"Sequence photography has fallen out of favor. There's been a return to the spirit of capturing one exact moment instead of an extended moment."
With the barrage of media attention skateboarding has been receiving over the last few years, it's difficult to remember a time when the sport was considered a deviant, even criminal, activity. But back in the '80s, anyone seen rolling around on a plank with four wheels was, in the public's eye, most certainly destined never to amount to much.
But if it weren't for skateboarding, Matt Houghton, editor of Snowboard Canada (SBC) magazine/editorial director of SBC Media, might never have gotten to where he is today. Growing up near Toronto in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Houghton started skating at age 14 and picked up snowboarding a couple of years later. It was a culture disseminated as much through word-of-mouth as through photos, videos, and print, and Houghton became fully entrenched, devouring every available media. Throughout high school and college he contributed to 'zines as a photographer and writer, produced his own, and made a pivotal decision: to spend the next three winters in Lake Louise, Alberta, snowboarding.
Once back in Toronto, a chance encounter with Perry Gladstone, founder of Limited Snowboards, saw Houghton riding for the team and eventually volunteering his time with Gladstone's own publication, Vehicle magazine; a year later, Houghton was hired as editor. "I was literally 22, 23 years old, with no intention of staying in Toronto," he remembers. "I had no experience editing magazines, besides making my own. I was doing the design, doing the editing, shooting photos, and creating content." When financial troubles forced the magazine to shut down, Houghton began freelancing full-force with such magazines as SBC, TransWorld Snowboarding, Snowboarder, and Stick. He was hired as managing editor of SBC eight years ago, was promoted to editor within a year, and has been overseeing and editing for SBC Media ever since, helping to launch such sister titles as SBC Skateboard.
Houghton works in tandem with SBC Photo Editor Colin Adair, whom he credits with helping to "elevate our magazine to what it is today." The pair makes the final photo selections together, for every issue. "The images in our magazine need to tell the story as much as the corresponding writing does—if there is any, which may not be the case," explains Houghton. "Our readers look for inspiration and excitement within our pages, and the photos need to provide that."
On the perks of the job:
"I have been lucky enough to go on many, many editorial trips (read: an excuse to get paid while snowboarding), all of which have had memorable moments, from the stressful to the hilarious. There was the time I almost ran out of gas in the middle of the California desert, driving from Mammoth Mountain to L.A., with two pro snowboarders, a photographer, and no gas station in sight. There was the week spent WAY up north in British Columbia at Powder King, a tiny, remote, and renegade resort where rules do not apply and the only food comes from a deep-fryer. Heck, the first trip I ever went on for Snowboard Canada involved [photographer] Scott Serfas and [former pro snowboarder and Whiskey legend] Sean Kearns, who warned at the start that ‘things might get boozy.' Lots of deep snow, lots of near-missed flights, lots of laughs, and a few moments that were unsuitable for print."