Behind the Scenes of Snowboarder Issue 2…


Issue 2 of Australian-New Zealand Snowboarder has been out for a couple of weeks now, and it was a productive issue for me, including another double-page-spread advertisement for Destyn Via. This time the photo was of Cohen Davies taken on the June Mountain stair rail. Here’s the original shot, which you can see has been cropped a bit, I guess to enlarge Cohen and his DV gear.

It was great that Linton from DV was willing to negotiate to purchase another photo, instead of just re-running the Darragh photo – not only did it give Cohen a big exposure boost, but it advertises some other “colourways” of the gear and shows the breadth of their team…and it was nice to see they spelt my name correctly this time! Check out my previous entry here and Olliepop Films’ video of our trip here.

On that same June Mountain trip two photos I took of Darragh made it into his 7 page interview that I conducted with him. The above shot is a slightly alternate angle of his June rail switch frontside boardslide, but the one published had better style. While discussing the upcoming interview with Darragh and living with him and his constant lolly munching, we came up with the idea to highlight this unusual habit in the text, and top it off with a themed portrait shot.

One rainy night at the end of our season we drove all around trying to find a candy vending machine, and finally spotted one out the back of the Tahoe Inn next to the Tahoe Biltmore Casino in Stateline. We snuck in and set up the shot…and of course got hassled by a few curious residents, but fortunately weren’t stopped by any rent-a-cops.  It’s a shame there’s some shadow across Darragh caused by his arm and hair, but with only about 5 minutes to set up the scene and lighting and shoot a few frames before we felt we would be boosted, we didn’t have time to check every frame. But we did manage to capture the feel for the shot that we wanted, and I liked how the magazine designer ran with our theme and gave the article some candy-cane flair.

I also thought my 8 page interview with Courtney Phillipson and Jess Rich looked good and came together as a good light-hearted read. As I mentioned in my previous post about shooting the girls in Tahoe, as a visual theme for the article I had envisaged it to be all about mirror images, reflections, and like I said in the intro: “Brunette vs blonde, goofy vs regular, experienced pro-rider vs pro-ranks rookie, measured confidence vs all-out fearlessness.”

I had planned to shoot as many features as possible from opposing angles, as I had a photo layout in mind. I even sent through some Photoshopped arrangments of the photos side-by-side, which I was pleased to see the magazine designer applied when putting the pages together. I think it really captures the mirror-image action theme I was going for…however, they failed to follow my suggestion for a slightly saucy/creepy/arty reflection-in-a-mirror portrait shot.

Perhaps the artisitc references for my unusual portrait shot would have been lost on the Aust-NZ Snowboarder reading public? Diego Velazquez’s 17th century painting Las Meninas is the original famous artwork to place the artist eerily within the frame, along with intriguing dark figures and mirror reflections, giving the artwork an overall feeling of unease.

More recently, the revolutionary Aussie-German fashion photographer icon, Helmut Newton, often used mirrors in his work, placing his reflection in the frame as a sort of creepy voyeur in a trench coat, or all in black like here in a hotel room with his wife Alice Springs. This was my true photographic inspiration, and it was fun to try and recreate this sort of image with Jess and CP, and I made reference to the unusual photo shoot in the interview in the hope the shot would make it into the mag. But alas, Evil Editor decided that Snowboarder was not a proper place for some art history education.

But I’m not the only one who has been inspired by Newton and his use of mirrors – TopShop in the UK even set up a “Newton Machine” photo booth to recreate his self-timer and model-in-the-mirror shoots. Check it out here.

A couple of my Vancouver 2010 Olympics photos of Torah Bright made the issue, but I believe the bulk of the action shots will run some time on the magazine website.

But the biggest thrill for me in this issue was my quarter-page self-portrait pow slash from Northstar that ran on page 17! I think this is the second action shot I have featured in among the pages of Snowboarder over the years. Dragon get good exposure with their goggles in this shot, but unfortunately for Nitro, I had split the nose of my board out at Donner the previous day and was riding an old loan board while my Nitro “Team” 159 was being repaired. But maybe I should still try to claim a photo incentive payment from Dragon?

For this shot I was inspired by a couple of Frode Sandbech point-of-view covers I had seen overseas, and I played around a few times with my 15mm fisheye and motor-drive as I followed the girls down through the park while shooting them for their interview. Clearly I’m not the only one who had noticed Frode’s shots – take a look at the cover of issue 2 of Snowboarder if you haven’t seen it on the shelves. This shot from a previous blog entry was another POV experimentation from the same session.

I was able to thank Evil Editor, Ryan Willmott, in person for putting me in his magazine, as he came up to the Gold Coast for a week to finish off issue 3 in the Burleigh Heads HQ of the publishers Morrison Media. He was pretty stoked to show me his new free ride, a stickered-up Toyota Rav 4. It was cool to check out a bit of the behind the scenes of magazine publishing, and get a preview of issue 3, which has our Los Angeles trip in a big, colourful feature article…and also pick up a few free mags. Look out for that issue on the shelves very soon…and take a look at some shots below from my visit to Morrison’s head office.


Make love to the camera!

I was doing some general Facestalking a couple of days ago and came across this inspiring video in the Newsfeed. It’s 17 minutes long, but if you like fashion photography…and naked supermodels, then definitely check it out:

Here’s one of the shots from the 2010 Pirelli Calendar…one of the only 2 that actually has tyres in it, in case you were wondering what Pirelli actually sell!

Click here to see full Pirelli Calendar.

It’s interesting to see that there are three aussies in this calendar, one of whom I spied years ago at the Cox Plate when she was being heralded as the Next Big Thing. Abbey Lee Kershaw certainly stood out, tall, lanky and dolled-up, but blended into the bogan crowds of footy-head mates around her, all drinking Carlton Draught from plastic cups at the trashy main bar at Moonee Valley – she was striking, in a weird sort of way, but the bogan strine sort of killed it for me and it was impossible to imagine that she would one day become the face of Chanel.

Back to my interest in fashion photography. A few years ago, when I was just forming the thought in my mind to try to make a living from snowboard photography I was killing time in Paris at the Virgin Megastore underneath the Louvre and came across a photography book called TerryWorld emblazoned with a weird-looking bespectacled and tatooed naked dude lying across its cover. I had no idea who this guy was, but was blown away by the crazy life he tried to capture in his book: lots of naked (male and female) models and pornstars…and unfortunately, lots of photos of him naked too. I couldn’t believe this freak was a fashion photographer. Intrigued, I wanted to find out more about Terry Richardson.

Like what Helmut Newton started doing in the 60’s and 70’s, Richardson really pushes the boundaries of what is considered art and what is considered pornography, while still managing to sell clothes and luxury products. But whereas Newton took on a more Hugh Hefner/Monaco aesthetic, Richardson is all about Hustler/Vice Magazine-style trash. I guess from a photography point of view, they are not technically amazingly constructed photos, but I think it’s his ability to capture a moment of the model’s spontaneity, and bring a huge amount of sexiness to help sell a product which sets him apart from the rest. He has an amazing ability to get his models to throw aside their inhibitions in front of the camera, even getting a New York Magazine reporter to do so while she was doing an article about him. Read it here and here.

What I like about Richardson’s work (besides all the naked girls) is the simplicity of his photos. Whilst fashion photographers (and snowboard photogs too) get more and more complicated with elaborate lighting setups, Richardson “keeps it real” and spontaneous, letting the model show some life and character. He was known for just using simple instamatic film cameras to take all his shots, and so for me it was interesting to see in the Pirelli video that he had a phanlanx of assistants around him, yet still only used a simple Nikon DSLR with either a hotshoe-mounted flash, or the flash jig-mounted close to the lens to replicate the look of his old instamatics. 

To see more of Terry Richardson’s commercial and editorial work check out this site. (Mario Testino is another worth checking out on the ArtPartner page.)

Some of the influence Richardson has can be seen in the blatant style rip-off by American Apparel’s ads. Check out the rest of that crappy brand here.

On my last trip to New York before this year (I think back in 2007) I actually saw Terry Richardson walking his dog and chatting to locals out the front of the Starbucks in SoHo. I had one of those “star-dazzled” moments – I wanted to go and chat to him, but had no idea what to say without sounding like a dork.

 While on the topic of fashion photography, check out this scene with the supermodel Veruschka from Michaelangelo Antonioni’s epic movie about the Swinging 60’s in London, Blow Up. I guess even back in 1966 photographers were asking the models to make love to the camera…

But maybe Richardson has been taking this all too far, as a month ago a series of models came out and accused Richardson of sexually harassing them and pressuring them into performing various sex acts while on photo shoots and surrounded by assistants. I know that Richardson will often get nude himself and give the camera to the model to shoot him nude in order to lighten the atmosphere, but it’s a bit like sexual harassment in the workplace, or the old Hollywood casting couch. While some may argue it comes with the territory of nudity and cameras, or it’s just the way Richardson works, clearly some models feel pressured to do whatever he says because of his importance within the fashion industry, much like a secretary might feel obliged to sleep with the boss to get a promotion out of the typing pool, a la Mad Men. That sort of stuff went out with the 80’s.

So there’s a big of a debate going on now as to whether Richardson has either broken the law, merely done something wrong, or done nothing wrong at all and everyone has just always known he is pretty creepy. But no matter the actual outcome, I’ve lost a fair bit of respect for him.

Check out some articles and blogs (with comments by those affected) here and here.

Maybe Richardson had been influenced too much by this other scene from Blow Up ? (Just to set up what happens here, the wannabe models are hassling David Hemmings to be let into his studio and they force their way through the door – you can watch what happens next – then afterwards he kicks them out, and when they ask about getting their photos taken, he says “Come back tomorrow. Maybe.” – What a Classic!)

But getting back to Richardson, maybe it’s as my bogan mate Abbey Lee says: “Terry doesn’t force girls to do anything they don’t want to. He puts you in a G-string in a pile of mud because you want to do it. You touch yourself because you want to. For me, that shoot (for Purple Magazine) was the truth about how things were between us both, and I felt good doing it. I’m not ashamed of it — why should I be?”

And on that note…“Look! I’m not even shooting you. It’s crazy…And I’m spent.”