I’ve been shooting photos of my work in the mineral exploration industry for as long as I’ve had a camera – the wild places I travel to for work were the original inspiration for my photography. While the majority of my published and paid work has been in the winter sports world, my only cover has been on a mineral exploration trade magazine. Now, I can add three more covers to my stash of tear sheets: Canadian Mining Magazine‘s Winter 2013 issue, and the 2012 Annual Report / 2013 Media Kit for the Prospectors and Develepors Association of Canada (PDAC).
It’s always been exiting for me to share images of the remote places I get to travel to for work, so seeing those images spread to such a large audience is an amazing feeling. I have the very unique position of being a professional photographer working a ‘real job’ in a crazy industry, which gives me the ability to capture scenes that a photographer hired for a shoot simply could not. These shots aren’t staged – in both sampling photos, the workers are taking real samples that were part of real geochemistry programs, and after the shots was taken I put the camera away, recorded some notes, and moved on to the next sample station.
All in a days work.
I also recently updated my Mining / Mineral Exploration portfolio with recent work. Check it.
I’m writing this from the muggy confines of a rental house in a gated community in Tapachula, Mexico – please forgive me for not giving the subject a proper run-down. I wanted to get a few words out before I forget what snow even looks like. More on why I’m in Mexico to follow, if I have time. It’s a bit of a crazy story.
While is seems strange to be writing of ‘deep winter’ from the Mexican jungle, a few similarities come to mind. Deep Winter was anything but. Warm, sunny – at times, downright tropical. A strong inversion had temperatures well above freezing in the Whistler Blackcomb alpine, and the high elevation sun had me in more of a sweat than today’s jaunt through the jungle. I still haven’t decided whether it is more stressful to be thrown into Deep Winter or deep Chiapas on three days notice. My utter lack of español speaking skills leads to me believe that I may be in for… interesting times. But, enough of Mexico – come back later for that one.
I got the call from Whistler PR while I was stuck in rush hour Taylor Way traffic, making my way to the city for a shoot at Cypress with Katal Innovations – despite the short notice, I knew I wanted another crack at the King of Storms title and accepted the invitation on the spot. Unfortunately, drunken mishap involving contact lenses and the wrong solution kept me stranded in Vancouver until Sunday afternoon, leaving me 2 days to scout, storyboard, and recruit a team for the gruelling 3 day grind that is the Deep Winter Photo Challenge.
Luckily, I had been thinking about Deep Winter since my 3rd place finish in 2011, and had a song and concept long incubating in my mind. Set to The Decemberists’ “The Crane Wife 1″, I had a vision of a winter love story: a mountain couple that shred – and shred together. When I found out that skiers McKenna Peterson and Dylan Crossman would be in Whistler during the contest, I thought there was potential. When I found out they were living in Dylan’s camper, I knew my story was set.
My team was rounded out with my good friends Eric Poulin and Jake Cohn, along with out of town riders Nick Larson and Ryan Cruze. Local photogs Geoff Jansen and Erin Hogue rounded out the squad as my two amazing assistants. Despite the long days on the mountain, less than optimal skiing conditions, and stiff competition, we were able to pull together a slideshow that I was legitimately excited to present. The judges must have enjoyed my vision as they awarded my team 3rd place, behind wonderkid Reuben “are you for scuba” Krabbe and veteran Russell Dalby. Mike Helfrich took the ‘best in show’ crown for a photo that is easily the most badass frame ever captured from the Creekside dam. Marcus, you are beast.
I’ve done a few of these competitions now, and it blows my mind how special a place Whistler Blackcomb is. No where else has such a passion for photography – selling out the venue year after year – and it really is the best place in the world to be an action sports photographer.
Big thanks to Chris McLeod and the Whistler PR team for giving me another crack at Deep Winter. 3rd is nice, but my name isn’t on the trophy yet – I’ll have to make another appearance in a couple more years.
Here’s the show. I had a great time making it – enjoy.
To update my blog from a summer of neglect, I’ll go back to the beginning – my sister Melanie got married in June, in the beautiful setting of the Canadian Rockies. The weather did its best to confound the whole event – flooding across the interior, washed out bridges and a detour from hell made getting to Nipika Mountain Resort a logistical nightmare. The rain on the day of the wedding was unrelenting, forcing the outdoor ceremony into a cramped but rustic cabin – but everything flowed so seamlessly that it seemed as if it was planned from the start.
I don’t really shoot weddings, especially not for close friends or family – it’s tough to enjoy the day when you’re there to work. I agreed to shoot just the wedding party photos, though I knew full well it would turn into a much more involved process. In the end, the photos turned out great and the wedding was an amazing success – a testament to the incredible love Melanie and Landon share.
I could probably be convinced to shoot a similar style of rustic, outdoors wedding every now and then. The further into the mountains, the better.
This photo is a couple years old, but I knew it would one day find a home in print. When I was in the ‘Whistler Backcountry’ for the Ski Salt Lake Shootout, we spied a lone splitboarder bootpacking under a cliff face to get on top of a single line, etched with perfect Wasatch precision into the north bowl of Red Baldy. His touring party happened to be another Whistler crew, so we posted up with them to watch this rather interesting line choice unfold.
The rider, Dave Henkel, dropped in and fully committed to the straightline, maching through the farmed turns at Xavier speed. I shot a couple frames wide at the start, then zoomed in to capture a tighter frame as he approached the bottom of the line.
This photo is very much a right place, right time capture – if I had toured through here half an hour early or later, I wouldn’t have gotten this photograph. Sometimes, that’s all it takes.
My blog has fallen into a state of serious neglect lately. I blame instagram (@andrewstrain for updates that occur more frequently than semi-annually).
So, updates. There are a few of them. A season of mineral exploration took me from tidewater to massive icefields; from jagged peaks to deep underground. More on that in the coming weeks. For now, I’ll start with my most recent photographic news – a trio of photos in my favourite publication: Kootenay Mountain Culture Magazine.
I’ve been a big fan of KMC (and now it’s sister mag Coast Mountain Culture) since I first picked up a copy in Nelson 3 years ago, so I’m pretty stoked to see some of my images inked onto it’s pages. Props to the editorial team for consistently putting together two radical magazines, and thanks for letting me be a contributor to a publication I’ve always admired.
Maybe get the caption right next time though… the world needs to know that Eric Poulin has a sick (switch) method.
Something a little different for me – this is my favourite trail to run and while I [like to] run often, I no longer live in Pemberton and I’ve never bothered to shoot photos of running.
With the arrival of spring weather, my girlfriend and I decided to head back to my favourite trail and shoot a couple photos, a little outside of my winter sports comfort zone.
With spring comes field season – my winter is officially over, and it’s back to camp for me. Once we get it built, that is…
I don’t think there is a better way to turn 28 than to heli into a zone dubbed “Chuter McGavin”, shoot photos from the bird of your best friends shredding badass couloirs, then drop into a line named “I eat pieces of shit like you for breakfast!” Toss on the skins and go for as many laps as your legs can handle.
Happy (Gilmore) birthday to me!
For some words by Jeff Slack, head over to Unofficial Networks. Some photos from the day below.
It’s been almost a year since I managed to steal third prize in Whistler Blackcomb’s Deep Winter Photo Challenge. Today, I was out on the mountain scouting some stuff with Jussi Grznar, who is making his own run for the title of “King of Storms” next week, bringing back all kinds of wonderful memories like shooting in such heavy snowfall that my camera completely iced over. Or, sitting in the Glacier Creek bathroom for an hour trying to de-fog my lenses with a hand dryer (a more detailed re-cap here).
Would I do it again? Hell yes. I live for Whistler’s storm season. In the meantime, enjoy my 2011 slideshow, and get your tickets for this year’s event before it sells out. January 14 @ the Fairmont. See you there.
Winter arrived early and strong in southwest BC: I got my first pow turns on October 3rd, got chased out of camp by two feet in the valley bottom on November 17th, and could barely breathe nor see on Blackcomb’s opening day, the snow was so deep. And then, as fast as winter arrived, the jet turned off and the sky stayed blue for almost a month.
While my friends in Utah are still suffering from the early season doldrums, winter is back in full force in the Whistler area, providing badly needed powder for the Christmas vacation crowd and snow-starved locals. A combination of factors has led to the establishment of an uncharacteristically unstable coastal snowpack, making the new snowfall a maddening exercise in patience and restraint, as everyone is chomping at the bit to get out and into the gnar. Two BC skiers succumbed to injuries sustained after being caught in avalanches this week, a sobering reminder of the dangers that exist within our mountains.
Wanting to escape the holiday crowds at Whistler, but leery of the heightened avalanche risk, I headed out to a pillow zone off the Duffey Lake Road with the Surface Skis crew on a greybird photo / video mission. The lack of snowfall has left me with very little to shoot over the last month, and I was eager to get out for the first ‘work’ day of the season. The light was flat, but the snow was excellent and pillows well-developed, with plenty of protected stashes hiding in the forested shoulder of Joffre Mountain. Just another day in paradise…
Condolences to the friends and families of the two skiers that died doing what they love. May the powder be plentiful in the afterlife.