The Getty Guide to Snowboard Photography

If there’s one thing you can count on when it comes to mainstream coverage of snowboarding, it is epic guy-in-the-sky shots. People flailing haplessly through the air, captured at the exact moment they look the absolute worst. So how does every AP and Getty photographer manage to get the exact same amazing images year after year? They follow these rules. Read up if you would like to have any sort of chance of shooting snowboarding photos yourself someday.


Rule 1: Get Close

Nothing piques the viewers interest of a close up of something that is obviously far away, so zoom in! This up close and personal approach enables the viewer to feel like they truly have a front row seat at the Games, and also eliminates any distracting background noise or unnecessary context.


Rule 2: Make sure the rider is not grabbing, and preferably upside down

Occasionally snowboarders will touch their snowboard midair. This is not when you want to capture the image, because it is a stagnant moment in an otherwise action-packed maneuver. When snowboarders are pictured with their arms out in the air, it is clear that they are in the middle of something very difficult. It also adds excitement and movement to your composition and screams, “this guy is crazy!” That’s the kind of material that sells papers, people.


Rule 3:  No Context is Key

With the addition of disciplines in snowboarding such as slopestyle, it’s important that photos lack the obstacle from which the snowboarder sprung. This enables the photo to be used while talking about any type of snowboarding. Is he in the halfpipe? Is he on a jump? Who cares, all that matters is he’s obviously catching air.



Rule 4: Timing

Get creative. Shoot the drop in. This moment defines the riders success from that point on in the run. Therefore it tells a story.  Or better yet, capture the explosive moment where the rider is going up the lip, long before they will perform their stunt. It’s a moment of anticipation and focus. A moment that should be captured. The entire story can be told with the drop in or up the lip photo.


Rule 5: Everything is a sequence

You have no idea what you’re looking for, so start rattling off on the shutter the moment they drop. With 400-some odd photos of a 20 second run, you’re bound to get that super tight in shot of extreme athleticism you’re looking for. Never mind that the professional snowboard photographer next to you only shot one frame. He has no idea what he’s doing.


Rule 6: When a rider is knocked out or broken, shoot more

This is where you can really capture the prize. The carnage. A seasoned snow photographer might be too attached to the subject to to disrespect his peril with shutter clicks. While that guy is checking on his friend, go for the front pager. After all, your audience wants to see two things: people going upside down, and people in serious distress. Capture that distasteful moment of anguish. Put your morals aside. Click away. This is akin to war photography, and you’re one step from the Pulitzer. Yes, team managers and other athletes will call you an asshole and potentially kick your photo-vest-wearing journalistic ass, but you got the shot.



The NooB’s Guide to Snowboard Photography

It’s getting to be well into the New Year, and the n00b is looking for a change. Not in the hopeful promises of a new president kind of change, but a personal major life event kind of change. It’s also tax season, and the n00b realizes he’s one poor motherfucker. Not like, food stamps and two crack babies poor, but as Seth Rogen put it so eloquently in “Knocked Up,” the n00b eats a lot of spaghetti. The logical conclusion, of course, is to win the lottery. But the n00b hears that’s a pretty difficult game to win. So after some careful consideration, we found a way easier job.
Snowboard photography.

But other than what we’ve gleaned from all our research, we really don’t know much about being a pro-level shooter. So the n00b went to the largest compendium of top-notch digital imagery available: Getty Images. With one search for “snowboarding” and an eye for detail, here’s what the n00b learned from Getty — and what kind of photo crash course would be complete without photos to back up the lessons?

Lesson 1: Context


First things first, one of the most important lessons the n00b learned: CONTEXT RUINS A GOOD SNOWBOARD PHOTO. This may seem like a no-brainer, but we didn’t know this rule. You snowboarders and your crazy rules! Keep all evidence of a take-off, landing, or really anything but the snowboarder and some nifty background stuff out of your pictures.

Lesson 2: Tricks

trick_not_required_2 Tricks aren’t necessarily required. Also, be sure to avoid those times when the rider is holding on to their board.

Lesson 4: It’s All About the Sky


What IS necessary in a top-tier snowboard photo is a very pretty sky. The truer the blue, the more American you are, and god-dammit, the n00b loves America. (Well, mostly, as of late.) And apparently, snowboarding loves a good, blue, American sky.

Lesson 5: Framing


Framing the shot is key. Photographers use the “rule of threes.” Now, the n00b always took that to mean one shouldn’t try to bone more than three girls at any given time. (We just thought photogs got a lot of poon-tang.) What it actually means is you divide the frame up into three groups and try to put the object of your photo into one of those frames to emphasize them. In this example, we see the man falling from the sky, the jump from which a snowboarder might jump, and the large take-off ramp. Notice we see no landing. What do you think this is, the rule of fuckin’ fours? Read rule number one. Jesus, pay attention in class for once.

Lesson 6: Timing


Now, when shooting a trick (remember, they’re optional in a good snowboard photo, so don’t strain yourself), be sure to always get the beginning or very end of the trick. That’s when the rider is most focused — it’s do or die time.

Lesson 7: Logos are Key


At events, the sponsors are the ones making sure you get to party like a rock star and eat all the hors d’oeuvres you want. Show them some love by getting as many of their logos in your photo. After all, how else is anybody going to remember what the fuck an Xbox 360 is?

So, now that the n00b has given away all of the secrets to snowboard photography, it’s time for you to get out there and be somebody! …and quit your job, because the n00b needs it. Bad.