What was your first camera?

I was asked recently about the first camera I owned and it made me think about the journey to where I am today.

Here are the cameras I have owned/operated over the last 30 years or so. Enjoy!

Kellog’s 110 film keychain camera maybe 6 box tops. 1987?

Kodak single use 35mm cameras – 90’s

Nikon FM SLR 35mm film camera with 50mm lens – 95-96

Canon 35mm film water proof Sure Shot camera – 96 on (purchase with Marlboro miles!)

Pentax ZX-50 SLR 35mm film camera – 96-07 This was the camera I used throughout college and on.

Nikon Coolpix p7000 digital camera – 04-on  First digital camera, but I had no clue on how to store, process, etc.

Canon Rebel digital camera – 06  First used DSLR, still no clue how to process, organize, etc. and derailed shutter within the first few months in my procession!

Canon 20d dslr – 07-12  This camera also marked the time when I bought Michael Clark’s “A Professional Photographer’s Workflow” ebook. Or as I call it, “The Bible of digital photography management.” Do yourself a favor and buy this book.

Canon 5d mark ii – 12-14

Canon 5d Mark iii – 14-16

Sony A7Rii – 16- on. First mirrorless.

Sony A9 – 17 – on

Portraits

Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski, Ensign Peak Nature Park, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Portrait : a painting, drawing, photograph, or engraving of a person, especially one depicting only the face or head and shoulders.

“Louis, you shoot portraits?” It was late October and I was looking for an assistant to help with an upcoming editorial portrait shoot. My prospective candidate – a talented portrait and wedding photographer – was serious when he asked me the above question. In fact, it’s not the first time someone has been surprised that I photograph things other than adventure/action sequences.

Dan Chace for Barron’s Magazine.

Barron’s Magazine, November 27, 2017. Photos.

After receiving the request to create an environmental portrait of Daniel Chace I paid a visit to his office. I scoped different spots  then noted what lighting equipment would be necessary. Next I visited the Bonneville Shoreline Trail located only two blocks from the office and scouted the possibilities. The direction given was to focus on an outside look, but if weather forced us inside the office would be our back up.
The day arrived with cloud covered skies, but no precipitation. Just to be safe we set up a lighting rig in a conference room before meeting Dan and heading up to the trail.
Once outside we spoke about children, skiing, running, investing and how life has a way of unfolding. We shot on the trail and near the Museum of Natural History then returned to the office with time to spare. So we shot there too. 

McKenna Peterson for Backcountry Magazine.

Backcountry Magazine, December 2017. Photos and Words.

McKenna Peterson had been in my thoughts  frequently this past summer. She was in the middle of her first season skippering a fishing boat off the Alaska coast when I reached out. I was hoping she could share some insights on fishing, backcountry skiing, being an professional athlete, her family and the lose of her father to an avalanche. Luckily, she said yes and the result is a piece titled, “Eyes Wide Open.”

Luke His for Backcountry Magazine.

Backcountry Magazine, November 2017. Photos.

Local writer Erme Catino reached out last ski season to see if I could help create photos for his piece on Luke Hinz’s attempt to ski all the lines listed in the Wasatch’s steep skiing guide, “The Chuting Gallery”. Luke was trying to tick all of them in one season while raising funds and awareness for local nonprofits. We caught up to Luke one cloudy morning in April as he hiked and skied the runs on Mount Baldy. 

Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski, Ensign Peak Nature Park, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Outside, December 18, 2017. Photos.

In response to the question, “Louis, you shoot portraits?”, I chuckled then shared the details of the shoot.
We met Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski at a nature park that set the city skyline as the background. For forty minutes we chatted with the mayor and snapped away… You can see the article by Jimmy Tobias here.

The What For – Skiing

The What For – A Labor of Love

April showers bring late season powder days. Kaylin Richardson skiing deep in the spring swing of things, Grizzly Gulch, Wasatch Range, Utah.

Since November I’ve shot more than 30,000 frames of skiing and snowboarding. Of the countless days only three were paid and the rest were done on speculation. This season a dozen images made in previous years were published in magazines and online, half a dozen were used in advertising campaigns, and the rest remain on a hard drive or two… After all the early mornings, late evenings, travel, sleeping on floors, ingesting cheap food, and bad coffee you’re probably wondering – Why shoot skiing and snowboarding?

MacKenzie Ryan drops into am untouched line in False Breaks, Cedar Canyon, Utah.

The simple answer is the snow sports industry, brands, and corresponding magazines need new imagery each and every season depicting the latest gear, destinations, and characters. Why do they need new imagery each season depicting the latest? To help drive their sales, push profits up, pay employees, contribute to the economy, etc. The more interesting question is the What For? or what’s the reason I keep doing this?

Early to bed and early to rise makes getting first tracks easy for Mali Noyes, Wasatch Mountains, Utah.

I’ve focused on shooting snow for the past decade. The first time money was involved came six years ago when I was given the opportunity to work with a brand and their ambassadors (the athletes totally saved me). Since then it’s been a roller coaster ride. Rising high by landing magazine covers, taking on editorial assignments, traveling with a production company, and being hired to create the next season’s print campaign for other brands. Then dropping low by going a full year without a single ski image published, no assignments given, and not one inquiry from a commercial client. In spite of this and operating at a loss each season I can’t seem to help myself from going out there to create more.

Lucy Sackbauer and Lani Bruntz boot up the JC Couloir, Sawtooth Range, Idaho.

Twelve years ago when I chose to cart a camera along my goal was NOT to replicate the polished and predictable images we had been inundated with. I set out to capture a more aspirational side of traveling through snow covered mountains, to come home with something you could see yourself participating in, and ultimately, share an experience that relates and resonates a quiet stillness with us all.

Luke Hinz on top of Mount Baldy, Alta, Utah, making his way to skiing all the lines mentioned in the book – The Chuting Gallery in a calendar year.

Have I done that?.. Not exactly. That’s why I keep at it year after year.

“This one’s for you.” Chris Hassig mans the backcountry beer chest, Meadow Hut, BC.

See you out there,

 

Louis

 

 

Single Track Mind – Thoughts from last summer.

The Spine, Wasatch Crest Trail, Utah. Macky Franklin chases the sun in the central Wasatch Range.

There was a three to four-year period in my life where I spent about 30 hours a week on a bike. In addition to racing at the amateur level I worked and went to school full time. I didn’t do well at any of it so eventually I eased back from the wheels and stopped shaving my legs.

A few weeks ago Osprey Packs called and asked if I would be able to create some new imagery with two of their enduro mountain bike ambassadors, Syd Schulz  and Macky Franklin. As luck would have it Syd and Macky were heading through the Wasatch on their way to a race in Sun Valley. So I offered them our spare bedroom and omelets for breakfast and they were keen.

Syd Schulz and Macky Franklin take in the central Wasatch Range from the Wasatch Crest Trail, Utah.

We planned for two rides. One afternoon would be the Crest Trail, a Wasatch classic, and the second would be a few laps riding lifts at Deer Valley Resort. This would be ample time to make the images needed.

 

I’ve been fortunate to meet through life and work people who are talented and psyched to be doing what they love. It’s worth noting that yes, they are paid to participate in their sport, but that’s only part of the picture. As with most the athletes I know the “doing of the sport” is only half of their job. Syd and Macky are no exception and are not afraid to work. As we waited for afternoon to arrive and better light Syd and Macky were busy making calls, writing blog posts, building newsletters, making travel arrangements, and sitting down with local sponsors before we finally drove up Big Cottonwood Canyon and began pedaling at 5PM.

Tis but a scratch. Macky Franklin and Syd Schulz compare trail rash, Wasatch Range, Utah.

The Crest Trail runs at high elevations and until recently had snow drifts covering large sections. Our timing was near perfect as we ran into only a couple of snow patches and the rest of the trail was free and flowy. Syd and Macky went from work mode into full-on fun mode. 25 miles and about 1,000 feet of climbing later we were enjoying burritos at the house. Smiles all around.

Syd Schulz and Macky Franklin rolling the Wasatch Crest Trail, Utah.

Before now I’ve never really given much thought to how things may have turned out had I continued riding my bike like a fiend, but now that I have I’m sure I wouldn’t get to share as many cool experiences with great people doing amazing things in wild and wide open spaces.One more note on the work ethic of athletes. The day after the Crest ride we hit the trails at Deer Valley for a few hot laps before I set Syd and Macky free to ride at their own pace for an hour or so. They had a videographer to meet that afternoon and were scheduled to shoot some clips for an upcoming edit… Obviously it’s never ending.

 

See you out there,

Louis

Thoughts from the Skin Track

Sebastien Trudeau tops out on the Fondue Bowl, Meadow Hut, Esplanade Range, BC.

March 7, 2017

Today ten things went wrong and everything else went right. It was a fantastic day! 

This was the journal entry for my fourth day at the Meadow Lodge – a backcountry hut located in the Esplanade Range of British Columbia. 14 of us were half way through our self-guided week and I was thinking about the nuances of winter backcountry travel. Snow is amazing in the fact that by its natural tendency it wants to stay put. And at the same time, it’s filled with unlimited variables, many which can lead to instabilities and movement.

Two skiers make their way back to the Meadow Hut after a day of touring, Esplanade Range, BC.

I believe the same can be said about business. How many things went wrong today at work? What went right? Navigating the business side of things is terrifying to me when I try to keep all the variables in view at once. With so many things that could go wrong it’s hard to venture out. But when you break it down and focus on the fundamentals it becomes a bit more manageable. For me it comes down to risk versus reward. What is the investment? What are the chances of return and at what level? What happens if there is no return? And can I cover the loss?

Jelibi and Caribou Peaks with corresponding slide paths, Esplanade Range, BC.

That day in the Esplanades I created a Wasatch-style skin track (f%&$@#!* steep) for no reason, pushed a line too far for comfort, didn’t bring enough food, forgot to reapply sunscreen, etc. The rights of the day; our group studied maps for safer passages, observed the terrain for recent activity, kept tabs on the weather, dug pits in the snow, communicated non-stop, drank plenty of water, we listened to each other, laughed often, had meaningful conversations, bonded, and skied powder all day long. Like I said, it was a fantastic day.

In my experience learning from what didn’t work or went wrong allows for growth, but staying focused on the positives and what went right is the key to forward momentum.

Meadow Hut Nights. A nearly full moon illuminates the hut and Cupola Mountain, Esplanade Range, BC.

This winter season has been a productive one filled with personal growth. We had ice climbing, skiing, writing, exploring, and I met a ton of new people filled with incredible energy. If you have ten minutes to burn follow this link to highlights from the last six months. As the season transitions I’m looking forward to creating new climbing, lifestyle, portrait, and running imagery as well as heading to Denali to document a ski expedition. So far it looks to be another busy season, but there’s room for more. Get a hold if me if you have any projects we could team up for.

 

See you out there,

 

Louis

 

 

 

 

Colorado National Monument May 2016

 

Why Am I Lost?

Kissing Couple Spire (Bell Tower), Monument Valley, Colorado National Monument.
Kissing Couple Spire (Bell Tower), Monument Valley, Colorado National Monument.

Desert sand, springtime lightning, rolling thunder, hail, then cold rain.

Shiho Kobayashi enjoys the view from the summit of Independence Monument, Colorado National Monument.
Shiho Kobayashi enjoys the view from the summit of Independence Monument, Colorado National Monument.

Dirty hands, sore muscles, and big smiles. Hairy scorpions, collared lizards, then injured macaws.

Northern Desert Hairy Scorpion, Colorado National Monument.
Northern Desert Hairy Scorpion, Colorado National Monument.
Ariel the macaw out for a walk in Colorado National Monument.
Ariel the macaw out for a walk in Colorado National Monument.
Collared Lizard, Colorado National Monument.
Collared Lizard, Colorado National Monument.

Blueberry pancakes, PB&J sandwiches, and red wine. Confusion, clarity, then execution. Aching bones, endless thirst, and circling contentment.

Shiho Kobayashi jumars back to the rim after climbing spires in Colorado National Monument.
Shiho Kobayashi jumars back to the rim after climbing spires in Colorado National Monument.

Silent sunrises. Whispering sunsets. I’m tired to the bone and it’s time to go home.

Sunrise over Monument Valley from Window Rock, Colorado National Monument.
Sunrise over Monument Valley from Window Rock, Colorado National Monument.

Spring Break – More Transitions

Jacki Arevalo skis springtime corn snow from the summit of Mount Tumalo, Cascade Range, Oregon.
Jacki Arevalo skis springtime corn snow from the summit of Mount Tumalo, Cascade Range, Oregon.

At the beginning of May Jacki and I traveled to Bend, Oregon where we rented a small bungalow near downtown. Having been in ski mode since December I’d been struggling with the concept of actually doing other activities. It sounds funny, but by nature I am a one sport focus kind of a guy and only by extreme effort am I able to mix things up. A vacation was the perfect time to help in the transition. Taking the lead, Jacki orchestrated each day in Bend for a different activity. Tuesday we skied, Wednesday we climbed, Thursday we mountain biked, and Friday we ran. Sounds somewhat busy right? Actually it was the exact opposite. The key was that other than those activities we had nothing else planned. This allowed for plenty of reading, writing, walking, talking, visiting friends, exploring and sleep.

The Crooked River runs through the heart of Smith Rock State Park, Oregon.
The Crooked River runs through the heart of Smith Rock State Park, Oregon.

Of course when I go on vacation there’s always a little work tied in. Since we were going to be doing all these activities I knew it would be a great chance to create new images of a place I’d never been and add to my stock archive. What do I consider a little work? It began with research and talking about some likely possibilities with Jacki, scheduling the outing for ideal lighting, doing the activity (anywhere from 2-5 hours), shooting a few frames, returning to the bungalow, downloading the files while enjoying dinner, editing, and repeating the process. Not too stressful since there was no client involved. Shot less than 100 images per outing, closer to 50 each, which for me is way low, but makes editing easier. Will any of them be money makers? Who knows? This was a great way to break away from my winter routine, which allowed Jacki and I to slow down and discover new things. – More t

Jacki Arevalo riding the Funner trail near Bend, Oregon.
Jacki Arevalo riding the Funner trail near Bend, Oregon.
California Benedict. Thinly sliced turkey breast, bacon, spinach and avocado with a bowl of fresh fruit. Victorian Cafe, Bend, Oregon.
California Benedict. Thinly sliced turkey breast, bacon, spinach and avocado with a bowl of fresh fruit. Victorian Cafe, Bend, Oregon.
A woman runs along the boardwalk on the Deschutes River Trail, Bend, Oregon.
A woman runs along the boardwalk on the Deschutes River Trail, Bend, Oregon.

All About the Powder

One of the things I can’t seem to stop doing is photographing skiing while it storms. Those of you who ski know that some of the best days ever have been storm days. More nuance than exact details the textures of the scene are subtle, but very, very telling. Chris Smith emerges from the white room.larevalo_emmamarch_0316_0012

New season

Dane Cronin takes in the view from Captn Ahab Trail, Moab, Utah.
Dane Cronin takes in the view from Captn Ahab Trail, Moab, Utah.

It’s not unusual for me to stay in complete ski-mode well into the month of May, but this year was different. By April I was beginning to feel stale on the creative front and the fact that we had such a low snow year in the Wasatch Mountains I was looking for something new to focus on. So when my friend and fellow photographer Dane Cronin invited me down to Moab, Utah for a long weekend to create a batch of new biking imagery I didn’t even have to ask about the details, I was in.

Ben Duke mountain biking Captn Ahab trail, Moab, Utah.
Ben Duke mountain biking Captn Ahab trail, Moab, Utah.

I waved farewell to wintery peaks of granite, limestone and shale and said hello to towers, walls and buttes of sandstone. Gone were the snow-covered slopes and glades of pine. They were replaced by dirt, water, and rock. Instead of sliding over a frozen surface we pedaled our knobby tires over waves of stone, along narrow trails and through rust colored talus cones peppered by twisted junipers and the faded green of sage. All beneath a tumultuous sky.

Dane Cronin riding HyMasa Trail, Moab, Utah.
Dane Cronin riding HyMasa Trail, Moab, Utah.

Halfway though our third day, while waiting out a slight drizzle, I noted the vibrancy of the blooming cacti, penstemons and paintbrush opening their petals to the drops of rain. Spring had brought a new season of growth to the desert and to me as well.

Snack time at the Slick Rock Trailhead. Dane Cronin and Ben Duke take a break between rides.
Snack time at the Slick Rock Trailhead. Dane Cronin and Ben Duke take a break between rides.
Ben Duke riding near Castle Valley, Utah.
Ben Duke riding near Castle Valley, Utah.