This morning a copy of Australia and New Zealand Snow Boarder magazine fell through my letter box with a shot of mine gracing the front cover. If you haven’t already had a chance to check it out for yourself then it’s just at the bottom of this post. A family friend was around the house at the time who has no connection with the snowboard world or any idea how it even operates. Of course there was talk of how amazing the riding was but, with the friend being of a wiser generation it quickly turned onto the legality of such shots. “How are you even allowed to snowboard at an abandoned mine?” i was asked. This question got me thinking. There is of course a simple answer to this question; you’re not. From getting out of the car we passed two ‘No Trespassing’ signs followed 100 metres further up the track by a barrier with an longer winded version explaining that we had no right to be there. Did this stop us? Not at all. We simply walked around the barrier and went to work.

This story won’t be an uncommon one to ski and snowboard photographers worldwide. In this edition of the magazine i have a further 3 shots and all of those required some form of trespassing. One was on a rail out in the public which we shot around midnight to avoid detection. One was in the garden of a private house. We waited until a monday when there was no one in to shoot that one. The final one was probably the most prepared. Due to the location of a complete abandoned town we had to have a designated drop off and pick up point involving a 20 meter dash in the open with all our gear to then roll down an embankment. Heading home we hid behind an electricity box waiting to be picked up. All in a days work.

Every district has it police force and i have no doubt a proportion of them are extremely tolerant of snowboarders and photographers trying to go about their work. The Summit County force seem to be an exception to this rule and have been rumoured to take pride in confiscating snowboards, camera equipment and issuing fines or even court orders.

The image on the right is taken from the Summit Daily News of police chief Joe Wray who did a “bust of snowboarders illegally riding in Dillion”. In amongst the snowboards you can see a video camera. In this case the Videographer Jay Heney hadn’t even started filming the session making you think there was no reason to take the camera. Each of the riders and filmer were given citations for unlawful conduct on public property with all of their gear, including the video camera, being held as evidence until it cleared the courts!

Dillon is a town designed to stop you from snowboarding. They have a marina area by the waterfront with a bunch of rails. Attached to each individual railing are padlocks to deter any attempt to ride them. When i first arrived at Dillon one of the features that immediately jumped out at me was the Dam which towers over the town. I’m pretty adamant that given the right amount of snow you could have a photographer at the bottom and let someone drop in from the top. Local residents and people who know the area would laugh at this idea but i’d never been there before and was discussing the possibility of doing it. As the weeks past by i actually found out the deal with the dam. Since the terror attacks on September 11th $10 million dollars has been invested into security at the dam. Armed guards are stationed there 24 hours a day and just to be seen looking at it for longer than a few minutes arouses suspicion from the FBI. Can you imagine trying to snowboard down it?!

This is a very scary prospect and its something that was always on my mind during last season. As a photographer i earn a living from selling the images to magazines and advertisers. Should any police officer decide to confiscate my equipment then that is my earning power reduced to zero. I can no longer earn any money making it a very expensive and ultimately useless trip. I’m sure there must be some photographers out there that this has happened to and i feel their pain. I’m hoping that there is a middle ground which can be established so that in future when i run in with the law we all know where we stand, after all we’re just trying to make a living.

Bringing this story back down to where it began, i can say with pride that i took the image on the cover. As a photographer i strive to produce images that have the potential to be included on the front page of a magazine. I just can’t help but wonder if Police chief Joe Wray had a copy of this magazine in his hands today what would he think? Do you think he’d be praising our talent and congratulating us on it, or trying to use it as evidence to prosecute us for breaking the law?……………

Dane Tiene, breaking the law. Photographed by Tim  Lloyd, also breaking the law.