April 26th, Behind the 1st Place Shot

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Every photo tells its own story, and this 1st place photo has a rather unique one. My friend Drew asked me if I wanted to come over and snowboard, as well as take a few photos. It is worth noting that this was not at a ski hill, it was his backyard. Drew spent hours creating jumps and tubes to glide on. I was blown away by the setup when I arrived. Although the hill was not the biggest, it was enough to have a great time and test out a few new tricks.

  • Without a towrope, Drew treks up the hill.

    Without a towrope, Drew treks up the hill.

  • Drew flies across the corrugated pipe grabbing the nose.

    Drew flies across the corrugated pipe grabbing the nose.

After we both took a few runs down the hill, I decided that it was time for me to break out my camera and start taking photos. Drew was ready to bring on the heat as we split time between a few of the features on the hill. He started by flying over a corrugated pipe performing boardslides and grabbing the nose of his board. My favorite part of the corrugated pipe is the buzzing sound that it makes as the board goes over the top of it. The sound creates a unique energy to the feature, making you want to do it repeatedly.

  • Drew uses his snowboard to flatten the new feature.

    Drew uses his snowboard to flatten the new feature.

  • Drew gathers snow for his jump.

    Drew gathers snow for his jump.

After this, we decided to build a new feature. In Drew’s backyard there is a row of rocks with a drop of about 4 feet. Drew gathered snow to rest on top of a rock and began to build a steep jump. After he had finished building it, Drew had to test it. The first few times he went off it, he fell, but it was all in good fun. He soon got to work and was performing spins and grabs, which was very impressive as the airtime was only about 2 seconds.

  • Drew walks up the hill to test the new feature he built.

    Drew walks up the hill to test the new feature he built.

  • Drew falls after testing a jump.

    Drew falls after testing a jump.

  • Drew flies off a freshly built jump.

    Drew flies off a freshly built jump.

Finally, we headed to the last spot on his hill to take a few more action shots. This feature was a pvc pipe about 3 to 4 feet long. I had Drew perform various tricks on the pipe. It took 4 times to get the specific shot I wanted, and even then, I had no idea what was going to come from this shot. We went along to take a few more photos, and I had him pose with his snowboard in a few locations. My goal was to tell a story though the photos I had taken that day, and I felt very confident that I did. The last photo I took that day was of his chicken named after Donald Trump, because it looked him. It’s always nice to end a shoot on a positive note, especially if it has to do with taking photos of chickens.

  • Drew glides across a pvc pipe.

    Drew glides across a pvc pipe.

  • Drew poses for a photo after an evening of riding.

    Drew poses for a photo after an evening of riding.

  • Drew's chicken, Donald.

    Drew's chicken, Donald.

A couple months later I was informed about a photo contest through Jostens, the company who made my school’s yearbooks. I entered a handful of photographs in a few different categories but had no intention of winning or being recognized for them. About a month after I entered them, I received an email informing me that my photo of Drew had won first place in the Sports: Athletes in Action category. Nonetheless, I was very happy with the outcome. It was very rewarding to be able to share a photograph I took with other people, and to be able to check out photos from other students and see what the next generation of photographer are creating. Having my photo take 1st place wasn’t the most rewarding part in what this photo had to offer. After I delivered the photos to Drew and posted them on Instagram, he responded with a note that said, “Thanks for the great afternoon with hard work and fun involved!” To me, photography is something that I love. It is a way to express my creative side, and there is nothing more powerful than creating an experience that someone loved as much as I did.

January 4th, 2021: Snowboarding

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Hyland Hills is a staple for the snowboarding community in Minnesota's Southwest Metro area. Although the runs are short and the lift lines are long, one can find face paced action on the terrain park. “The Park” as many call it does not have a chairlift, but rather a towrope. This rope doesn’t stop moving and brings skiers and snowboarders up the hill creating a fluid motion of going up and down countless times a day, becoming known as the “Land of 10,000 Laps”.

  • Joe grabs the front of his board mid-air.

    Joe grabs the front of his board mid-air.

  • Neal (right) & Joe (left) check out photos from earlier in the day.

    Neal (right) & Joe (left) check out photos from earlier in the day.

On January 4th, 2021, I had an opportunity to photograph some snowboarders at Hyland. Throughout the day I captured many great images, but the magic came when the sun started to set, and the temperature began to drop. The snowboarders I had originally been there to photograph headed out, but there were still a few people on The Park. I was starting to see the photos I wanted to make even before I took them.

  • A snowboarder board-slides.

    A snowboarder board-slides.

Over the next 30ish minutes I took every chance I got to shoot snowboarders performing various tricks. I captured a variety of images both wide shots and close-ups. On this day I really loved the warm glow on the photos. Although only 20 degrees outside, the sun helped create warm tones and sense of home to the images. Riders often spend hours at the hill, riding from open to close, making Hyland a second home to many.

  • Matt Chase, a G-Team snowboard instructor, board-slides over the big rainbow.

    Matt Chase, a G-Team snowboard instructor, board-slides over the big rainbow.

  • A snowboarder flies off a jump.

    A snowboarder flies off a jump.

  • Matt Chase, a G-Team Snowboard instructor does a flip off a jump.

    Matt Chase, a G-Team Snowboard instructor does a flip off a jump.

  • A snowboarder goes off a jump performing a spin and melon grab.

    A snowboarder goes off a jump performing a spin and melon grab.

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