Anatomy of a Photoshoot


So you want to be a pro snowboarder. Come on now, you know you do. And why wouldn’t you? You can spend the first years of your career broke and getting screwed over by your sponsors. Then once you get big enough and start making money, everyone will hate you for being successful. It’s a dream job really! But in all seriousness, there are worse ways to make a (meager) living, and if the dream ever comes through for you, you can plan on annual photo shoots.

After the trade shows end, most companies gather their team in one location, cover them in samples and spend a few days getting the shot for catalogs, ads, magazine content, you name it. This season, the lovely ladies of Nikita Outerwear headed to the sunny shores of the Great Salt Lake to get it done. Somehow, I tricked them into letting me tag along to make daily videos.

Day 1: Brighton, Utah

The team was staying in a lovely subdivision called Riverton, which according to the rental agency was “20 minutes to the mountain.” While it was close to Ikea and all the other comforts of home, the “mountain” was at least an hour away. The first morning when the girls were roused at 7, gray skies and a report calling for “weekday night riding conditions” greeted us. The good news though, was after we traveled for what seemed like forever through canyons full of fog, we were greeted with snow. Tons and tons of falling (and much needed) snow.

Though it wasn’t ideal for getting the shot, almost a foot of snow fell throughout the day. We explored the resort, scoping out spots to shoot the next day and enjoying faceshots-a-plenty. It was a good warm up, and since this year Nikita’s sample size was small, it gave the girls a chance to stretch out the pants. Safe snowboarding took a backseat to first tracks, so there were a lot of mid run collisions and having 20-some people trying to ride together didn’t help either (but at least everyone was wearing bright colors!)

Day 2: Brighton, again


Getting up at 7 wasn’t as difficult on day 2, as we knew exactly what was waiting for us at Brighton. We impressively made it to the mountain by 9:30, where it was still gray, but blanketed in two feet of snow.

After trying to ride in a massive unit the day before, the girls were divided into 3 groups, two with photographers, and one for filming. I choose to head off with the “gummy bears” and photographer Alex Mertz. We’d figured out “Milli” was the place to start and took one run to scope things out. The snow was deep and remarkably heavy, but there was no shortage of cool stuff to ride at Brighton.

The biggest problem we encountered was the gnarly localism, and random kooks who would try and barge through where we were set up shooting to catch 3 inches of air and almost take us all out. We weren’t the only crews out to get the shot on the day, which would turn out to be perfectly sunny by early afternoon. I laughed as we ran into the Team Thunder crew, Dinobots, and even E Stone from Tech Nine. But the gummy bears, consisting of Jordie Karlinski, Kara Rennie and Madison Blackley actually turned out to have the most productive day of all the crews for Nikita anyway. Go team!

Day 3: The Canyons


The Canyons is sort of like the bastard child of Park City, and not a place you’d probably ever go. But I was excited because I assumed they’d treat us like queens. I mean, who thinks to shoot at the Canyons! Well, unfortunately the person who was stoked on trying to market the mountain for snowboarding last season no longer works there, as the first cluster fuck was getting tickets. With 20 2-for-1 passes in hand, Kelly Stoecklien was forced to actually buy some tickets so we could ride the 4 lifts it took to even get to the park.

We were lucky to have Canyons local Alice Gong in our group, Team Wolf Cry, but we stuck to the park anyway. Madison Blackley, Gabby Maiden, Maribeth Swetkoff and Magalie Dubois rounded out the group. I will give Canyons some credit for a creative and perfectly maintained park, but man, shooting in the park was boring. The girls got some tricks, and we got a few shots, but aside from Maribeth’s giant backside 180 up the step up, this day is mostly memorable since I got the worst goggle tan I’ve had since I was 16.

Day 4: Park City


Since the Canyons didn’t feel like hooking up passes, and there is only do much you can do with park shots, we opted to just jet further up the road to Park City (who also didn’t hook it up, but what can you do?) Filmer Ben Fee had been given the honor of naming the teams and had come up with “Parrot Carrots” for our crew of Kara, Gabby, Alice, Maglie and Sabrina Kusar this day. I was scared it might be another day of jib tricks in the park, but the crew was down to explore. We ended up on at least one endless mogul run, but found some old mining buildings with tons of possibilities.

We posted up in one area with a few bomb drops, a roof jump and a dirt patch that seemed promising for most of the day. Magalie turned out to be part monkey, climbing and jumping off whatever, and getting the most shots of the day. As we were being ridiculously productive, we took it upon ourselves to rename ourselves the jib ponies, and proceeded to hit a giant tree jib and one more sketchy mini structure before the day was over.

Once the lifts closed, we rallied to one of the various played-out jib spots of Park City. The ledge, which is part of some sort of recreation complex, gave us a half hour more riding and a couple shots before we were kindly asked to leave and called it a day.

Day 5: The Streets


Some of the girls wanted to head back to Park City and ride pipe and a quarter pipe at the resort, but Magalie had scoped out about 15 insane street spots as well. Though last year I retired from shooting mini shred, I figured it was more interesting than shooting pipe, so I headed off with Mertz, Gabby, Sabrina, Alice, Kelly and Magalie to check them out. You may have seen the YoBeat report of Poaching Deer Valley last week. Well this was just like that. We went nowhere near the resort, but even without trying to board the lift, we were basically vibed out of the rich, white ski town where segregation is alive and well.

We drove around checking tons of spots ranging from giant drops, to ledges, to cliffs, all of them looking incredible. After a few minutes of thinking, “why doesn’t everyone shoot here” it became abundantly clear. Two hits at the first spot and we were told we were “giving snowboarding a bad name” and that “we should have just asked.” It probably didn’t help that Magalie kept calling the dude a douche bag, but what can you do. We went to scope a cliff and got the cops called on us before we even strapped in.

Discouraged but not dissuaded, we decided to go hit a wall ride some of the other girls had ridden the day before in Park City. We spent a few minutes chopping up the icy runway, and then started hitting it. But almost as soon as Magalie had stomped the shit out of a frontside wall ride, an official looking truck pulled in. The guy got out and said, “You guys don’t want to go to jail do you?” We didn’t so we moved along.

Next idea was the check out the skatepark, but it was also on lock down. We considered poaching, but the foot-high ledge with a kicker already built didn’t seem that sweet. We entertained ourselves with the bike sculptures for a bit, Gabby did a performance piece, and then we decided to grab some coffee. After some down time, we all realized it had been a long week, and we were all ready to go home. All, except Alex and Gabby. They’d hatched a plan to jib a garbage can in a city park.

Everyone else sat in the car as they hacked at the dirty snow banks to build a little kicker. Even with a half hour of construction, the drop in was basically retarded. After 45 minutes of “figuring it out” Gabby finally got the 360-tap she was going for. Alex got the shot (obviously) and we concluded another productive day.

To wrap up the week, Kelly had hired a sushi chef to cook food for everyone. 91 bottles of “real” Sapporo, sake, plumb wine and Asahi filled the fridge. Before we knew it, the house was full of people. Some we knew, such as Laura Hadar, Jarad Hadi and Pat Fenelon, but most we didn’t. In fact, I am not sure where most of them came from, since no one else seemed to either. There was drinking, there was eating, there was plenty of dancing to Beyonce’s “Single Ladies.” It was pretty neat that Nikita let me come, and I must say, I can’t think of a better way to spend a week in Utah. I also learned another important lesson about being a pro snowboarder. If you are going to go for it, it pays to be female! (Not literally, but girls have way more fun, and get to say how cute everything is!)

7 replies
  1. Forrest Gladding
    Forrest Gladding says:

    Thats funny about the Canyons not hooking it up for you guys. I use to shoot photos for their website and promo ads. Their marketing dept has their head so far up their asses its not even funny. They wouldnt even hook up tickets for me and my crew who was in all the photos. I would have my crew clip tickets, then shoot them and then give the Canyons the photos. I got sick of clipping tickets to get the shot done and eventually left on bad terms.

  2. steven
    steven says:

    i am so impressed with how good these girls are at snowboarding. wow, no wonder they are professional boarders

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