A question I so often hear is: “How do I become a ski photographer?” In short, the answer is simple, you just start taking photographs of the sport that we all love. However, there is quite a bit that goes into getting one’s start in ski photography. This article series will serve as a platform of technical, creative, workflow and industry tips & tricks to help improve your photographic work on and off the mountain. Welcome to the Newschoolers Photography Handbook.
It goes without saying that before one can start their endeavors in ski photography, they must have a camera. Purchasing a camera can be an intimidating process as there are hundreds of options to choose from. When looking for a camera keep these few things in mind:
- Get a Camera with Manual Controls.
- Expensive Cameras Don’t Make Good Photographs.
- One Brand is Not Better Than The Other, They’re Just Different.
- If The Price is Too Good To Be True, It’s Probably a Scam.
- Buy Used or Refurbished to Save Money, Research the Seller.
- Stay Away from Bundle Packs on Amazon, Most of it is Junk.
- Autofocus and Frames Per Second aide in Photographing Skiing.
If you are looking for recommendations, take a look at the Canon t/ti series or the Sony a6000 series. These series of cameras are more reasonable in price, while still perform well enough on the slopes. For reference, my first camera was a Canon T2i which I used for skiing for about 3 years.
Ethan Swadburg on set with Level 1 Productions, Winter Park, Colo. May 2017. Photo: Grant Whitty
Once you finally get a camera in your hands it’s time for the fun to begin. Grab your new camera, throw it on automatic mode to start, and begin photographing anything that is interesting to you. Try to go beyond the usual dogs, cats and flowers. Once you have a basic idea how your camera works, try bringing it to your local mountain and begin photographing your friends skiing. If you don’t have any friends, use your camera and photos as a conversation starter with other skiers and make friends.
The legendary photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson once said that a photographer's first 10,000 photos are their worst. Cartier-Bresson couldn’t be more correct. Everyone’s first images are always horrible. Accept that, and continue to shoot. The quickest way to become a better photographer is to take more photographs.
Don’t feel bad if you mess something up, it’s how we grow as photographers. We mess up, we learn, we grow. After some time with your new camera, the next step is to learn how to use read light and use the manual mode within the camera.
Up Next: The Photographer's Handbook v.2: Exposure