Action shots are not easy even when you have good light. Photo: Courtesy of Angela Percival/Arc’teryx

Photographing any kind of action sport is never easy. Add the white landscape of winter and the logistics of gravity sports, it is safe to say that shooting backcountry skiing or riding is certainly one of the most difficult – but certainly one of the most rewarding.

In the age of social media, getting the shot seems to be a goal of many, but getting an interesting shot seems to be goal reached by only a few. The very stylish brand Arc'teryx knows this very well. Known for their dramatic and rather moody imagery, Arc’teryx understands that with the growing popularity of backcountry activities, that there is also a desire for beautiful images. They have recently added an F-Stope Photo Clinic Series to their Backcountry Academy held this year in Jackson Hole this weekend.

Getting action, focus and lighting in a ski shot isn’t easy. Photo: Courtesy of Angela Percival/Arc’teryx

Angela Percival, Senior Outdoor Photographer at Arc’teryx, is charged with the task of producing high-quality images for the brand and is also in charge of the clinics.

“We have been running the photo workshop in Chamonix for a while,” Percival tells ASN. “Last year we had about 60 people and it was an amazing community of people. It is a bit of a personal passion for me because it is one of the only times I get to really connect with the consumer. Our intention of the clinics is to help people create better images.”

This year Arc'teryx will offer two programs, one intermediate course with Percival, and one advanced course with Scott Markewitz. Percival has developed the clinics to help budding professionals and amateurs who just like to shoot.

Knowing what equipment to bring and how to pack is actually an art when it is in the backcountry. Photo: Courtesy of Will McKay

“The clinics are filled with stuff I would have liked to have learned,” says Percival. “Like when I was starting out, I wouldn’t show anyone my pictures because I compared myself to the Jimmy Chins of the world. I think if I had gone to more workshops and had people critique my work a bit more I would had gotten to where I am a bit quicker. In these clinics, we will review each other’s work.”

The main focus of the courses will revolve around the environment. “It is one thing to go and shoot a photo at a known location, but to do it in such a fickle season like winter surrounded by snow with skier is hard,” Percival tells ASN. “Unlike mountain biking where you can do it over and over again, you really only get one chance to get the shot in the snow. It is quite hard to make a magazine cover, especially now to make it interesting and not just be like a pow shot.”

Weather will do what it wants, it is up to use how to play with it. Photo: Courtesy of Angela Percival/Arc’teryx

Here are six things you can expect to learn from the Arc’teryx photo clinics at the Backcountry Academy.

Working With Fast Subjects

“How to pan, how to shoot someone that is moving really quickly through the frame and how do you set yourself up best in that,” she says. “This is really specific in the ski/riding workshops we have.

“In climbing, your subject tends to move really slowly, often you know where they are going to go. Whereas a skier, you don't always. Which leads into the next thing we teach …”

How to Communicate and Direct a Subject

“How to direct your subject really helps because you often only have one chance to shoot them on a piece of snow. So you really have to set yourself up for success,” says Percival. “Your subject might be way up hill because they need speed to do a pow turn, so they are coming in completely blind and have no idea where they are coming in from because you can't see them either. Communication is key.”

Your friends might be good skiers, but likely they aren’t pros. Photo: Courtesy of Angela Percival/Arc’teryx

How to Shoot in Flat Light

Most often in the winter time it is not sunny, bluebird and perfect,” explains Percival. “As a professional, we can kind pick the days but for those who are just shooting on the weekend, they can't pick the weather.

“We teach making the best of the conditions you have. How to get a little bit more creative, also how do you shoot in bad light? Like grey overcast, super flat light? Anyone can shoot in the sun, but if you can make a soggy wet day look good, then you can shoot in anything.”

Shoot a Pro

“It is one thing to shoot your friends skiing, but at the workshop, we provide professional Arc'teryx athletes who are willing to keep skiing in-front of the camera for you (and going back up to do it again.) This is a great bonus because these athletes are great skiers and they are there just for the participants to shoot,” Percival tells ASN. “A good photo of a bad skiers isn’t ideal.”

How to Make Your Shots More Interesting

“This applies to whether you are shooting with an iPhone or a DSLR,” she says. “A lot of people are at that level where they have a camera, but they don’t want to carry it a lot of the time. So this class is for people who love photography and want to make their images just a bit more interesting … Even if it is just a thought process.”

Photography Systems Specific for Backcountry

“How to manage your equipment. What do you take out in the backcountry when you shoot. Are you taking more than you need and are you using it efficiently? We will get you shooting more and spending less time with your head in your bag looking for that lens,” Percival says.

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