This might seem like an odd “Photo Tip” but trust me on this one, I’ve added it to the beginners section of Ski & Snowboard Photography 101 because it’s an easy thing that you can do from the get go to focus your creativity.

When you plan on spending a long time on a mountain taking photos, be prepared for everything the mountain might throw at you.  Wind, rain, sudden drops in temperature and of course our favorite, the blizzard.  Ski and snowboard photography can often (though not always) involve a lot of sitting around and waiting.  Maybe your buddy is spinning laps of the terrain park on the chairlift while you lie in wait by the jump.  Maybe you are way out in the backcountry waiting for the perfect light to fall on a pillow line or maybe the weather has closed in and you can’t see where you are going.  In these situations if you are sitting there shivering in the cold because you wore a cotton T-Shirt as a base layer , or you only bought one pair of gloves that are now soaked through, then I guarantee that your mind will not be on your next shot.  Being comfortable in these situations gives you more time to think about your next image and makes you less likely to make a small error that could ruin your shot.

Some things I always carry on me to make life more comfortable:

  • At least one pair of spare gloves
  • Either a spare lens or a whole spare set of goggles
  • Sunglasses if it’s sunny
  • Sunscreen
  • An extra layer of varying types depending on the current weather.  Sometimes when I’m snowmobiling this extra layer is full down jacket.
  • Plenty of water
  • More food than you think you ought to need.

These are just the extra things that I take, but I also make sure that I use high quality clothing layers, especially for the outer layer.  There is nothing more miserable then being soaked though in a blizzard because your jacket is not waterproof enough.  I go for seam sealed outer layers and currently I’m wearing the Salomon 3 layer Sideways Jacket which has been great. Underneath that I have a mid layer wind breaker from Arcteryx and Icebreaker’s fantastic Merino wool base layers.  Now granted, none of this stuff is cheap but if you just spent thousands of dollars on your camera setup then you want to be in a frame of mind where you can take good shots with it.  I prefer to use a layering system because it gives you more control throughout the day.  A day in my life can be intermittent moments of technical skiing with a 40lb pack on and hours of sitting doing nothing waiting for the light.  In that scenario you want to be cool when you are exerting yourself and warm when you are not.

The same goes for thirst and hunger.  If you are sitting there starving and thirsty then your mind will not be as focused as it should be on the task in hand.  Always carry the food you need for the day, and then a little extra for emergencies and don’t necessarily rely on getting food from the restaurant on the mountain.  If you set up for a shot and have to wait a while you don’t want to have to break off and go back to the restaurant to grab a snack.  Some high density energy bars like those from Cliff are a great thing to keep in the bottom of your pack.  Being comfortable will improve your success ratio and pay off in the long run.

For a full list of the gear that I use please check out the Gear Guide.