This is one of my all time favorite photos, it was two years in the making. The year before, I tried to shoot something similar with John Jackson, but it didn’t work out. After that attempt, I was so upset. There’s only been a few times that I haven’t been able to pull off a conceptual photo. Not to mention, that I planned it out a year before I shot it. Let’s just say I was heartbroken.
I was going to try it again for this project, and I was very nervous going in to this shoot. The day we rolled up to shoot, there was freezing rain coming down. It was probably the worst conditions you could imagine for a shoot. I was sitting in my truck, with my friend Nathan Yant, trying to decide if we should go up and shoot or not. He said , “this is what we do, we shoot snowboarding, we work in conditions like this, so quit trippin’ and let’s just go out there and see if the weather gets better.” I agreed, so we gathered our 20 person crew, and headed up the mountain in the freezing rain, as the sun was setting. When we got up there, we entered into a crazy blizzard! All the photo equipment was covered in 10 inches of snow, and it was dark now. It took us 2 hours to find all the equipment and unbury it, then we spent another 4 hrs setting up in a blizzard!
We wanted to get a test shot before we lit the trees on fire, but no one wanted to hit a jump in a blizzard, in the middle of the night. I agreed. The storm started to let up, but now every one was wet and freezing cold. Cameron Pierce and Daniel Eek said, “we will do some speed checks and see if we warm up.” They sad they’d give it a try. Now it was going to happen. My stomach was in knots, but I couldn’t let anyone know this, because if I show doubt, my crew would start doubting it too. My experience with these types of situations is, every one needs to say positive. Everyone was looking at me, and I just kept telling them, it was going to work out and be an amazing shoot, but I had no idea if it was going to work. Daniel and Cameron, started hitting it. After a few hits, Daniel was over it, it was too dangerous for him, he couldn’t even see while he was riding into the jump. Cameron wasn’t stoked about the conditions, but we wanted to do it. Cameron had just come in to town that day, to replace Peter Line, who broke his back working on this project. Cameron is an armature for Forum, and this was one of his first big shoots. Talk about stepping up, and he did!
Now it was time for us to light the trees on fire. We only have one or two chances to get this. I put, a local Tahoe kid, Kyle McCoy, who worked for the forest service
(with fire) , in charge of lighting the trees on fire. It was hard to get the trees to light because they were covered with frozen rain. Kyle made some crazy concoction he learned from working with the forest service. He started dowsing the trees along with five other local Tahoe kids. Nathan and I were thinking this does not look good. We radioed to Cameron, he was ready. We called “action!”, he dropped in and started riding down the dark mountion at full speed. We motioned to light the trees and there was an explosion of orange light. Kyle was on the peak of the jump with this flammable concoction in his hand. We noticed his half of his body was on fire! It looked like a scene out of a Die Hard movie! He knew Cameron was already riding into the jump, so he didn’t even try to put the fire out! He just ran and jumped off the side of the jump while on fire, not knowing what was on the other side! Next thing you know Cameron comes flying off the jump and bam I shoot this photo. I looked at the image instantly and knew I had the shot.
Now it was time to see if every one was ok. We ran up to
Kyle and he was laughing. I asked, “Are you ok?”, he said, “This is nothing! I work for the Forest Service, imagine being in a real forest fire!” At the end of the day, it all worked out. I was stoked. I grew up in South Lake Tahoe, and let’s just say , “we are a rare breed”. My crew was mostly made up of these people. It would not have been possible to do this without them.
Most people would say we’re crazy… I say, these are my friends!
Side note: If any one was wondering about the trees, I had my friend Tarren and Kyle Norman, gather Christmas trees that people had thrown out with the trash after Christmas. They stored them for us until this shoot. The trash left over after Christmas, is so bad for our environment. That is what this photo symbolizes to me.
This ice wall took 2 days to build, it got finished at 4:30 am. We could only shoot on the ice for an hour before the sun came up. We felt like we were dreaming because we were so tired. (Action by Pat Mo0re)Action & Portrait photo:Daniel Eek
The pond photo was super fun to shoot, nothing crazy happened. So my boss (Bryan Knox)had to “live up to the craziness”, I told him that every time I shoot, something crazy happens. He told me he was going to jump the pond on my snowmobile. In my head I was like “yeah right”, and said sure. He road it through it a few times, and decided he said I going to do it. I couldn’t say no because I already said he could. I hear my snowmobile just coming out of the darkness at full throttle toward it. Then you see him flying over the pond. He made it!
We started screaming in excitement, he brought the snowmobile around to me…we noticed the whole rear end was bent and all the shocks were blown out!
There was a take off, but just a flat landing. I just started laughing and said I was stoke he did that.