Where the action is captured!
© Alexander Rydén
Skiing

Alexander: The Flying Cameraman

Meet Alexander Rydén. The guy who'll follow your every turn down steep lines and drop huge cliffs - with a camera.
Written by Fabian Omne
8 min readPublished on

Cool shots don't grow on trees. In fact, they are designed and planned into the smallest detail. Without a plan and a vision, they'll never surface.

In this text, you'll get to meet the superhero behind the lens. He's the person responsible for providing the audience with jaw-dropping imagery, the person who gives your turn the angle it deserves and the Hellman who crushes the boundaries of what's possible in documenting skiing.
The man of the hour is also possibly the fastest man alive when it comes to skiing with a Gimbal.
Without further ado, let's get up close & personal with the man behind the lens.
Alexander grew up in Edsåsdalen, not long from Swedens biggest ski resort, Åre.
You can see the mountains peaking in the distance, and the lights from the resort lighting up the sky 24/7 in winter are hard to miss. Inevitably you spend a lot of time watching, visualising and imagining different scenarios when growing up with those views in your periphery. Maybe that was the underlying start of Alexanders career of documenting skiing.
Can you guess which tracks belongs to Alexander?

Can you guess which tracks belongs to Alexander?

© Alexander Rydén

Hi there Alexander! First of all: we know you like using gimbals, but what is that exactly?
Hello to you too! My favourite question. A gimbal is like a cage for the camera that takes away all the shaking and violence while moving (skiing) from the shot.
Insta-friendly

Insta-friendly

© Kristofer Turdell

What lead you to start filming?
I've always enjoyed action sports. As a kid, I was on the football and hockey team, but I mostly spent time on the bench as the years went by. Luckily for me, I had the mountains to go to instead. Me and my friends started filming and taking photos of each other jumping etc. We wanted to see how our tricks turned out and compared the shots with the pros in ski movies. At that time I had no ambitions of getting into the business of filming. I was working in the lift at my home resort and did some designing for the park-layout.
The younger years

The younger years

© Alexander Rydén

One day at work, a friend called me and asked if I could help out on the set of a TV-show which were being produced in Åre. Apparently, they needed help constructing some obstacles in the snow, and someone tipped them about me. I called my boss, asked for two weeks off, and just like that, I was on my way to the set. I helped out a lot and worked hard as an assistant. I think this is where it all started for me. Not because I learned a lot or because I had any given skill. What lighted my fire was watching the men & women doing this sort of thing for a living that inspired me. If they could work with film, I sure as h*ll should be able to work with it too!
He can also ski like a maniac

He can also ski like a maniac

© Marcus Ahlström

When my employment was over at the set, I courageously approached the producer and asked if they had any work for me. He smiled and said what he was supposed to say, but to cut it short I didn't receive any exciting phonecalls the during the following weeks...
As an unemployed but interested and aspiring filmer, I started to think about how I could get to where they were at.
Started from the bottom now we here (from the bottom of the hike of course)

Started from the bottom now we here (from the bottom of the hike of course)

© Sandra Lahnstainer

So I moved to Stockholm to attend one year of media school with the focus on Live TV production. Fun fact: 80% of live tv productions are either Football or Hockey, my least favourite sports.
After that, I applied as a trainee at Big Brother as well as a local tv channel, TV Åre. Both parts accepted my inquiry, and I chose TV Åre.
To this day I still regard choosing TV Åre was the best decisions I've ever made. Even if I was "just" a trainee, I got the chance to shoot everything between heaven and earth that was going on in the town. From kids in the slopes to the pros visiting for competitions.
One day when on set for a commercial I met Simon Sjörén. He had just bought the world's biggest drone, which was apparently strong enough to lift a kid. There was only one problem: you needed two people to handle it, one flying the drone and one operating the camera. A problem which was very convenient for me.
We started working a lot together and practised many ways of capturing skiing in any way we could imagine.
As things evolved our teamwork proved prosperous, and Simon started what is now Whiteout Pictures. In the beginning, there was a lot of experimenting. I wanted to know every which way I could tweak the camera and my equipment to the max with skis strapped to my feet.
From there, things have been taking off and what I experimented with back then is now the foundation of how I do my filming.
When asked about what drives Alexander to capture skiing the way he does, he concludes that it's all about feeling and emotions. It doesn't matter if it's about resembling fear or making you believe that you're right there along the skier when watching. Everything blends into a perfect mix of serious imagery.
let the audience feel like if they are right there with the skiers."
Alexander
Want to see some awesome Gimbal-shots signed Alexander Rydén and Whiteout Pictures? Watch this!
You started shooting with gimbals before it turned "mainstream", was all the equipment available to buy, or did you have to get creative and construct your own?
There has been some hands-on solutions and trial and error to get the gear working the way I wanted. Such as soldering wires to power cameras and video links, adding extra weights to counterbalance things, giving feedback to the companies who make gimbals. The list goes on and on.
one of the many things the guys from Whiteout Pictures experimented with

one of the many things the guys from Whiteout Pictures experimented with

© Alexander Rydén

What's your mindset when hitting drops or going fast in powder with expensive camera gear?
I rarely think of how expensive the gear is. Negative thinking won't help me get the perfect shot. Of course, I wouldn't prefer to spread my gear in a gazillion pieces, but I try to focus on how I could do my best to get the shot. And from there, I increase my chances of nailing it along with blocking the fear out.
Follow Cam in the deep pow

Follow Cam in the deep pow

© Whiteout Pictures

Sounds reasonable, but surely there must be some occasion where you've been a bit shaky?
I Remember one time in particular. Last winter I was asked to do a follow cam in a downhill-course next to Axel Lund Svindal, a Norwegian legend in alpine skiing.
It was years since I last used race skis, so I had to practise for a week before that day to control the high speeds in shaky and icy conditions.
Downhill ski racing is straight up crazy with riders reaching speeds of up to 150km/h. How would you feel about keeping up with those guys? Not too confident? Then try it without poles and place a 10kg expensive as sh*t gimbal between your hands instead!
Slide to see how Alex practises high-speed Gimbal follow cam
..And another one.
Have you had a severe crash with the equipment yet?
When I was working at TV Åre my friend and I crashed into each other while doing a follow cam. We both tomahawked down Gästrappet in Åre, and the gear was spread out like a yard sale.
Since that day I always make sure to discuss where and how we are going to ski and film together with the athlete before we drop in.
Operating as a cameraman amongst the snow: what’s the biggest challenge?
In the backcountry, there's a risk of avalanches since you go two people at the same time in the fresh pow. That way it's easier to trigger the snowpack which in turn unleashes avalanches.
Then there is the snow spray. Sometimes all I can see when filming is a white wall of snow in front of me due to the skier laying deep turns. When going through it, all you can do is pray that the athlete you're chasing isn't going to be right in front of you.
Explain how the shot of your dreams would look like!
I'm visualising a long field of pillows covered in fresh snow. I would follow cam next to a really good skier, getting spray after spray in combination with huge drops. Then to finish it all off, the last pillow would be a big drop into an infinity of deep powder!
Did you know he actually sent up his own drone and left it hovering to get this shot?

Yepp, he followed him down

© Alexander Rydén

What's the most fun about doing what you do?
That's a hard one! My job is all about setting up goals and reaching them. What I enjoy most is the obstacles in between, the uncertainty and the entire experience of pushing through it.
Any plans for the upcoming winter?
Quite a few! I've got some more follow cam and documentary projects scheduled. I also want to learn more about the mountains in every way possible. It's a good way of visualising what's possible and not when venturing out in potentially dangerous terrains.
I'm also trying to implement my years of climbing into skiing to get some creative angles!
Oh yeah, we forgot to mention that Alexander can climb aswell..

Oh yeah, we forgot to mention that Alexander can climb aswell..

© Erik Wennberg

And for years, I've been thinking of skiing something really, really steep.
Maybe something like this? Follow cam? No biggie.

Maybe something like this? Follow cam? No biggie.

© Alexander Rydén

With those incredibly teasing last words from Alexander, we'll let him return to his chambers to keep on doing what he does best: revolutionising the way we watch skiing.
Let this serve as a friendly reminder. In order to get the most stunning shots, Everyone involved has to go through heaven and hell. It's about time we give some cred to the heroes which enable us to watch action sports the way we do.
Love the snow as much as us? Be sure to follow!