Photo of the Week: Gigi Rüf

© Tobias ‘Ludschi’ Ludescher

This week, Danny Burrows looks at Gigi Rüf's tree jib in Niseko, as snapped by Tobias Ludescher.

Photography is the most accessible and intelligible language of snowboarding, understood not only by those who ride but also those who don’t, but should. It’s not only a catalyst for progression but also a record of how snowboarding has progressed: It can teach and inspire, as well as set benchmarks to which all can aspire, both in photography and riding.

Each week Danny Burrows asks a pro photographer to choose a shot from their archives and divulge its worth of a thousand words.

Today’s image is a collaboration between two of the original members of Pirate Movie Productions, Gigi Rüf and Tobias (Ludschi) Ludescher. It was shot in Hokkaido, Japan, during the making of Walk The Plank, in 2006.

“It makes you want to be there”, said Ludschi of the picture. “The energy of that moment has stoked me out over the years and I still consider this one of my best (shots) ever.”

Pirate Movie Productions has been in operation since 2001, when both Gigi and Ludschi, in the company of fellow pirates Basti, Flo, Bugs and Marco, embarked on a Scandinavian snowboard odyssey in a bus. It voyage was to culminate in the making of the crew’s first film Decent Frames; a movie that made it on to VHS for friends but didn’t make general release.

Since 2001, they have made 12 full movies, including their latest Unique 8, as well as several offshoot travel features, under the banner of Boardbagged and an online series that goes by the name of Pirate TV.

They are one of the few movie companies to be weathering the perfect storm of dwindling film sponsorship and the internet. This is perhaps because the Pirates have not only shifted shape to reflect market trends but also stayed true to the belief that to express the creativity of snowboarding they must infuse everything that they produce with a concentrated form of creativity of their own.

For this reason they still produce a hardback book of art with their annual DVD release.

“We are worth more than your daily dose of 5-minute visual jerk off” was Ludschi’s explanation for their commitment to a tangible copy of their work. “The book represents a medium that doesn't need a screen and is timeless. Also the movie is a big-ass project that most likely will be viewed again and again if it's a hard copy. We want to add our part to snowboard culture and it's arts”.

Gigi has been a driving force behind both the creativity and success of the Pirates, his chosen medium the union of board and snow. It was also he who approached his original sponsors Burton to fund the Pirates first distributed film Shooting Your Friends. The rest is history, as they say.

This is how Ludschi describes his fellow pirate and the subject of this outstanding shot: “He combines the talent of moving sideways with a personality that comes with unique style!” That, and the fact that he knows how to “work his ass off”. “Watching him doing a simple turn makes us all want to go out and adapt to his approach of being thoughtful to details and seeing snowboarding as a run, and not a one hitter” Ludschi added.

In closing I asked Ludschi what the Pirates had up their sleeve for next season, aside from the book and film of course: “We're working on new ways to shoot snowboarding, from a technical side and of course have a couple of new riders in the squad that will surprise our viewers!”

Watch out for the new Pirates movie dropping next autumn and stay abreast of their latest antics on www.pirate-movie-production.com.

Camera – Canon 20D
Lens – 15mm fisheye
Speed - 1/2000
F-stop – 5,6
ISO – 400
Rider – Gigi Rüf
Trick – tree jib
Location – Niseko, Japan
Photographer – Tobias ‘Ludschi’ Ludescher