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 AB turned BC photographer Duncan Sadava.
DUNCAN SADAVA FAST FACTS
Hometown: Edmonton AB
Current town: Whistler BC
Years snowboarding: Lots (I’m old)
Years photographing: A bunch (I’m not sure)
Side hustle (if any): CERB
Go to camera set up: Depends on the feature. Canon 5Dmk3 & 70-200mm f2.8 is my workhorse. Hoping to grab an R5 sometime soon.
Claim to fame: My uncle told me William Shatner is our distant cousin. Maybe that’s it?
Q+A WITH DUNCAN SADAVA
How did you get into snowboarding?
DS: My parents aren’t really skiers, so I didn’t start skiing I was about 10. When we got up there and I saw people snowboarding I instantly knew I wanted to do that instead. That was around the time I was getting into skateboarding too, and if you’re a skater living in Edmonton your options are either trying to evade security guards in heated parkades for 6 straight months, or go snowboarding. As soon as I learned to link turns on a snowboard I was obsessed.
How did you get into shooting?
DS: I always liked playing with cameras, and then when I was 18 my Grandpa passed away and I ended up with all of his 70s era DSLR stuff. I had no idea what I was doing, and the learning process was really slow and expensive. I wasted a ton of film but every now and then I would get lucky and get a photo that I liked.
When did you first merge the two?
DS: Back then all we had to look at for the whole off-season was last year’s videos and magazines, and I was a junkie for both. While most of my buddies were focused on the riding I developed an appreciation for the photos and admiration for the legendary photogs of the glory days. I started carrying a little point-and-shoot camera in my pocket to try to get photos of my friends hitting tiny kickers in the river valley in Edmonton, and it gradually progressed from there.
Where is your favourite place to shoot?
DS: I love being out in the backcountry. My teenage years were spent staring at photos in Snowboard Canada, most of which were tagged with ’Whistler Backcountry’. In my mind, these mountains were the promised land and I knew I had to make the pilgrimage someday. I’ve been exploring the sea-to-sky backcountry for over a decade now and it still feels like a dream.
Do you have “regulars” that you work with? (athletes, clients, locations, etc..)
DS: I run the photography program for Powder Mountain Catskiing & Heliskiing, which is a lot of fun and keeps me pretty busy. Aside from that, I try to get out as much as possible with local film crews around Whistler. Sea-to-sky shredders hit me up!
What was your favourite shoot from this season?
DS: I spent 3 days in February shooting with Reuben Krabbe for the ‘Uprising’ competition (formerly known as Deep Winter). Reuben is an insanely talented and creative photographer. We teamed up with an audio engineer (Jeff Warren from Quest University) who produced a musical creation entirely from ‘found sounds’ recorded on Whistler Blackcomb, and then we made our slideshow based around the sounds. We had an awesome crew and good conditions, overall it was a great experience and I was really happy with the end result. I think it’s still linked in my IG bio if anyone is interested. Shoutout to Reuben and Jeff and the crew!
Anything you’re itching to shoot?
DS: Hard to say what this winter has in store for us, but I’d like shoot (and ride) some big mountain stuff, and do some bigger missions and overnights. And actually, I’d like to get out on some rail missions too. I don’t often shoot jibbing these days but I still think it’s awesome. I have a lot of love for skateboarding and its influence on snowboarding and snowboard culture. Oh, and also pow surfing!
Where can we see your work?
DS: IG: @duncansadava, duncansadava.com, and occasionally in print.
Career highlight to date?
DS: Participating in Uprising was definitely a highlight. I saw so many of my favourite photographers on stage at Deep Winter over the years, so it was a crazy feeling being up there myself. And I got my first oversized novelty cheque, which was cool.
What’s keeping you busy these days?
DS: I’ve mostly been laying low this summer, but spending as much time as possible outside. Lately, I’ve started preparing for winter, getting all my gear sorted out, planning some trips, and taking some courses to level up my backcountry travel skill-set.
Music when you edit?
DS: I’m all over the map. My ‘recently played’ list says Khruangbin, Black Pumas, Anderson.paak, August Burns Red, Propagandhi. I’m also big into podcasts; FnRad, Airtime, Bombhole, and Dark Starts are some of my favourite snowboard podcasts.
DS: Big shoutout to Snowboard Canada and all the other shred mags that are still fighting the good fight to keep print media alive. I would not be here doing what I’m doing without y’all. Keep on keepin on.
Exclusive photos in print – hitting the press soon!
More inspirational photogs here.