Free Magazine Interview - Czech Republic
DEAN BLOTTO GRAY
INTRO AND INTERVIEW: RENDA HRONES
I dare say, that I have been watching snowboard magazines worldwide for more than a decade now. During that time a lot of things have changed. New tricks were invented, pro riders came, shine and left, brands were born, lived and then disappeared, designs and trends are constantly evolving.
But some things never changed. One of those constantly present on pages of all snowboard magazines all the time, is the work of Dean Blotto Gray.
In his photos you always find out something surprising, amazing and extraordinary. His photos simply catch your attention, so you have to watch them over and over again. And that is, from my point of view, the art of snowboarding photography...
Please tell us something about yourself... where you were born, what place you call home, age, where do you work now…?
I was born in the Midwest United States, but Phoenix, Arizona is where my family is and what I still consider to be my home. Burlington, Vermont receives the rent check nowadays, along with living out of the travel bags.
What was first? Your love to ride snowboard or love to take pictures?
I was definitely a snowboard bum before becoming passionate about shooting photos.
How did you get into taking snowboarding pictures?
My friends and I owned a small snowboard brand with minimal budgets, so we needed one of our own to take the photos, and that fell into my lap.
When did you take your first picture? What was it?
Travis Parker, Vail Pass Quarterpipe, 1998
What and where was your first picture published? When was it?
Travis Parker, Vail Pass Quarterpipe, 1998 – Stick Magazine (US)
When did you decide to make living out of shooting snowboarding?
When I realized how much I liked shooting snowboarding, promoting the lifestyle and the riders who push it.
How long do you think a career as a snowboard photographer last?
As long as you can stay healthy, enthusiastic, and stoked.
What does it take to be photographer?
Commitment to your craft.
How many days a year you travel? How many countries you traveled to shoot snowboarding? Any favorite place?
On average 290 days per year traveling and shooting snowboarding. The primary countries visited are Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Argentina, Central Europe, Norway, Canada, and everywhere in the United States. I really enjoy every location that I go to for shooting; all locations offer something unique and interesting.
Any experience with Czech republic or „eastern european“ contries?
Not yet unfortunately. Am I invited ?
What is your favorite part of your job?
After all the travel is done, you’re at the spot, the action starts happening….pressing the shutter button is my favorite part.
What is the worst part?
Lugging a lot of equipment around, not seeing family often enough.
What are your ideal shooting conditions?
Later in the day when the light gets real good.
Don’t you get jealous sometimes when guys you shoot get to ride fresh powder in front of your camera and you don’t?
Most definitely !
What was your craziest day of shooting of snowboarding?
In Alaska or New Zealand dealing with unstable snow pack.
Where do you get inspiration in photography?
It’s just there, can’t really explain.
Are you looking at somebody else’s photographs?
No influences from other photographers, only inspiration when I see proper photographs of any sort (mostly skateboarding).
Any photographers you look up to? (not only snowboarding)
Daniel Blom, Jeff Curtes, Espen Lystad, Cole Barash
How do you get on with people you are on the trip with? I mean I think you don’t always know them that much.
Since I only shoot with the Burton Team within snowboarding, we’re all really good friends traveling together for years now.
What else do you shoot besides snowboarding? Woman, travel,…..
Too busy with snowboarding to shoot else where !!
Do you keep all pictures you take or it is impossible? How do you store them?
All 35mm and Medium Format images in fire proof safe, digital files backed up multiple times in various locations.
You have seen the evolution of snowboarding over last years - what do you thing? How much did it changed? Where does it go now?
Style is always the underlying factor that makes or breaks a rider to some degree. Tricks will continue to evolve, be more technical, and increase in the amount of rotations. At the very same time the tricks of years past will make their way back.
What and how has changed in snowboarding photography over the years? (style, technique, content,…). Where does the snowboard photography go now?
Since digital photography has taken over our sport for the most part, we’ve lost the ability to differentiate our images through the use of varied films. Continuing that creative process through digital is a challenge, but it’s working.
What is the basic equipment for beginners to take good pictures of their friends riding?
A good digital SLR body, a telephoto lens, and a wide angle. Next you need to start acquiring flash equipment and a light meter.
What is your opinion of good photo?
Originality, sharp focus, proper use of light (both ambient and strobes).
Anything you would like to say to our readers?
If you have a passion for photography, follow it.
Free Magazine is published in the Czech Republic and distributed around Eastern Europe.