Simplicity and fun breed this amazing quality of making a sport accessible to everybody. Simplify those “holy crap” “urban” moments down to a simple feature done obviously for fun and mom, dad, grandpa, grandma, cousin, uncle, whoever can open a mag and say, “whoa” instead of “oh.. thats nice.”
4. Don’t listen to the photographer.
We’re a cagy bunch. Sometimes we know what we’re doing. More often photographers are just out to make like Donald Trump and get the “money shot”. In case you’re still reading I’m half serious. Don’t listen to the photographer means: ski to ski. Done.
5. My personal photo wishlist.
Return of naturally lit lifestyle photos.
Rail photos shot with the skier in mind, not the rail.
The essential death of rail photos. Use sparingly.
The acceptance of wall drop shots with healthy sized landings. I want everyone I work with to have knees when they’re 30.
Hand plants in cities. Hand plants in the out of cities. Hand plants in general.
Tweaked tail/noes press stalls. Stalls that really bend your mind.
In the end…
A realization of current trends. A healthy respect of current trends. A rejection of current trends. A push towards a angle no one else thought of. Inject your own vision on skiing and go from there.
My coffee buzz just ran out.