It’s been a while since we last spoke. How have you been?
It's been a little bit of a wild ride lately, but things are going well!
Has Red Bull Illume been an influence in the past year or so for you? Have you started thinking about photography differently, for example?
Oh, absolutely. The level of ingenuity, talent, and drive that went into all of the photos from last year's Red Bull Illume is hugely inspiring as well as crazy intimidating.
Every time I'm working on a photo I'm thinking in the back of my head, "Is this going to be enough to make it into the finals again?" but I can never answer that question. The game has been upped so much that I'm always trying to think 3 or 4 steps ahead, but I never know if it's enough to compete with everyone else.
We understand you’ve moved into a van and are now living life on the road. How do you manage that as a photographer?
It's true. My girlfriend and I moved our lives and careers into a 38 foot (11,5 meters for all you metric users) travel trailer in June and have been living the nomadic life since then. We've got a toy hauler type trailer, which means that it's got a garage area in the back which we've turned into our studios. She's a jeweler and has her work area in one side of the garage area and I've got my desk and computer on the other.
As far as shooting, it's been awesome. I was in a bit of a creative rut back in Denver. Once we hit the road, the new places we went and the people we met helped reignite my photographic passion. I've shot more in the last 3 months than I did in the last year and a half in Denver. Not only am I out shooting more but I'm meeting with brands and advertising agencies in all of the major cities that we're going to in order to get on their radar for future projects and campaigns. There's no better marketing for yourself than face time.
What do you do if you need a studio for example?
That's one of the beautiful things about being an action photographer, I'm essentially a location shooter so luckily I don't need a studio too often. I have friends in or near most of the places we've posted up, or at least a friend of a friend who can help with location help. If I do need a studio I just jump on Google and do a search and have a list of studios for rent nearby.
Has life on the road changed the gear you carry with you?
Coming from the snowboard industry, I could usually only shoot with what I could fit on the back of my snowmobile, so I learned a lot of tricks to make a little gear go a long way. I've typically done my best to carry only what I absolutely need, so I've always run a fairly bare-bones setup.
What’s your go-to setup right now?
I've shot Canon for the past 20 years but just recently Sony has been gracious enough to let me try out a couple different camera setups and I think I'm going to make the switch to Sony soon. I've been trying out the Sony A9 for a few days now and it's pretty much the perfect camera! I'm hooked!
For lighting I've been using Elinchrom for the last 12 years and couldn't be happier. I still use my 12 year old Ranger RX packs on every shoot and they've only ever been to the shop once. They've just released a new 1200 w/s flash system that I can't wait to get my hands on that will probably replace my Ranger packs.
Other than those, the only other piece of equipment that I use daily is my Mountainsmith Parralax pack, which I think is pretty much the perfect photo bag. They're a smaller company out of Colorado who make an amazing product and take photo bags very seriously.
Any cool projects you’re currently working on?
I keep a folder of photo ideas and concepts that I add to semi-regularly and dig into for inspiration. It's on my list of things to do tomorrow to dig through the folder, find an idea to commit to, and contact an athlete here in Portland to make it happen with. Ben Raybourn lives here and is one of my favorite skateboarders, so I'm going to try to reach out to him in hopes of setting something up. Fingers crossed!
Any advice for aspiring photographers?
In general my biggest advice to aspiring photographers is to assist! Although I studied photography in school, I learned everything I know about shooting from assisting other professionals! It's not always glamorous and you'll mop a lot of floors, but it pays off exponentially in the skills you learn. And also in this day and age it's insane not to take advantage of online tutorials. I'm not saying that it'll replace an actual photography degree from a reputable institution, but there are sooooo many amazing educational sites out there and up-and-comers should be taking advantage of them. I learned everything I know about photoshop from www.phlearn.com. Thanks, Aaron Nace!