The digital era still has our metaphysical snow globe well and truly shaken up when it comes to snowboarding's visual media. But the question remains...
Have still images had their day in the Age of Video? We’ve asked two guys – one from each medium – to talk it out.
This first appeared in WL118.
Johno Verity has been pissing about with video cameras since long before his pro snowboarding career. He’s now the co-director of Indeed Productions.
When it comes to snowboarding, still photos can lie, whereas video always tells the truth.
During my years as a snowboarder I had eleven cover shots. Yep, you heard me right – ELEVEN. That's way more than James Stentiford, Jenny Jones, even that pipsqueak Jamie Nicholls. However, I'm going to drop a bombshell here and potentially ruin Dan Milner's reputation: I know for certain that I didn't land them all. I built my career on the simple fact that as long as you go big, grab your board and tweak the hell out of it until your hear the click, then the landings were always optional.
Yes, there are photo sequences, but you can’t detect the style unless you really study them. Arm-flailing window-winders can look like they're throwing Devun Walsh steez if their arms are at 6 o’clock in each frame. There's nothing like seeing a jump in mega-mo to show the ease with which a trick is thrown.
Then there's the other side of the lens, which is where the true art comes in. Unless you want to take out a mortgage and pay for weeks of After Effects, with video there is no touching up footage, no Photoshopping out tracks and no cleaning up dirt or snow that’s got on the lens. Getting a good shot takes a massive effort, and if it also includes a movement or tracking then that is tenfold. A filmer can never rely on auto-focus, and the sheer quantity of kit alone shows the true commitment of a filmer – as opposed to a stills photographer that waggles their hand around, holding the trigger.
Getting an impressive photograph can be achieved with a bit of luck, whereas to get a good video shot takes a master on both sides of the camera. So while I'm glad that video wasn't as important ten years ago, I think it really is the only way to showcase our sport.
Did I mention eleven?
Matt Georges is Whitelines’ favourite Frenchman. He also happens to be our senior photographer.
Any time you’re on a shoot, you always know which member of the crew you’re all going to be waiting for…
Filmers always need to bring up their heavy, shitty bag complete with tripod, dolly and the rest – like they can’t be creative without that stuff. They always cry on the way up because it’s too heavy, that the snow is too deep, and that they don’t have space for snowshoes, a shovel, or a bottle of water. They are really good at making you feel bad, so in the end you share your water and lend them your shovel. And they still call you lazy if you don’t shape! “Well, I can’t shape because you have my shovel, man." “Ah shit you’re right, here it is. Damn I’m thirsty, can I drink some of your water?"
Then once everything is ready, here’s a typical scene:
The rider yells “READDDDYYYY"
The filmer yells "READDDDYYY"
The photographer yells “READDYYYYY"
The rider yells “DROP IN FIIIIIIVVVVE"
And three seconds later the filmer yells “WAIT WAIT WAIT NOOOOO, I NEED TO CHANGE MY BATTERY"
Eventually we get a photo. Of course we make it look very good – no need to use special effects or anything, you can just get move around to find the best angle depending on the trick and push the shutter at that decisive moment – when the landscape, rider and style come together. We don’t have a shitty dolly setup, so we aren’t as limited on the creative side and don’t have to use slow-mo to make something look epic (when it usually isn’t).
The photo will be a double page in a magazine, making the rider very happy. Meanwhile the filmer didn’t get the shot and will instead use some random Go-Pro footage from the rider and add his video credit to it – because he has to pay back the cost of his Red camera and all the expensive shit he bought to film snowboarding in the backcountry.
No hard feelings filmers, we still love you. We just don’t need you to get a nice photo, but you need us to carry your water…