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Laura Austin

decent exposure: BLOTTO

30 April 2010, 05.06 | Posted in Decent Exposure, Interview, Photography | 3 comments »

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My next guest needs no introduction… but I’ll give it to you anyway. Mr. Dean Blotto Gray is one of snowboarding’s most respected and established photographers out there. As Principal Photographer for Burton this guy spends his life on the road capturing images of some of the best riders in the game. Through basement jamz, bike missions, and time spent at homebase, I’ve been lucky enough to get to know Blotto over the past few years and the guy oozes wisdom. One of my favorite aspects to his work is that in most of his shots, you can take out the rider and it would still be a piece of art that you would want to put on the wall… His attention to detail and how he uses the environment to enhance his shots is incredible. I could go on and on, but I am not the reason you are reading this, so without further ado… I give you Blotto.

Make sure you check out his blog here. Updated almost daily with high quality content.

Read the interview after the jump.

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decent exposure: AARON BLATT

31 March 2010, 21.32 | Posted in Decent Exposure, Photography, Snowboarding | 6 comments »

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I’ve known Blatt for a few years now and he is one of the most humble/laid back photographers I know. Which is surprising for his age and the quality of his work. Only 22 and coming out of VT, Aaron has already started to make a name for himself in the snowboard world. Currently, he holds the spot as the photo editor for East Coast Snowboard Mag, on top of shooting for multiple different clients. I’m expecting big things from him in the future…. no pressure Blatt. Check out his portfolio- adblatt.com. Or follow his blog. Read the interview after the jump.

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decent exposure:MIKE BASHER

09 March 2010, 03.18 | Posted in Decent Exposure, Photography, Snowboarding | 2 comments »

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Mike Basher… this guy has a lot to say… and he should after working for Snowboard Magazine for the past six seasons. He was one of the guys who helped create the magazine and since then has gone through the ranks as photo editor and most recently, editor, of the mag. But as of January 2010, Basher took a step back from his spot at Snowboard. He decided it was time to move on since, with his new position as editor, he was spending much less time doing what he loved, shooting photos. Included in this interview are his reasons for moving on, why he thinks Colorado sucks, and his big plans for what is to come. Read the what he has to say after the jump.

To see more of his work check out his site and follow his blog.

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decent exposure: BRENDAN MCINERNEY

01 March 2010, 18.23 | Posted in Decent Exposure, Photography | 1 comment »

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My last few interviews have been based around snowboard photographers, but this interview strays away from that a bit. I met Brendan a few years back at some college party in Burlington, VT. He would always be the kid walking around the parties with a camera in his hand, snapping random shots throughout the night. I started checking out his stuff to make sure that there wasn’t anything embarrassing of me from the night before and realized the guy had talent. Since then I have been keeping tabs on him, watching his photos progressively get better, and he recently moved to New York City, where he is pursuing a career as a photographer… some might refer to this as “killin it”. Check out his site to see more of his work. TheAngryPenguin.ORG

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The man himself. Brendan McInerney.

Place you call home:

Then, Kents Hill Maine – Now, NYC

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What is it like working/coming up as a photographer in New York City? Is it a little fish, big pond situation?

New York City to me, is definitely a little fish big pond situation. I come from rural Maine, so this place is the exact opposite of home. Unless you have some serious connections here, its a wake up call in terms of making a living. The range of wealth here is also fucked up, one neighborhood is extremely poor, and down the street are multimillion dollar lofts. Plus, you might walk by someone on the street shooting with a 20,000 dollar Mamiya camera, and you can’t help but be envious. I think I just had to come to terms with the fact that we all come from various financial backgrounds, and that’s life.

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Tell me about the company you are working for now? How did you get involved with them?

Right now I’m working for Mighty Healthy. They are a skateboarding/streetwear company born and raised in NYC. The founders Ray and Denis grew up skating with some of the most respected people in skateboarding, so  legend class skateboarders are coming by all the time. My friend Kashia was working with Mighty when I came to NY to visit, and hooked me up with a gig shooting some photos for them. It was funny, she said I was just going to shoot some shirts on some of her guy friends, and then she calls me the morning of, and was like, “Oh yeah, you’re actually going to be shooting Gino”. (Iannucci). So that was wild for me. Mighty has taken me to LA, Tampa and Vegas in the last 4 months, so I really can’t complain about traveling and shooting photos of people I grew up idolizing. Like in LA, we were at a Matix clothing party, just having drinks with Mike Mo (Capaldi), Jeron (Wilson), Mike (Carrol), Vance (Capaldi) and Guy (Mariano). And you realize they’re just skate kids like you, they’re just fucked up good at skateboarding. It’s hard to imagine meeting these guys, let alone shooting the shit with them, when you’re 13 skating flat ground in the middle of Maine, that’s all.

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You went to Champlain College (in Burlington, VT) for graphic design right? Is your education you received there relevant to what you are doing now? You happy you went?

I am very happy I went to Champlain, I have some amazing friends I owe to that place. At Mighty I am the head photographer and the second graphic designer, and *personally*, I think the education I got from Champlain is completely relevant to what I am doing now. I say “personally” because I know people that say college was a waste of money and time, but realistically it comes down to how much you’re going to apply yourself afterwards. I mean look at kids like Aaron Blatt and Laura Austin, you don’t see them bitching about how unfair college was, because they are too busy working their asses off doing what they love. “If the winds not blowing, row your fucking boat.”

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You came out of an area (Burlington, VT) where most kids who wants to be photographers turn to snowboarding, what led got you interested in shooting fashion?

I think its fair to say that people shoot what they care about, and over time what they care about changes. My interest in photography has always been in people, and people do all kinds of wild shit, they skateboard, they snowboard, they dress up in all kinds of outfits. I just like learning about new stuff, and I didn’t know anything about fashion before I came here. Its pretty crazy…A good example would be The X Games and Project Runway. They both do almost no justice to the things they are making a profit from (as far as exposing what it is really all about). I mean, how many people know who Shaun White and Tony Hawk are, but have never heard of Scott Stevens or PJ Ladd?

Photo with the best story behind it:

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A few months ago I was shooting a party at some ballin ass club in midtown Manhattan. There were big ol patron bottles and champagne popping off at like 3 am (Aaron Blatt would have loved it). And somewhere in this jungle of thick beats and lights, some girls got their drinks knocked to the ground, complete with shards of glass etc. And instead of getting all pissed the girls’s friends just threw down their glasses and started that infamous dance-off type circle. I figured at least 5 people were going to the hospital, but they just didn’t give a shit, and just went nuts. So this photo was in the heat of that moment…

Some say print is dying… do you agree?

Nah, have something you made printed, it looks cooler.

Natural Sunlight or Flashes?

You gotta understand both, but natural sunlight is the best, no question.

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Black and White or color?

Black and White.
Everyone can already see in color.

What’s your favorite thing to shoot?

Anything pushing perfect geometry, be it women, sports, nature or architecture

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The most played out thing in photography right now-

The Holga camera, and wasting Polaroid film
(unless you are Gerry Webber)

Favorite photographer outside of snowboarding:

I have a few…
Robert Doisneau -life
James Nachtwey -war
Federico Erra – women

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Do you think that people either have a good eye or they don’t…. or can someone learn how to become a good photographer?

This is a hard one. Like with sports, I think you need to have something deep in your brain that just understands it, because if you don’t it will show, no matter how many classes you take. With that said, I know tons of people who would be amazing photographers, but they just never got into it…

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What kind of projects are you working on now?

I’m actually trying to shoot skating more. There’s so many good skaters in New York, it seems dumb not to bring my camera when we go skate. I’m also trying to shoot some fashion/modeling type stuff. It’s good to learn about all sides of you craft.

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What’s next?

Try and take better photos, and do more photo work so I can get a house in NYC where all my idiot friends can come stay…

decent exposure: OLI GAGNON

03 February 2010, 08.19 | Posted in Decent Exposure, Snowboarding | 2 comments »

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Oli Gagnon is a force to be reckoned with. Coming out of Canada, not only is he a senior photographer for Snowboarder Magazine, but he runs a mag of his own. It makes sense, after shooting all season and having all these left over shots that weren’t used. But Oli isn’t filling up his magazine with “B” roll shots…. “At Slash I usually get the leftovers from all the photographers; stuff that none of the big US mags and Canadian mags are using. And it’s all super sick stuff! My goal is to just make a magazine that will be sick, legit action at all times, no bullshit, no milking it. A magazine by snowboarders, for snowboarders.” Oli said in a previous interview. With that being said, I give you Oli Gagnon…

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Oli’s Self Portrait

Place you call home: Squamish, BC and Quebec

Some say print is dying… do you agree?

Definitely not. Its like film, it will always be around. I think its just gonna get more selective on what will be printed and what will be online. Like news papers and all  those kinds of publications that people just throw in the trash after reading every day.

20090324-alaska-wille_yle-luoma-0290Wille Yli-Luoma

What’s your favorite thing to shoot?

Snowboarding, skateboarding, live music, people

Photo with the best story behind it:

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This is a photo of DCP doing a bs720 in Juneau, Alaska last spring. It’s a pretty basic photo when you first look at it but it means a lot to me.  This photo is the very last photo I shot before a huge avalanche took Absynthe’s filmer Justin Hostynek and I down a big bowl. Probably the scariest moment I’ve ever experienced in my life. I seriously thought I was done when I looked up and saw the huge chunks coming down my way.  I lost my snowboard, my camera bag, my jacket and went for a hell of a ride. Justin’s camera got taken down as well and he lost his board and got a crazy beating too. It was crazy. Fortunately everybody was ok but it was a real close call. After looking around we were able to dig out the camera and my camera bag. I couldn’t believe it.  I literally cried after everything was over and I saw that everybody was ok. I really hope this will never happen to me again I am really thankful that things didn’t go worse that day. When you look closer at that photo of DCP, you can see a sun reflection on the nose of his board that looks just like a star. In all my years of shooting I’ve never seen that happen in any of my photos before. That might sound cheesy but I kinda feel like this was some sort of sign… like a lucky star looking over us or something haha!

The most played out thing in photography right now:

In snowboard photography?? Shooting “planned out” covers. And making snowboarding look stupid. Photographers that try to tell riders what to do and/or refuse to shoot some stuff. Photographers that don’t know enough about snowboarding to tell if a trick is good or not and send in bad photos to magazines. And the worst are the magazines that run those photos. Photoshopping  photos so they’re perfect. I don’t want to vent too much but for some reason I feel like the list goes on and on and on…..

20090120-toronto-max_legend-21-oligagnon©Max Legend

Favorite photographer outside of snowboarding:

This is a hard one.. there’s so many amazing photographers out there…. Snowboarding is nothing really…. When you look at dudes like Ansel Adams it just blows my mind. Photos that he shot 60 years ago with a 4×5 camera that are incredible. I also really like Brian Gaberman and Daniel Harold Sturt. They’re sick skate photogs.

20090208-minnesota-ben_bilocq-jonas_michilot-0001Jonas Michilot

Do you think that people either have a good eye or they don’t…. or can someone learn how to become a good photographer?

I definitely think its something you have or don’t. You can always learn the photo techniques in school and be a “competent” photographer, but if you don’t have the eye I guess its harder. The way I see it is that I think a good photographer can make it happen and shoot a good photo, but a great photographer just lets it happen and gets the moment…

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What kind of projects are you working on now?

The main project I am working on right now is my magazine, “Slash snowboardmag”. It’s  distributed in Canada in French and English, 3 times a year.

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You’re a senior photographer for Snowboarder Magazine as well… how do you balance that and your magazine Slash?

I’ve been working with those guys (Snowboarder Mag) for almost 7 years now, so it’s kinda like a big family. When I told Pat I was gonna start my own magazine in Canada he was actually stoked on the idea. I’m not trying to be in competition with anybody, and plus I think there is room for another Canadian magazine (published in French) since the scene is so big here… And also, Snowboarder only runs a really small percentage of all the photos I shoot during the winter, so I needed to find a way to get all those photos out there so the riders get stoked.

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Natural Sunlight or Flashes?

It all depends of the situation you’re in… I suppose a good photographer should be able to shoot a good photo in any situation and not limit himself.

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Black & White or color?

Everything. You just gotta make sure you choose the  right one for the right situation.

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What’s next?

Print more magazines,  record a new record with my band, skate, learn new songs on the guitar, shoot more photos, travel, enjoy every minute of my life, SHRED.

decent exposure: BEN BIRK

28 December 2009, 04.04 | Posted in Decent Exposure | 1 comment »

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It’s normally the people in front of the camera that are in the spotlight, so I decided to start a series of interviews with the people behind the lens.  I’m kicking it off with Ben Birk. I first met Birk when he came to Stowe, VT to work as the photo editor of East Coast Snowboard Magazine in 2007. He was a wild kid straight out of Pennsylvania. Birk is very opinionated and isn’t afraid to say whatever comes to mind… which makes being around him very entertaining. But when it comes to photography he buckles down and makes things happen, I’ve been seeing more and more of his photos make their way into the bigger magazines. Keep your eye out for this one.

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The man himself, Ben Birk. Photo: Jonas Michilot

Place you call home:

Summer- Harrisburg, PA  Winter- Tahoe, CA

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Rider- Nick Poohachoff

Did you become a snowboard photographer because you wanted to be a pro rider but weren’t good enough?

Kinda.  When I was young kid I used to believe in god.  I was riding a little factor x ramp that my friends had and was trying frontside 180 off it.  I could not stick them for my life.  I prayed to god that If I landed the next one I tried that I should be a pro snowboarder.  I went down and ate shit hard.  Hiked up again and prayed if I should be involved in snowboarding somehow that I would land the next try.  I went down and stomped a fs 1.

So your whole career was based off of landing a frontside 180?

That was just a funny story that kind of what made me realize I suck at tricks.  I had always had some interest in photography and once I was in 11th grade and eligible for photo class I signed right up.  The class was during the winter and I was riding every night so why not shoot some photos of snowboarding for my class.

Photo with the best story behind it:

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This is a place on the east coast called Cousin Eddies.  It’s really unique and requires three hours of hiking through an abandoned coal mine that is not open to the public.  I had never hiked so far and had to push really hard to make it the last mile.  Each rider took their turn down but the last rider down caused an avalanche and was buried up to his shoulders at the base of the slope.  We did not have beacons and were so lucky he was not totally buried.  This photo just represents my first backcountry experience, hiking, avalanche, and adventure.  It’s one of my favorites even though it’s now three years old.

Some say print is dying… do you agree?

I don’t know, I was raised during the time of the internet and dying editorial freedom.  Is it dying or just changing?  Changing for the worse editorially I think we can agree upon.  As for print vs online I know I personally LOVE holding magazines and books.  I would never read a magazine online.  I like to look, feel and smell it.

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Rider- Luke Haddock

Black & White or color?

Both.  I don’t like to limit myself.

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What’s your favorite thing to shoot?

People.

The most played out thing in photography right now-

Going to school to be a “Photographer.”

Why do you say that?

The whole “I’m a photographer” hipster, flickr, myspace, bullshit.  I just hate how it’s like everyone wants to be a photographer, fashion designer, rapper, music producer, rock band, MTV SUPER STAR.  I mean VH1 had a reality TV show/contest about being a photographer called “The Shot”.  It’s all just gotten really lame.  Plus why do you have to go to school to learn an art.  Fuck that.  Go to school to learn how to run a business so your not broke when you are 40.

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Rider- Will Bateman

Favorite photographer outside of snowboarding:

Diane Arbus

Do you think that people either have a good eye or they don’t…. or can someone learn how to become a good photographer?

Anyone can take a good photograph just apply some rules.  All I ever use is rule of thirds. lol

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What kind of projects are you working on now?

Winter – Hike and shoot powder is #1.  Shoot Hasselblad is #2

Summer – There’re some cults that live around my town.  I want to photograph them.  One is a sex cult and the other I know nothing about.  I really hope they are something that scares people.  Some devil worshipers would be great!  I can only hope.

Do you think they will be alright with you shooting photos of them or are you going undercover? Do you plan on joining in?

It will not be an undercover operation.  As long as they are not racist or violent I plan on befriending the group and becoming accepted by them.  I will not be judging them but there to take portraits and photos of their life.  I am fascinated by people who are shunned or separate from “normal” society.  If i agree with what the group is about then maybe I will join.  I have to find out what they are first.

Natural Sunlight or Flashes?

Thats like saying film or digital.  Both have their times of use.  You have to decide whats best for the situation.  You can’t limit yourself.

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Rider- Justin Mullen

What’s next?

Continuing to find a way to live my life as free as possible.

Check out more of Birk’s work at www.benbirkphoto.com