Harro Blog

Matt Reardon at Brighton

Ski City Shootout

02 Mar, 2016

There are many times I am reminded how damn lucky I am to do what I do. The past week in Salt Lake City was one of them.

How often do you get to spend time with one of your best mates, ski the best resorts in Utah for a whole week, meet some incredible people who quickly become friends and share the buzz of competing together in a ‘shootout’ photography challenge? Like I said, pretty damn lucky.

Matt Reardon at Solitude Matt Reardon finding solitude at Solitude Resort

I’ve been fortunate to be invited to the Ski City Shootout a few times before and was happy to accept the call to do it again this winter.

Ski City invite a line up of photographers, we each get a team of skiers and the brief is to shoot them doing their thing in the stunning Wasatch resorts of Brighton, Solitude, Snowbird and Alta. We get one day in each resort, and at the end of four days we submit a portfolio that has to include two images from each location. The photos that best showcase the Ski City resorts win.

Katrina Devore at Solitude Katrina Devore from Aspen finding fresh lines in Solitude  

Sounds simple? Yes, and no. It’s full on. There were eight teams and we are all competitive. Everyone wants to win. The line up of photographers and athletes was awesome. The judges include Visit Salt Lake tourism representatives, legendary local photographer Lee Cohen and Powder mag editor David Reddick. A tough crowd, so we worked hard to impress them. 12-16 hour days trying to get early morning light, alpenglow, hiking out to ridgelines to showcase the landscapes and shooting and skiing over and over and over to get the shot.

What we all produced in 4 days is what many resorts or photographers would take a whole season to create.

Matt found himself in some creative positions, this one at Brighton. 

I’ve won categories at the Shootout before, I had a strong team and I was hungry for a third gong.

These events are exciting, not just because they are so challenging for everyone involved, judges included, but also because there are so many variables and at the end of the day it’s subjective.

I’ve been on both sides as I created the World Heli Challenge Shootout which was a photo/film competition shaped around a legendary heli-accessed ski and snowboard event I ran down in New Zealand for many years. I used to agonize about the judging panel’s decisions every time and know how hard it can be.

Markus Caston at SnowbirdMarkus Caston joined us on day 4 at Snowbird.

What I love about these events is regardless of who wins they give photographers like me a platform to showcase our skills and style. Our work is often quite solitary and a shootout competition is a rare opportunity to pit yourself against others, enjoy the jostle of competitiveness and push your creativity against a serious time-crunch.

Looking back on how I shot this event and the images I chose for my portfolio, I realize I strayed from the brief a bit. In an attempt to get really creative some of my photos failed to obviously locate the resort and maybe although they were great ski shots they didn’t tick the “Ski City” box. It was a good lesson to reflect on, and sadly it meant I missed out on a podium. Ouch. That’s life.

Katrina Devore at AltaKatrina at Alta

But I have to say, even though a prize and a big novelty check is nice I cannot feel happier about the week. What an opportunity to network in this amazing industry and ski-world family of ours. And what a privilege to spend a week enjoying the ‘greatest snow on earth’ as they like to say in Utah.

Dax Mills at AltaDax Mills sending it in the evening light at Alta.

I’m planning to come back in a couple of weeks and am already looking forward to catching up with some of the many people I met during the week and I know I won’t be able to help myself, so there will be more shooting!

Dax Mills at Brighton
Dax Mills on the jump that claimed his ankle after a bungled landing.

Congratulations to the winning photographers Wray Sinclair, Reuben Krabbe, Jay Dash and their teams. Awesome work.

THANK YOU to the Ski City team and everyone who made the Shootout happen. It was a serious buzz to be part of it again.

Markus Caston at SnowbirdMarkus Caston, one of the most ripping skiers I’ve ever focused a lens on shredding Snowbird.

Off Mountian Salt Lake City ShootoutSki City, Utah.