Don’t take ski touring pictures, create them

Fredrik Schenholm

Fredrik is an award-winning adventure photographer and qualified geologist. He photographs both commercially and editorially, and teaches photography, too. Fredrik’s pictures have been published all over the world by companies and publications such as National Geographic, Outside Magazine, Bergans of Norway, Subaru Cars and Fjällräven. He’s worked on six continents, from 7,000m of altitude in the Himalayas to 120m below the surface in an Icelandic magma chamber. Fredrik is also the founder of Snösä and Detvildagö and lives with his wife and two children in Gothenburg.

Photography is a love affair with the mountains

There are several aspects that contribute to making ski touring something extraordinary. Nature, the challenge and the sense of freedom are some of them. Shadows traipsing across beautiful mountain faces. Clouds creating drama in the big sky. The winds injecting dynamism into the otherwise placid landscape. These are experiences that few get to enjoy, yet as ski tourers, we’re right in their midst. We don’t have a choice – we have to experience them. The interplay between wind, clouds and shadows. We’re outside during long days where nature’s characteristics are in constant flux. To capture these as images is a grand challenge. But with a bit of will and a modicum of thought it can work well. It’s up to you and me to mediate, because nature will always play her part.

The photographer makes the picture, not the camera

Mobile phone, compact camera, hybrid camera or system camera? Call it what you will. How are you supposed to navigate this particular equipment jungle? When it comes down to it, the equipment is less important than what you do with it. Today we’re spoilt by beautiful photographs on Instagram and Facebook. Many of these are shot with high-quality mobile phone cameras. It’s both quick and convenient to capture photographs with your mobile phone. Hower, this is also its Achilles’ heel. Sometimes it’s just too quick and easy. No love is spent during the photography act.

It’s the thought that counts

Unless you also have a thought behind your shot, neither a novel composition, nor attractive lighting will result in a good picture. Neither will the use of a compact camera or system camera. But sometimes it can be an advantage to carry a larger, more cumbersome camera on a ski tour. Partly because in doing so you put a degree of pressure on yourself to actually take some pictures, and partly because such cameras do offer greater flexibility and picture quality. The important thing is to obtain the equipment that suits you. But even more important is to actually pull the camera out and capture some images.

There are no shortcuts

It’s a challenge to capture that perfect and beautiful ski touring picture. I’m always counting on additional physical exertions beyond those required by the ski tour itself. Something I always do is to take myself off from the group in order to capture the small people in the grand and beautiful environment. This means that I eventually have to get myself back to the group, which then by all accounts will have moved on from me a fair bit. It often also means extra time. Both the time taken to divert from the fastest route to the summit, but also time taken away from the mental meditation that is part of what ski touring offers. Since I always watch and think about nature’s interplay, I rarely get into that relaxing meditative groove. But the challenge to find the different angles and beautiful light is a strong driver.

Distance from the group gives closeness to nature

There are a few golden tricks to ensure your pictures stand out. The one I use the most is to put distance between myself and the group in order to capture small people against striking surroundings. It’s not a mountain guide’s dream scenario to let participants strike out on their own, but if you demonstrate an interest in photography and have a dialog, guides can often find safe segments of the tour where this is possible. Where you need to remain in the group you can find amusing angles for your shots. Between the legs, through your goggles, or why not along the skis. That way you can include unusual elements in the picture which help capture the attention of the viewer.

Frilägg det lilla och komponera mera

Friläggning är ett annat trix som kan göra bilder väldigt rena och vackra. Ett exempel är när någon går på en kam och är placerad rent och fint mot himlen i bakgrunden. Då framhävs det viktiga. Personen i bilden. Eller som tidigare nämnts, den lilla människan i den mäktiga miljön. Och sist men inte minst. Komposition. Tänk på att alltid lägga horisontlinjen i övre eller under tredjedelen av bilden. Det enkla knepet skiljer verkligen agnarna från vetet. Men det kanske bästa rådet för att fotografera bättre är att hitta glädjen med att ta bilder.

Photography is great but pictures in your computer is better

I struggle to enjoy a ski tour without my camera equipment. Nature’s always at play with the light, and when that magic opportunity presents itself, I want to capture it. Photography is for me both a blessing and a curse. My obsession has made it more difficult for me to truly enjoy and experience nature. But the reward comes from the hunting and seeking. That I constantly during the ski tour seek unique compositions and light conditions to capture that perfect picture. And when suddenly everything falls into place, the combination of the person, the light and nature, the high is incredible. Then I know that if I’ve had a good day on the mountain with the camera the real photographic reward awaits once I’ve uploaded the pictures onto the computer. Try it, I promise it’s worth it!

To top