Interview by Sam Haddad, photo by Armelle Monnet
I love snowboarding and wanted to take pictures of my passion, but now I only get two or three days a season to ride for myself. And they’ll normally be bad weather days as if they were good ones I’d be shooting! It’s different to how I expected it to be when I started out, but now I have a new passion, which is photography, that’s replaced snowboarding to an extent. I can’t complain too much though as I get to ride a little most days and I’m on a mountain and not in an office.
I got my first camera from my grandfather. It was an old Pentax, and it was really cool but it broke after a while so I had to work all summer and save up to get a new one. Now, many cameras later, I have a Canon 100 EOS.
I learnt the trade myself. Nobody helped me I just bought a book on how to use a camera, you know lighting and stuff, and another on Photoshop, and taught myself.
Finding a different background or angle is the best thing about taking pictures. I love trying to take pictures that no one else has taken before. The travelling and going to new places aspect of the job is great too.
Carrying a big heavy backpack on the slopes is the most annoying thing about my job. I have a sore back all the time. Waiting for good conditions, as in a sunny day with fresh powder, can be tough too as you never know what the weather is going to do. Walking in deep powder when you’re shooting is very tiring too.
The best riders to shoot with are the ones that are super-motivated and don’t complain. The professional ones are the ones who not only enjoy what they do but they also think about making a good picture all the time. They work with you, look at the obstacles, think about the background and are always thinking. The non-pros are less good at that kind of thing.
I miss shooting on film sometimes. Digital is good as you can react really quickly for magazines and brands and it’s so easy to send shots with the computer, but it’s also meant there’s more competition amongst photographers as it’s easier to be one. It’s harder to make good money from it now.
What advice would I give to female photographers? Good luck as it’s a hard job! I’m not sure I would recommend it. I love my job but it’s harder than ever now. There aren’t many girls coming through at the moment. But when your shot gets used on a mag cover or an ad you get the best feeling.
Snowboarding is definitely a macho sport. It’s the same in every job where there are loads of men, it will be harder for a girl to make her mark. When they see you’re good you’re ok, they’ll give you work but it’s tough to prove yourself and gain their trust in the first place.
Shooting in snow is difficult. You have to take massive care of the camera lens, the battery gets cold, and you have to not drop the camera in the snow! Once I had my bag open and a rider did a powder slash and it all went in my bag. It took so long to dry everything out.
I don’t think I’m very photogenic. Some people just aren’t, where as others are good models. Maybe they have a good face or take the light better or just feel natural in front of the camera. Anne-Flore Marxer is a pleasure to shoot, as she likes having her photo taken. I always try to get people to relax and not force their poses.
To view Vanessa’s work visit vanessandrieux.free.fr