Humping the Shutter with Aaron Blatt

,

blatt_plant

“I learned handplants today.”-Aaron Blatt.           photo. Owen Ringwall

While playing the role of East Coast school boy, Aaron Blatt combined his love of design and photography to earn a degree, have fun and kick-start a career that has now labeled him one of the brightest young stars in snowboard photography. After graduating, this native Ice Coaster left his Burlington campus life behind for greener pastures out west. Holding Photo Editor/Primary Photographer credentials of East Coast Snowboarding Magazine Aaron impressed the boys and girls at High Cascade Snowboard Camp, landing a position as their marketing/advertising sharp shooter. Since then, the ball has just kept rolling. Aaron now access to today’s top riders, travels the world and maintains the energy and quirkiness that make him not only a joy to work with, but a great guy to have around. Aaron Blatt is headed for photography greatness, so for those that don’t know him, here’s the 101.

How did you get into photography?

I dunno, I would always go out and shoot the activities my friends and I would do–mostly snowboarding and stuff. And when I was way younger I’d get the little point and shoot film cameras from the the pharmacy and shoot my friends snowboarding or skateboarding, and I dunno, I got into it. It was just cool to me to compose a cool frame, even with a camera like that, to know it could be worth the effort and get a good picture.

What was your big break? When did you decide this is what you wanted to do?

I guess when I went to school in Vermont I got pretty psyched ‘cuz I found out that there was this scene where people were going out when it was -15 degrees outside to hit handrails and stuff. It’s fun because you come back with something. Like this golden moment of, “We got it.” After that this small east coast magazine started having my stuff run, and I started sending stuff to the editors at the time and that evolved into becoming the photo editor and that made even more moves for me.

blatt_beresford

Chris Beresford holding a steady sepia-toned press.      photo. Aaron Blatt

Why did you go to college?

I went to learn more about design. Like painting and drawing and all that stuff.

How did a photo-kid from Boston get so much published in New Zealand?

I was on study abroad there. It was sick. It was pretty fun to take classes, they offered music production and stuff. It was fun to create a bunch of shit and what not, but obviously the riding down there was super sick. It was just fun being down there in this unexplored place with friends, well unexplored to us. The best part was when five of us went in on this car, this shitty car, this awful car, kept breaking, but that was all apart of it. Did a lot of snowboarding, learned a lot of stuff, took some pictures, it was rad.

blatt_edjake_newzealandNew Zealand, land of elves, talking trees, wizards and snowboarding.  photo. Aaron Blatt

What kind of travel opportunities have your camera skills provided you?

Well I saw you in Snowbasin when I was with HCSC for a shoot with the One Life Crew girls. We knew they’d be there for Dew Tour so we went and snapped Marketing shots with the Marshmallow and stuff, that was fun. But for all time, definitely Argentina. Argentina is insane. I’ve been there a few times now. It’s the biggest culture shock, like you get down there to the first airport then you take a taxi to the next airport and everyone’s speaking Spanish and it’s just wild, and then you fly to the mountain and everything is just the same again, like I’m just shooting and riding. But the terrain is just insane and the access is incredible. What you can get to from the chair is insane.

I hear they party hardy down there in Latin America. Craziest night you’ve had in Argentina?

There’s this one club that we go down to down there, I think it’s called Pecha, it’s spelled like P-E-C-H-A, it’s logo are like these little cherries, I dunno why I remember that. Well it’s like this three-story place and well they screw you if you’re American. They make you pay more to get in, so if you know any of the locals that’s the way to go. When you get in part of your fee for getting in is a free drink, so I go to get my drink, grab it, and the bartender girl handled us truffles. I figured sweet, nice little perk or whatever. Well I didn’t drink much of my drink that night, but I remember we danced like crazy all night, ‘til like six in the morning. I dunno, they do it big down there. But don’t eat the truffles, that shit is nuts. (Editors Note: The club is spelled Pacha for those interested.)

Argentinean women, what do you think?

Sketchy! I know a couple kids who have brought Argentinean ladies back to the States, but they get there and they just want to marry you, it’s sketchy! I wanna say that you can find true love in Argentina but I dunno, it’s highly unlikely, there are some weird things going on.

blatt_cuacomanu_argentinaA sunny Argentinean sky in the background, get jealous.     photo. Aaron Blatt

So you started shooting with throw-away cameras. How important do you think equipment is?

Well there are the people that say like, “Oh shit I need a better camera.” and stuff, but fuck that. Anyone that’s anyone that’s shooting now could totally go out and get a sick shot from a disposal camera. You need so much more than equipment to make a cool photo. Like I really hate it when people ask, “Are you born with ‘the eye’ or can you learn?” Like of course you can learn, people that say you can’t, well that’s so hokey, just grab a camera and start shooting.

Influences?

Well I’ve always looked towards design work, like illustrators. People will just take the craziest angle towards shit, like when you’re just sitting there in front of a piece of paper or computer screen you can just go wild with it. You don’t have to worry about crawling under some snow or bringing water housing. There is this one online mag out of Portugal, it’s sick, I wanna give it to everyone, it’s IdeaFixa.com, check it, the stuff is insane.

What about snowboard photogs?

Well I mean I look at their work and of course their work is crazy, but I’ve been noticing how personable some guys are, like Blotto. Blotto is always all smiles and you can just tell he’s fun to work with. Like that’s what I think is a pretty central piece to being a good photographer. Cole Barash is the same way, and I definitely look up to both of their work. Those are for sure big influences for me.

Big goals, future ambitions, in your photography?

I definitely always want to shoot snowboarding, but I’m pretty psyched to branch out as well. Like I’m really into setting up or creating a scene for a lifestyle. It can be a really awkward situation, like I have this gear and these lights and we’re going to make you look cool, that’s weird, but it doesn’t have to be like that. It’s about having conversations, creating that scene and making it work. I really like the idea of creating that. It’s just different from snowboarding, like we get calls saying, “We want a vertical frame.” or, “We want some color.” but I’m really excited to start getting some real direction. When you really get into it and you know what they want and you really nail it, that’s the best feeling. That’s my goal right now.

Peter LineDear Old Pros Just Collecting Checks, Peter Line is making you look pathetic. photo. Aaron Blatt

What published work are you most proud of?

For me it’s all about the shots when I was moving up, like my first cover with East Coast was sick, I probably wouldn’t shoot the photo the same way, but it was sick, all around Burlington was this cover I shot, so sick. After that it was cool to get my first photo run down in New Zealand, and then when I got back some stuff started running in Japan and that was really sick. Like my first one was this sequence from Louie Vito from here (HCSC, Summer ‘09). I remember it was back to back with some photo by Jeff Curtis, and it had all of this Japanese text all over it, that was crazy. Seeing all the HCSC Ads in Transworld too, they’ve been cool to see.

Do any of your photos stick out as a personal favorite?

I took a picture of my friend Brendan. We went out to this weird factory in Burlington. There was this pipe thing, so I got in there and then I was shooting up and he was shooting down at me, like trying to get a shot of my in this pipe ‘cuz I probably looked like an idiot down there. So I looked up to take a picture of him and right as I went to shoot him this airplane flew right over, and it was just cool because there had to have been so much sky, and that airplane happened to fly over that spot. It was cool, because I could never have made that happen.

blatt_mikeyMike LeBlanc is a weirdo, genius, businessman and legend. What are you?    photo. Aaron Blatt

Favorite gear to shoot with?

I definitely have a couple favorite setups. I have this Mamiya that I shoot with, it’s like a 645, just a cool medium format camera. But really, when I shoot with that it ends up being stuff like friends at the lake. When I shoot snowboard stuff it’s most likely going to be digital. For all that I really like my Canon 5D, it’s the old one now, because the new one shoots video.

I see you with a 50mm prime lens often, are you secretly a Leica wanna-be?

Ha, yeah I’m always cruising with that. Like right now I don’t have my pack with me, I just have some camera body and that lens. I’m actually out shooting right now, and this lens just gives me that challenge of, “This is what I’ve got, and I’m going to make it work with this.” I like that.

blatt_grangerAre the sparks or is the facial expression the priceless moment here?   p. Aaron Blatt

Would you pick a more basic setup, or have all the bells and whistles?

I definitely like fancy shit, but recently I’ve been really into getting ghetto with it, well not ghetto, but makeshift. Like I had this opportunity to work in a studio in Vermont for a while and I would notice the photographers there would use whatever was around for the shoot. Like some intern broke a mirror and a week later I see them using sticks and broken glass to light stuff. Like who is out there breaking the bank on a reflector if these guys can do that? Like today I really wanted to shoot some high angel stuff, so I zip-tied a tripod to this piece of pvc pipe, and when I held it up it was probably 20 feet off the ground. I could probably go to a camera store and find something that would do the same thing for a hefty sum, but I built this makeshift thing and it was sick, it totally worked. Also, at that point I think it’s cool to have digital, because I wasn’t just burning through film, I could experiment and try stuff.

Do you ever get angry or frustrated while waiting in the cold for some dude to get his trick?

Na, never it’s always exciting because you know at some point this kid is going to get a make. Or if he doesn’t you know the next time you go out it’s going to be that much sweeter when he gets it. There’s always a build up, and it’s good, but I mean, you’re always going to be cold. That’s just part of it.

blatt_kylegrant1Deep in the Montana wilderness Kyle Grant let nature know who’s boss.  photo. Aaron Blatt

Have you ever used your lens to get girls naked?

Indirectly yes…

Were the girls always pretty?

No.

Were you happier that they weren’t terribly attractive?

Yeah because it’s funny.

blatt_kevinShow that angel faced champ some love in the comments section.    photo. Aaron Blatt

Craziest situation your camera has gotten you into?

Argentinean airport! I really like airplanes and things that fly, like spaceships, spaceships are sick. But yeah I was at the airport, this was the first time I was down there, and I’m shooting this photo (I still like it so it was worth it), so I’m shooting the runway, and all of a sudden this security guard, no mall cop neither, like a dude packing a machine gun (this thing could rough someone up) well this dude runs up and he’s bummed that I’m shooting photos of the runway and he’s yelling at me in Spanish with this huge gun and he’s so pissed and all I know how to say in Spanish is grilled cheese. I just sat there while he yelled at me until my friends caught on and came over to explain that I was just shooting photos, and not a spy. So I sat there deleting photos in front of him to make him happy but there was that one frame I really liked, so I did some nerd trick or something and faked him out and ended up keeping it.

blatt_tripodAaron and his make-shift super tripod hard at work filming Jurassic Park 6.   p. Owen Ringwall

Would you rather shoot for Playboy, Transworld or a big NYC Glossy Mag?

Well my Mom would hate me if I worked for Playboy, so that’s a no. Transworld, well those people are sick so that’s cool, and NYC Glossy Mags, well my friend has that locked up so I’ll leave it to him, so I guess Transworld, although I’d rather work for NASA, NASA is sick.

What advice do you have for aspiring photographers?

Just keep experimenting. Like every time you go out there is definitely something you can make happen. I don’t care if it’s so so shitty and gray out, heck I’m from the East, but there’s always a way to get a cool frame. And, then the next time you go out you have that extra know-how to get the next shot.


12 replies
  1. michaela
    michaela says:

    of course i love all of these photos because you are mastering the colab of know how to take pictures and what people want to see

  2. #1 shit face
    #1 shit face says:

    Aaron once threw everything he owned out of his 5th story apartment window, raining eternal hell fire down on their asses.. He also enjoys his Gay vacations to the florida keys with his lover Michael. Blatt is the shit

Comments are closed.