Sunday, August 23, 2009

S.A. Pow and Neon Sunsets

The Andes are starting to deliver. With epic amounts of snow in the last few days, things are starting to stabilize and we where able to get some sick turns in today. The road laps off of the backside of El Colorado have some of the best lines I have ever skied. Looks like there is another storm rolling in again but we where able to view an amazing sunset over the Andes tonight. Hopefully we will get some fresh pow, and stable conditions.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Snowed in at Portillo

After a late night of partying in the Hotel Portillo diso, we awoke to being completely snowed in with over a meter of snow overnight. Heavy snowfall continued all day, with the wind picking up in the afternoon, and the constant rumbling of natural avalanches. The resorts lifts where all but shut down with the exception of the beginner double chair and its 400 vert, but that provided for good times, bottomless pow turns and good times all around.

Looks like we are going to be in for quite the day when the storm finally clears.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

I am in Chile!

After 24 plus hours of traveling I am finally in Chile! Plus Portillo just got a huge dump of snow so the conditions should be all time EPIC!

Bad news is that the road is closed, so I am hanging out at the Hotel Atton in Santiago with Wendy Fisher and the Austrian ski team. We are hoping that the road will be open this afternoon so that we can drive up to Portillo this evening.

Here is a pic of a random lady in the hotel lobby.

Getting ready for a month long summer ski trip to S.A.

With all time record high temps in Bellingham, I cant think of a better time to go skiing for a month.... especially when the skiing is in Chile and Argentina. The only downside to summer skiing in S.A. is having to pack while in complete mountain bike mode... but oh well the bike trails will probably be even better when I return home.
Being a photographer means that I have to carry a LOT of gear. Here is a shot of my carry on bags contents while I was packing for the trip.

Lone Jack Mine

The Mt. Baker mining district was host to the last large gold rush after the Klondike days with lots of burnt out and spend miners prospecting for gold in the Mt. Baker national forest. The gold rush was sparked when 3 lucky individuals found gold specs in a quartz vein near Twin Lakes. This became the site of the Lone Jack Mine, with 3 separate claims combined into one: The Lone Jack, The Lulu and The Wist. Each of these claims was developed with a mine shaft, and at multiple times in its early history there was a significant development of mine buildings to process the ore, but each was taken out by the areas massive snowfall and avalanches. While the Wist is still active when the price of gold is high enough, the other two portals are no longer being used. Here are a couple of images from Karl Palmer, Rene Crawshaw and myself checking out the mine shaft last week.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

August must be interview month. Here is an interview I just did for Action Sports Cartel

G_G_13830Lets get the basics down first, your name, age and home base.

Grant Gunderson, 29, Mt. Baker Washington

What's your primary subject matter for photography?

The main focus of my photography is capturing the best possible ski action, as well as documenting the culture of skiing. In addition to my ski photography, I shoot all types of mountain sports when the conditions are right, but skiing is my passion.

When, why and how did you pick up your first camera and start shooting?

I first picked up a camera when I was still in high school, and I was basically just using my dad's old Pentax ME Super to document my friends and myself skiing around in the Cascades. After getting a couple of cool shots, I was completely hooked and decided to put all of my energy into shooting skiing while in college. In college I was a engineering major, so I did not receive any formal photo education, but was fortunate to score a good job with a local high-end camera store, where I learned a great deal about camera equipment, and what it really takes to be a successful photographer from the pros that frequented the shop.

Did you end up finishing college? I'm guessing you didn't go to work in your field?

I ended up getting a degree in Plastics Engineering after spending 7 years in College. The degree definitely took a backseat to skiing, and an internship I had with Powder magazine. After college I entertained a few job offers, but photography was paying the bills, so I never really pursued the 9-5 office career to seriously.

What gear are you using these days? Do you carry a lot with you when you head out to shoot skiing?

I shoot exclusively with Canon gear these days, and am fortunate enough to be helping them out with some product testing. I tend to be of the better prepared then sorry camp, so I carry a lot of gear. Even on extended ski touring trips.

Everyday, in addition to my avy gear, extra food and water you will find the following camera gear in my bag:

  • Canon 1Dmk3
  • Canon 15mm
  • Canon 16-35mm F2.8 L II
  • Canon 24-70 F2.8L
  • Canon 70-200 F2.8 L
  • Canon 1.4 tc
  • Speedlight flash
  • Two pocket wizard multimax remotes.
  • Sekonic L408 meter

In addition to that gear its not uncommon for me to carry a second pack with an Elinchrom Ranger, specialized lenses such as a 90mm TSE

In the past, I have shot with a large variety of gear. Everything from Linhoff 4x5 cameras, to a full hasselblad setup to a linhoff 6x17 panoramic camera, but the Canon digital bodies are just workhorses and get the job done.

That's a lot of gear to be carrying! So in a typical ski season, how many days are you out shooting?

I am usually on snow close to 200 days a year. I typically start shooting late October / early november and dont rap it up until mid june on most years. Then, I take some time off to bike in July and then are back at it shooting in the southern hemisphere in August and September.

How many photos are you shooting during that season?

I shoot a lot. In fact last season I shot ~ 35,000 images. It varies year to year, but in order to have a strong presence in all of the major publications with out double submitting, and keep my commercial clients happy I have to produce a lot of images.

Because you shoot so many do you end up spending as much time behind a computer sorting through photos as you do shooting them? Or do you have a good workflow process going?

I have a pretty solid workflow set up, using lots of pre-sets in Lightroom for the meta-data, and then batch process most of my color work. That being said, it still requires a lot of time in front of the computer. I try to edit my images every night, and still spend any time I'm not out shooting in front of a computer.

In the skiing industry are you constantly contacting editors and commercial clients as the photos roll in, or is it more of an end of the year process where you put your best together and send it off?

90% of my submissions are done in the spring after the majority of the skiing is done for the year. I think it is very important to only show your best work, and to make a killer submission of only really solid images. During the season, when I do get a highly creative and unique shot, I'll send it over to a few clients and editors as a teaser of what is to come, but I dont try to market my images until the spring. The exception to this, is when I am on assignment or doing a commercial shoot, I try to deliver the images to the client as soon as possible after the shoot. I have found that as I became established in my field, I started to get specific requests for images and shoots year round, so I dont really feel that I need to market specific images until the spring.

Do you have a preference of shooting editorial over commercial or vice versa?

I really enjoy shooting both. Luckily most of my commercial clients prefer that I stick to my vision when creating images for them, since that is why they chose to hire me in the first place. Editorial is almost always fun to shoot since I have full creative freedom, and it has opened the doors for me to travel to some really cool places. Commercial is always fun, since you tend to have a bigger budget to work with and can create images that you normally would not be able to if it was on your own dime. I also like commercial work since you are working at a fast pace to delivery more images than you typically would on a normal spec shoot.

Your star trails skiing photo that you shot last winter got you some pretty cool coverage and an awesome fold out cover, how did you come up with that shoot?

The startrail action shot was an idea that I had for a few years. It basically came out of a brainstorming session that I had trying to figure out new creative approaches to shooting skiing. Basically it was just taking the basic principles of flash photography to the limit of whats possible. Photography is quite simple when you break it down to the basics, and I think there are a lot of creative things that can be done if you stop and really think about how to combine very basic principles in a new way.

Do you have any more creative photos or projects in the works for this year?

I have quite a few ideas that I have been working on, but never really had the right conditions for them last year. Hopefully I'll get the chance to do them this summer in South America, or next winter. I think thats what keeps me going, since there is always a new challenge around the corner.

What was it like being a part of The Ski Journal and getting things going?

Launching The Ski Journal was a blast, and it continues to be a fun and exciting place to work. Starting the publication was a ton of work, even tho we where already publishing Frequency, it took quite a bit of time, and effort to set up the photo department (Frequency did not have one, nor a photo editor). Now the systems that I put in place are now being used by all three of our publications. Even in the current economy and the demise of print mags, TSKJ is still a great place to work. We saw the writing on the wall a long time ago, and have built up the publication using a unique business model in publishing world, where we are more focused on subscribers then advertisers.... seems that doing the exact opposite of the traditional model has worked out well for us.

How has the mag changed since the first season?

The magazine is ever evolving. The biggest change we have had so far is ramping up our production from one to four issues per year. When we first launched TKSJ we only had one publication, and now, we our producing 3 separate Journals ( Frequency, The Ski Journal, and now The Fly Fish Journal). It seems in general that there is a lot of change going on in the publishing industry, especially with other mags trying to find new methods to make up for disappearing readership and revenue streams, but that hasnt been the case for us, as we have been the only titles that are actually growing.

As a photo editor, what are the top 3 priorities / conveniences when you receive a submission from someone? In other words, what are you looking for?

Thats easy. I am looking for AMAZING photos that are well edited, technically perfect and submitted according to our submission guidelines. Ideally, I want good strong images that not just document the best action, but also convey the culture and soul of skiing. It seems like we really dont get enough of those cultural, non cheesy lifestyle shots. Send me photos that convey feeling, and why we ski.

My two biggest pet peeves is when a photographer does not read our very simple submission guidelines, and when a photographer double submits.

Any last words of advice for someone trying to make it as a photographer?

I think the key to make it as a photographer today is having a strong work ethic. If your not willing to put every second your awake into your photography, then you might want to consider a different profession. Taking great images is easy, but with out good business sense, a willingness to work your ass off, and a good attitude, it is near impossible to be successful.

Thanks and shout outs?

I would like to thank all of the companies, and friends that have supported me over the years. Most importantly I would like to thank all of the amazing athletes that I am fortunate enough to work with for all of the hard work they put into getting the images. I would also like to thank Canon USA for supporting my photographic efforts.

Monday, August 10, 2009

ESPN Action Sports Interview and Gallery

35,000 Frames

One small slice of Grant Gunderson's images from last winter.

July 9, 2009, 11:59 AM

By: Tim Mutrie

Grant Gunderson/Canon

Zack Giffin in Mt. Baker Pillowland. See more of him and it in the

Grant Gunderson Gallery »

"35,000 frames—about the same as I shot the year before," photographer Grant Gunderson says of his pictorial bounty from the '08/09 winter.

"Of the 35,000, and that's after my first round of edits, I'd expect to sell at least 500, minimum. It's a numbers game, and you've got to have a huge body of work to keep the commercial and magazine clients happy."

Gunderson, who has called Bellingham, Wash., home for the last ten years, is the photo editor of The Ski Journal. But he also contributes to, oh, some 200 magazines/clients. Bullish and who knew? Gunderson apparently...

"In addition to The Ski Journal, I work with Powder, Ski, Skiing, Backcountry, Outside, SBC Skier and then a whole slew of magazines in Europe. There's just a ton of ski mags in Europe and Japan. In fact, I probably make two-thirds of my income from Europe—every country has two or three mags, so it's good."

What's also good is Gunderson's debut gallery for ESPN Freeskiing.


Gunderson is also a good talker. So we talked.

"I've been shooting for ten years and I've gone completely full-time about four years ago now," he says. "Up until this year, skiing's been it. But now I'm starting to shoot a little bit more mountain biking and hiking and backpacking—you know, general summertime stuff."

Mentors? "I'm pretty good friends with most of the ski photographers out there, and I definitely think we all feed off each other. But if I have to say one, Erik Seo. And as far as inspiration growing up, it'd definitely be Mark Shapiro. He's pretty much the godfather of action sports photography. He was doing ski photography before it really existed as we know it."

Did you study photography? "I went to college for engineering. I applied for the photo department, but they said I wasn't qualified. So engineering, yeah."

College? "Western Washington; been in Bellingham in ten years now. Moved there to go to school and I just didn't leave."

Lifelong Canon devotee? "I wouldn't say I'm a lifelong devotee. But I used to manage a camera store for seven years, so I've dabbled in everything out there. But when I bought my own gear, I bought Canon—because it was the best. And I guess I should still say Canon because now they're sending me cameras and I don't want to get in trouble there..."

What's more your focus—making images or hawking 'em? "Depends on the season, but it probably breaks down to 50-50 throughout the year. Make images all winter then market them in the summer and try to make back what I spent making them all winter. ... In order to be successful as a photographer, you not only have to be good at making photos, but probably more important is the business side of it: Making sure you don't double submit to mags, making sure you're producing good, good images anytime you're out shooting, things like that."

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Pod cast that I did for Adorama Camera

By Jack Howard

May 19, 2009

I first noticed Grant Gunderson's work last summer. I was lazing away an afternoon in the hammock, when the September issue of Skiing magazine arrived. Instead of the normal blue sky and airborne skier, or a superwide angle of a line carved down a crazy steep, this was an amazingly different ski action shot: It's night, the skier is super-close to the camera and there are great arcs of star trails in the sky, and carlight trails around the village below. Best of all, the cover folded out, as shown, to make the presentation even stronger. This is the sort of shot that gets your attention, because is it so technically excellent in so many different ways.

Skiing Magazine September 2008 cover image courtesy Grant Gunderson/Skiing Magazine

Mount Baker, Washington based Gunderson is a self-taught 29 year old ski photographer, and he is the Photo Editor of The Ski Journal, a great looking hardbound photo-intensive ski journal. He also freelances forSkiing, Powder, and most of Europe's 45 different skiing magazines.

Grant talks to us about the importance of being prepared in the backcountry, previsualizing and prefocusing shots–and the importance of snowball accuracy for both shooters and athletes when communicating where the action should take place. You don't have to be skinning up an out-of-bounds chute for an angle to appreciate the tips and tricks Gunderson offers–they'll work just as well on a groomed Green cruiser at your local weekend hill.

3 things Gunderson always keeps in his camera bag are Avalanche Gear, a first aid pack, and communication radios.