So Vanessa, tell us a bit about yourself…
That’s a complicated one! Well, I talk a lot, I have a bad character, I am stubborn, a perfectionist, unsatisfied and a scatterbrain. I am a real goldfish – my memory lasts about two seconds! I am passionate, I like laughing and I am open-minded. I do not like people who take themselves seriously. I am generous, except with food! I am attentive to others and like to help people. I am clumsy, awkward, lazy and a bad cook but I am trying to make efforts to improve these things…
How long have you been a photographer?
It’s been almost 10 years.
What did you do before?
I was studying. I started photography just after getting my A-levels when I was 19 and it’s all gone from there.
How did you start out in photography?
My passion for snowboarding spurred me to start photography. I wanted to do a job which would allow me to ride, rather than being locked in an office behind a desk.
When did you realise you were successful?
It is difficult to say because it happened little by little. Every winter I improved more and more but for me, the moment I remember most is when I made the cover of Snowsurf magazine in 2003.
What inspires you?
Well, in snowboarding I like original spots where I can take pleasure in finding different angles. I love taking trips to discover new places as well. I enjoy photographing people who have something special, who radiate emotions.
Do you plan your photos or take pictures by instinct?
It is both actually. Sometimes I know what I want but it is often instinctive. I walk around the spot to find an inspiring angle and in general I try to change the place few times so that I can capture different views.
Who do you admire?
I’ve never had a mentor. It is more the pictures that inspire me – I can see photos by many different photographers and they will inspire me to try and create new things.
Where do you work now?
Well, at the moment I’m in Switzerland but I’m only here for a few days. I don’t have plans for the Spring as I prefer to see where the snow take me. It’s the only way to have good backcountry shoots.
Has this season been very hectic for you?
The winter season generally starts in October with the Snowboarding World Champs in Les Deux Alpes. This year, I was already on the run shooting photos by the beginning of October. I spent November in Austria where there was the Pleasure Jam, then I went to Mayrhofen, Hintertux and Arlberg. After that, generally, I go to the Air and Style in Munich before coming back to France where I try to photograph until Christmas. I always try to spend few days with my family in the South East of France over the festive period.
After that, the season really starts. I’ve been to so many places I can’t remember them all, but there are a lot! I generally travel a lot until June and I photograph from pillar to post – everything depends on snow conditions.
In the summer, I take a few weeks of holiday then in July I head to the glaciers. August and September are quiet months in general and I take advantage of the period to look after all my admin and reflect on my shots.
Do you actually find the time to do some snowboarding?
Well, I launched into photography to ride, which is my passion. However, since I’ve become a photographer, I have almost no time to ride any more. I am on the slopes every day but I’m always holding a big backpack with all my kit – it’s not exactly the same thing! In the first years, I was frustrated but I’ve ended up getting used to it and the passion for photography quickly replaced the lack of snowboarding.
You seem to do lots of shoots with French snowboarders Anne-Flore Marxer and Caroline Béliard…
Yes, they are two really good friends of mine and two really good riders as well. I love taking pictures with them because I know them well and we simply understand each other. I don’t often shoot with girls, so when we have the chance to be together, we always have good times.
Session on a Container
I put a frame around the camera to make this picture more dynamic.
Alberg, November 2007
It had snowed a lot and we tried to find natural spots.
Caroline Béliard in Colorado
We tried to find some original spots along the road, and somehow came across this Caterpillar. It became the mascot of the trip!
Caroline Béliard, last winter
We left Europe because there was no snow and came across some great spots in Colorado.
Vicci Miller, Alberg
We’d been hunting for some logs to shoot with and at the end of a full day of shooting, we eventually found some. We put our tiredness to one side and got some great pictures.
Rémi Handplant in Brekenridge
We looked for something to do on the park and I really liked the sun in front of the camera, it brings something new to the picture.
Words: Elisa Routa