Over the last few weeks it seems like every time I check my Instagram feed I always come across at least on photo of someone already riding powder. When I’d look to see who shot the photo and almost every time it was Pete Alport. Not knowing much about the Oregon based photographer I decided to track him down and learn more about his keen ability to hunt out the early season snow as well as his thoughts on photography in general. Hit Pete with a FOLLOW and join us in constantly drooling over his adventures.
How long have you been shooting photos for and what first got you into it?
I have been shooting photos professionally for over 4 years now, video for almost 20. A particular client I was shooting video for became frustrated that I didn’t have still images from trips to the outdoors. Finally they had enough, and we worked a deal to help me get my first DSLR. From there business has grown, almost to the point where I shoot more photos than video. I still love shooting video, but my mind is focused on photos.
It seems like every year you are the first to find out where the powder is going to be in the US. How do you always know where to go?
I’m obsessed with snow, but I think I’m more obsessed with early season snowfall adventures; its raw, unexpected, and more calculated.. I study the weather constantly, I actually thought about becoming a meteorologist in college, but chose otherwise. I follow every inch of snowfall from the beginning of the season, sometimes as early as September, tip’ the end. I try to figure out how much has fallen at certain elevations and see how much has melted during the warm/rainy days. I hike a lot in the Summer and Fall, so I know where old snow/glaciers are. Old snow is a key factor in many ways to making a safe early season journey. You have to remember, a nice jump, cliff, or pow slash only requires a small amount of real estate. With old snow, 6+inches of new can make that happen. People have this misperception you need a 5ft. base to start bringing out the shovels. Remember too, we push it a little in the early season, there is no guarantee in September, any part of the year for that matter that everything will go as planned.
Are there any differences between shooting photos of snowboarding versus skiing?
There are a few differences in shooting photos of skiing and snowboarding. I understand which direction of spinning will yield an ass shot or not. I understand the grabs, so that helps too. I know a skier can step out an in-run/jump better then a snowboarder, so that speeds up the shooting process. There really aren’t too many technical differences in shooting snowboarders vs. skiers. I believe smaller features tend to yield better photos for snowboarders than skiers. I hear skiers saying, “I wish we had a go to straight air grab like a method.” Both skier’s and snowboarder’s have their advantages. Skier’s destroy me in the backcountry when touring. I think at some point I might switch to skiing when going into the backcountry to shoot; it’s faster overall, better on steeps with a heavy pack, and traversing just makes sense. After snowboarding for almost 3 decades, it might be time to mix it up here and there. I think the main difference in skiing and snowboarding overall is that their is a lot more hate from the snowboard side in the under 45 class. I truly wish the two would genuinely get along better and not just face to face. I work with both sides and the shit talking on the snowboard side about skiing can be heavy, along with how cowardly it is. Those same people will say “what up” to skiers and say negative things when only in the snowboard circle. Weak. On the ski side, drop the gangster motif in the edits, I’m not scared and neither is anyone else. Be real, not fake thug.
What advice would you give a young photographer who’s trying to make snowboard photography their career?
No real clear answer. I can say this, work, work, work! Don’t be the guy who shows up to the spot, doesn’t help dig, doesn’t help make the scene happen the night before, just comes and gets their’s and leaves. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten into arguments/fights with photographers because they are flat out lazy and all about their own (this is when I’m shooting video). They might be cool outside of the feature, but when the riders and I just dug for hours, talked all week/night about what we should do, helped fix the lip or provide supplies, spoke with authorities, managers, insurance, and all you do is show up? If you make money acting like this, I don’t care, it’s a team effort from start to finish. Work, work, work and you will earn respect and get hired back. Of course some of the selfish one’s are incredibly talented, so they end up getting work too, but the athletes don’t respect them 100%. If this job is in your dreams and your heart, you can make it happen. Burnout is tough. I’m 38 and act like I’m 18 some of the time, I think this helps restrain the burnout. Don’t get me wrong, I have bumps in the road, but I keep coming back because I think this is what I’m meant to do. The tech side of things will always be changing, but give a great photographer a shit camera and you’ve got a good chance at a great photo. Give a fresh college graduate from an art institute the top of line gear, you might get garbage. Practice doesn’t make perfect, but it definitely gets you better. No limits in photography from what I can tell.
Where do you draw inspiration for you photography from? My inspiration comes from many different avenues. The death of my mom pushes me to make her proud. The energy from the earth. The talented riders and skiers readily available to get out there and make something happen. My children, I want to show them how fun my job is, help provide for them, and give them the opportunity to be outside as much as possible. The pros growing up when I was younger. The pros today. Seeing a video or photo that blows my mind. This makes me wake up that much earlier and faster because I know I will never achieve my goals sleeping. The efforts by individuals who truly love what they do and are pushing themselves as hard as possible. Most of all I am inspired by the one simple fact in life, we will all die, don’t waste your time while your alive.
What are your plans for the upcoming season/future? My upcoming season is usually planned and unplanned at the same time. This year I plan to shoot with Josh Dirksen and a movie he is making. I plan to shoot with Sammy Carlson on his two year project. I plan to work with Mt. Bachelor on their web videos and social media. I plan to do Winterfest in Bend, OR. I plan to work with Lib Tech NAS on their web projects. I plan to work with Justin Norman on his web series. I plan to design and help build terrain park features for various companies in the Spring. I plan to build/shoot street in Bend at least once this year. I plan to work with various industry companies on one off projects. I plan to get into flashes more; it’s a scary beast. I plan to take my kids up to the mountain as much as possible. What is unplanned is exploring new zones in the NW. I have a good idea where, I just don’t know when.