By Felix Rioux
Edited by Chris O'Connell
I?ve known Phil Laorse, Dion and Belanger for over 4 years now. Like most of you, I knew them under the ?3 Phils? identity. In time I?ve learned to know them for their very distinct personalities.
I didn?t want to do another question/answer type of interview that you always see everywhere else. Those are repetitive and un-original. I wanted something more personal, something you rarely feel in a traditional interview. During my last trip to Mammoth, I stayed at Thomas and Phil?s home for few days. We had a lot of fun fooling around and taking lifestyle photos and that?s when I realised Phil?s passion for photography and his subjects. He showed some of his photos and I felt they had potential. That?s when I offered him a portfolio article for Newschoolers.com.
Phil Larose started his ?New School? career many years ago with Dion and Belanger; ?They gave me all that I needed to get where I am today. I owe it to them?. Their friendship and determination allowed them to travel around the globe and made them become, in some way, freeskiing icons. When you meet them in person, it?s hard to believe that these happy jokers are part of the New School elite, that they help skiing progress to their own vision.
If Larose is the quiet one of the 3, it?s because he?s the observer of the group. He?s got vision and takes note of what?s going on around him; ?I take a lot of photos of the crew? I document Plehouse. It?s what I like to do: take pictures of my friends and life. I have a feeling I?m not taking these photos for nothing?.
Phil started taking pictures in 1998 when a photo journalist visited his school (CEGEP). It?s at that moment he took interest in photography, but quickly put it aside to concentrate on his skiing career. 2-3 years later he came back to photography with his new camera, a Nikon F4. He started to gain a different perspective on his environment. Even when he?s not taking pictures, he?s observing what?s going on. Phil feels lazy and wishes he would use his camera more often; ?Anyways, for all those moments I don?t use my camera, some are for the eyes only, only for you and they are more beautiful that way?.
In 2002, Larose, Belanger and Thomas Rinfret founded Plehouse Films. The name is inspired by Tom?s guest house, where the guys often chill out and watch videos?
?Plehouse, is the heart of freeskiing itself. It?s the reflection of the athletes on the production of a film. As skiers, it?s our devotion to our sport?.
Fed up with all the ski films using the same recipe year after year, these skiers from Lac Beauport (near Quebec City), want to offer a more creative perspective that is more loyal to how they live as pro skiers. The angle is more oriented towards the skiers lifestyle and their personal style and tricks. Phil is very conscious of the challenge; ?Nevertheless, it?s always difficult to keep an audience listening and concentrated for 45 minutes. With Plehouse, we try to make it more pleasant to watch?.
In the middle of this season, Dynastar will launch three new skis: the Phil Larose, Phil Belanger and Phil Dion pro-models. Larose?s concept was made by Doug Levinthal (the brother of Jason Levinthal, Line?s founder)? ?I tried to draw it myself many times but got discouraged. I lacked confidence and worried that Dynastar wouldn?t understand my drawings and concept.
?It was a city catching fire and my face was coming out of the smoke. At the tip of the ski I had a big hammer in my hand. They said with the 9-11 events the ski wouldn?t sell so I gave the mandate to Doug. I asked him to draw deformed characters and it worked out really good?.
I took this photo from the window of reactor plane. We?re over the Canadian prairies. I really like those little red tapes sticking out on the wings. I?ve driven many times across the prairies and it?s boring has hell. Sometimes I try to see the highway I used while driving and when I find it, I like to think how much faster I?m going from this airplane window.
This is a cross process of Dash Longe in Salt Lake City. We were doing urban rails that day. Dash is an interesting character. He is very confident in himself it seems like. I like this picture of him. I like the background with the trees and the colors. I?m happy with his look too.
I took this picture at Mt-Hood during the summer of 2002. The guy in the foreground with white teeth, that?s Eric Iberg. That?s his camera we see. The other one behind is Matt Levinthal, the photographer. I like the truth this picture inspires. You?re probably wondering why they?re laughing like that? Well I think it?s because they just pulled a prank on Belanger (who just opened a D-Structure in Quebec City). They weggied him and then pushed him into a ditch.
I love cars. For a while I wanted to stop into a scrap yard but didn?t, I feared the guys would laugh at me. I would always find a good reason not to stop; ?Haaa! I don?t have time?? But here I am at 6 :30 in the morning driving to L.A. I finally stop in a nice scrap yard. I took plenty of pictures, including this one of a ?58 Lincoln. It was really nice, I was fascinated. The picture doesn?t mean much but when you?re next to the car, you can imagine what kind of history it must of had and that?s what?s cool about it. You can imagine cadavers in the trunk. Maybe the owner almost killed himself driving, maybe someone important was in it or dangerous gangsters. We?ll never know and it doesn?t matter, it?s only a dead old car with history. I?m impressed?
This is Louis, my brother. I love this photo because of the texture on his low temperature wet suit. The photo was taken at Thomas Rinfret?s house at Lac Beauport. Louis is currently studying to be a chef.
When I go back to Japan next year, I?ll take this shot again. I find we don?t see the city enough. For a while I tried to convince myself this photo was better than I thought, but I new I was lying to myself. I like the subject, I still think I can exploit it better.
Here?s Belan. I like the composition of the photo, it was taken at the Phoenix offices in Japan.
Here, you can see Phil Dion and Alexandre Larose. They are celebrating after finishing filming Phil?s intro for the up-coming Plehouse movie, ?Exact Science?. In this sequence Dion plays the role of a serial killer with an incurable illness?
Phil Dion in Salt Lake City. We were just finishing a rail session, when out of the blue, a big roar was heard coming from the neighbourhood. A gigantic black bear started running after Dion. He hid away in a corner hoping not to be seen but the bear never lost his track. You can see the fear in Dion?s eyes? That?s what I like about this photo.
Phil Dion again, I just like the contrast in this picture and his neutral look.
When I have nothing to do, I try to take some photos. Sometimes I need to make tests on myself because no one wants to co-operate. I don?t have a choice but to be my own subject. In this case I?m at The Grand Phoenix, a hotel not too far from Shiga-Kogen in Japan. I have a 200mm lens zoomed in to the max, I also remember the exposure time was slow. I like the hallway, and I?m fond of this photo but unfortunately it?s crooked.
An auto-portrait. I took this photo at Belan?s place in Mammoth last year. I love the composition and the colors. I also appreciate how my girlfriend and Tom are looking at the camera in the background. I had no idea they were there in that position. Without them in the background, I don?t think I would have selected this image.
It?s Tokyo taken from the Century Hotel. A magnificent view, buildings till the eyes can?t see. I personally love Japan, we are always well taken care of. We always take some time to visit and take advantage?
Thomas Rinfret at Snow Summit in 2002. I love the contrast on his shirt, his face and mainly his eye, hair and cap. I like this photo a lot. I had just borrowed Felix?s light meter to take this shot, and I think I also had borrowed his 50mm lens. Thanks Felix.
Exact Science is available at D-Structure!