Sometimes spotlight shy, snowboard photographers are usually just as rowdy as the riders they capture. This is a series where we get them out from behind the lens and say, “Hey, tell us about yourself.” On this Photog feature, we catch up with the talented Ben Girardi.
BEN GIRARDI FAST FACTS
Hometown: I grew up in Syracuse, New York riding Labrador Mountain.
Current town: Pemberton, British Columbia.
Years snowboarding: 23
Years photographing: 15
Go to camera set up: I shoot Canon and have been using the 5DMKIV for the past few years. My most used lens shooting snowboarding is a 70-200 but I love getting in close with a fisheye when the conditions are right.
Claim to fame: I make pretty good pizza. Thin crust, New York Style.
Q+A WTH BEN GIRARDI
How did you get into snowboarding?
BG: I learned how to ski when I first moved to New York at five. Two years later I wanted to try snowboarding. At the end of the season my parents rented me a board and got me a lesson. I was young but still have memories of doing the falling leaf down the bunny slope with the rope tow. On the second day I was able to take the chairlift. Those two days finished out the winter. I got a used board that fall, and was hooked. The hill was about 20 minutes from our house and open at night so I got dropped off after school a lot for night riding. I was pretty addicted to snowboarding from the get go and it wasn’t long before it consumed my life. I got my first snowboarding movie not long after and it was pretty much on constant repeat. Being in New York I was drawn to street rails, always filming with friends and dreaming of moving out west. After a few years in Utah I’ve made it up BC where thankfully there is much more powder in my life then metal rails.
How did you get into shooting?
BG: When I was in the ninth grade I had the opportunity to take a photography class at my high school. We learned the basics of photography and how to develop in the darkroom. Over the course of high school I had three different teachers. One teacher worked as a sports photographer for the nearby university as well as teaching the class I was in. This really showed me that doing photography as a job was a possibility.
When did you first merge the two?
BG: I don’t remember exactly when I shot my first snowboard photograph but it would have been within my last few years of high school. My friends and I were already getting out hitting street rails around Syracuse. We would alternate filming each other to make a movie at the end of each season. At some point, I started bringing out my camera and would take time off hitting the rail to shoot photos instead. One of my early photos of a friend doing a 5-0 on a rail made it into the reader-submitted section that Transworld used to run.
Where is your favourite place to shoot?
BG: From my experience nothing quite compares to shooting in Alaska. The mountains there are on a totally different scale. Plus it’s hard to beat the contrast you get from an entire mountainside of spines. A lot of factors need to line up though to make shooting in Alaska happen and be worthwhile.
Do you have “regulars” that you work with?
BG: It varies from season to season of who I shoot with the most. This past winter I spent a lot of days out with Beau Bishop. I always try and get a few days in with the ManBoys. In past seasons I spent a lot of time with Robin Van Gyn, Leanne Pelosi and the entire Full Moon Crew. I’m down to shoot with anybody that is willing to work hard, and be productive.
What was your favourite shoot from this season?
BG: My favourite shoot from this past season was a shoot in Japan for Zeal Optics. Shooting in Japan is like nothing else, and we had nearly constant snow throughout the entire two days of shooting. I was working with a crew of all good friends who I have known for years, so even though there was pressure from the shoot we were all having a super fun time shredding waist deep powder.
Anything you’re itching to shoot?
BG: I genuinely love snowboarding, so at this point of the year I’m really excited about the upcoming winter and getting back into the mountains to shoot snowboarding. Riding with friends on powder days and being able to capture their love of the sport.
Career highlight to date?
BG: The highlight of my career so far was when I got my first cover of a print magazine. I would always cut the covers off magazines and put them on my wall. In my mind the images that appear as the cover of a magazine are the best of the best. To have an image chosen to represent an entire publication is a huge honour.
Getting a cover was a goal since I started seriously shooting snowboarding and with the unfortunate state of print media across the entire industry with less publications and less issues makes this more and more difficult each year. Still have yet to get a cover of SBC though!
What’s keeping you busy these days?
BG: My wife and I recently welcomed our first child in September. At this point my time is pretty occupied by learning this new routine. The rest of my time is filled with planning for winter and lining up shoots.
Music when you edit?
BG: I have music going in the background, but I’m not super particular about what I listen too. Spotify Discover Weekly is my jam. It always seems to have what I in the mood for.
Anything you are planning on doing this season?
BG: At this point with the current state of the world and the ongoing pandemic there are a lot of unknowns. I hope to get out as much as possible in the backcountry snowmobiling, shooting photos, and of course riding pow.