Let me just start this post by making one thing clear, I LOVE Crotched Mountain. Crotched Mountain is my home, and will always be the mountain closest to my heart. But my plan is to make this little company huge, to make it THE studio that ski mountains look to for unbelievably awesome photos and videos, so working with other mountains is just part of the plan for the growth of the company. Ski and snowboard photography and videographer is tough, to say the least. You work in challenging conditions, cold, snow, wind, you have a tiny window of good light to work with. Did I mention you’re standing on long slippery boards of wood on the side of a snow covered mountain for hours? I am lucky though, my style of filmmaking is very different than most “ski videographers” in that I don’t really do “edits”, I make short ski films that have a more commercial/lifestyle feel to them. This sets me apart from most ski videographers and makes my work unique.
Last month I was sitting at my desk working and didn’t notice my phone ring, so as I took a break to fire up the espresso machine I played back my messages and nearly choked on my drink when I heard “hey, this is Loon Mountain…” on my phone! I will always have that reaction to a big client, its exciting. They were looking for a videographer/photographer to cover their upcoming and hugely successful “Womens Performance Clinic” in a few weeks, and they had googled “New Hampshire Ski Videographer” and Earl Studios came up at the top of the list (keywords people, its all about keywords!). I franticly called them back, playing cool though, because you don’t want to let a client know how unbelievable eager you are to work with them, its still business after all and you have to play the game. After some great conversations we locked down the assignment, and working with my amazing producer Gretchen we got lodging and all the logistics setup for the 2 day all day shoots.
I will admit to being pretty nervous about this project, it was in every way my “big break”. Loon is huge, and if I did good on this it could mean changing the future of this little company forever. The main assignment was filming skiers taking one run straight at camera on day one then day two, then processing each clip so that it could be reviewed 2 hours later with the coaches over lunch. This in itself presented several challenges. One, I shoot with HD DSLRS, so there is no “auto focus”, and pulling focus on a skier coming straight to you for over 15 to 20 seconds is a huge challenge. Second, I had to get in to the lodge, download the footage, process, edit, categorize, and export the footage for 30 skiers in 2 hours to have it available for review on a projector screen. Would my laptop handle the workload? Would the files export in time? Would I forget to hit record??? I worry, its the Irish Catholic in me, what can I say. But when all was said and done, it all worked perfectly. As an added bonus, I shot in 60fps so the footage could be played in slow motion, allowing the instructors to really pinpoint the issues that needed to be addressed during the weekend, which they really seemed to enjoy (everything looks cool in slow motion). After the video review session, we stripped down the cameras and switched to photo mode, as I went out and did photos of the skiers in the afternoon for use in Loons’ own, in house produced, incredibly beautiful magazine. Seriously, they produce a full magazine in house that looks like a ski version of Sports Illustrated meets Vogue. its awesome.
This was, hands down, one of the top ten moments in the history of this little company. The people at Loon were like family from the moment I showed up, and the skiers attending the clinic were some of the best “models” I’ve ever had the chance to work with. By the second day, they were referring to me as their “paparazzi”. It was the challenge that made it so memorable, because nothing great comes from something easy. This was during the harsh cold spell, and temperatures were at or below zero, with high winds, so there were times when my fingers had gone absolutely numb, my face in excruciating pain, and my toes fell off twice I think. Not to mention this was my first time at Loon Mountain, which is huge, and yes, for a moment, I actually got lost. But I found my way before long, and in the process met some incredible people, made some new friends, and hopefully moved this company forward towards becoming the most recognized and respected name in ski photography and videography in New England…if your going to dream, dream big, right?