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.
Images of snowboarding should come with a health warning; you know the ones: “All those involved in the making of this picture are trained professionals. Don’t try this at home”.
As tricks get more complex, means of propulsion like winches more potent and jumps, pipes, rails and jibs expand, so to does the risk of getting hurt. It’s the dark side of the trade and if you’re putting your life on the line you may as well have someone there to record it.
“You definitely need photographers and filmers when you want to go on a big spot” says photographer Matt Georges “for the simple reasons that it’s stupid to not shoot and document it. It can also push the rider in the right way” he added.
Check this gap to boardslide by Matt Georges, of Swedish ripper Kalle Ohlson, during the filming of PMP’s Unique8. The spot is bang in the middle of downtown Helsinki so is what Matt called “a weekender” because of the human and mechanical traffic.
It had been hit in the past by Eero Ettala, although he gapped to the stairs, where as Kalle was gapping to the rail: “Kalle was definitely in a good mood last season so he just went for it” remembered Matt. And if you want to know what he means by “good mood” check out Kalle’s part: He is off the hook!
“The platform is over a tunnel and the gap is at least 18 meters high, 3 meters long before reaching the stair set, and another 2 meters to hit the rail” explained Matt. “So the risk involved isn’t really to fall in the gap, but rather to take too much speed and go to far to the flat, after the rail set”. The other factor that makes it so gnarly is the impact on the rail and whether a rider can suck it up: “You really have to swallow the board impact return with your legs, otherwise you’re either going to be sent to the moon or just explode the board and get your nuts ripped off”.
As it happened Kalle nearly did rip his nuts off, blowing the board in two between the bindings on this attempted boardslide. He did however step back up to the plate and put the spot and trick in the bag.
I asked Matt if there was a point at which he would say to a rider “no way this spot is too sketchy?” To which he responded that shooting something like this was a team effort: “If the rider doesn’t feel it, then it’s a very good decision to not do it. It can be frustrating for all of us but it’s always better than risking life just for a damn photo or video section. It’s just Snowboarding in the end. It’s not worst dying!”
Camera: Canon 1D mark lV
Lens: 24-70 2.8 @ focal length 52mm
Rider: Kalle Ohlson
Trick: Gap to board
Location: Helsinki, while filming Unique8 by Pirate Movie Production
Photographer: Matt Georges