- Buyer's Guide
Specialist Carry :: Alpine Photographer
Andrew Fawcett loves to capture the passion of snowboarding not only by being on the board but by being behind the lens as well. Needing to go where the snow is means needing to haul heavy camera equipment through terrain that is often tough to navigate and demanding on carry gear – so naturally we thought this adventure-ready alpine photographer would be a great fit for our Specialist Carry series…
Give us an insight into your world as a photographer?
I love capturing special split seconds, that’s why I do it. I like interacting with my subjects. Different jobs require different approaches. From planned researched shoots with a desired image outcome to shoots that have no direction at all, where you end up with what you end up with. Sometimes they’re the best – it’s fun improvising.
What kinds of stuff do you do?
I shoot sport, people and still life.
How did you get involved in snowboard photography? Was it the snow or the snaps that started you off?
I am a keen snowboarder and skateboarder and was always really interested in the photography and filming side of them. So it was natural as I got older to get more and more behind the lens.
What motivates you to do what you do besides the rad end result of a killer photo?
First of all I love being in the mountains and outdoors, I find it a refreshing environment and the adventures we go on are always entertaining and worth it regardless of what I produce image-wise.
Do you have a favourite saying that you draw on for inspiration?
Not really in words. But I do always keep in mind that having the intention and putting in the effort to make an image no matter what the conditions and variables, something usually comes of it. The worst case scenario is a laugh with friends and riders.
Who’s really doing rad things in the world of snowboard photography or any photography and why?
There are so many great photographers around, I follow all different styles and admire all of their work. The ones who stand out are the ones who tend to break rules and trends, too many names to drop. Everyone has a different taste and mine may be different to yours and the next guy’s. No one is “the best”, it’s just what they got done that day and how lucky they were or made their luck to be there that day.
What are some of the details that you find essential for camera bags?
For snow, camera bodies, lenses, memory cards, filters, spare batteries, lens cloths and blower. Sometimes I’ll bring flash gear and a tripod but generally try to keep my bag as light as possible.
What things suck to carry?
Heavy flash packs, flash gear, stands.
Have you ever lost a lens or something while on shoot?
I’ve water/snow damaged a lens and lenses have broken in my bag. That’s it. I’ve been lucky.
You spend a whole lot of time snow-bound, what does the chilly environment demand from your gear?
Just protection from the elements for me really. When it’s really cold I keep spare batteries in my breast pocket so the cold doesn’t suck all the power out of them.
How do you protect your gear when on shoot?
Try not to drop it.
Is that the biggest challenge you face while shooting in snow?
Yeah, pretty much – and to know when to put it away in snowy conditions.
What gear do you run when you’re working?
Canon 1DX body – it’s super fast and great in low light. Canon 5D Mark II – backup camera and sometimes I set it up as a second angle.
Depending on the day and what I’m shooting I’ll take different lenses. The Canon 70-200mm 2.8 is always in the bag – it’s a great all-round lens and super sharp.
Canon 4-70mm USM11 2.8 which is new and way better than the first one.
Canon Fisheye 2.8 which is good for making little spots look bigger, I used to use it a lot but find I don’t use it much anymore.
Sometimes I’ll bring a fixed 28mm 1.4 shallow depth of field and a Canon 50mm 1.2 – great lens.
Canon 16-35mm 2.8 but I usually don’t use them. I switch things around a lot. You get sick of using the same gear as you’ll always end up with the same-looking work.
PocketWizards and a mixture of Canon and Profoto lighting gear.
And a Burton Resolution Pack. It’s awesome because is sturdy, not to bulky and lightweight.
Do other carry products such as messenger bags, rollers, hard shells, etc. have features that give you ideas for photo bags?
Only Pelican cases when I travel and I have a Think Tank shoulder camera bag. Burton rollers, board bags and camera packs have always lasted well and been great for me…
What’s one great thing you’ve learned from all of your years of photography?
One thing is the more you do the more you learn; it takes time. I’m always learning and most things click from experience or mistakes. I have a long way to go and look forward to it.
You are obviously someone who is always traveling, thus always carrying. What are some challenges you face with all this travel?
The more gear you have or acquire, the more you want to travel with. The difficult thing is to pick what you need for the job before you’re at the job.
What would make traveling with all your gear easier?
Do you have any tips or habits from the road you can share?
Mmm, never be grumpy around others no matter how tired, overworked, hungover or whatever it is that you’re dealing with and appreciate being on the road at the time because next week you might be stuck in an office.
What travel gear do you run? Why is it awesome?
I use Burton camera packs and Pelican cases mainly. They are awesome because they are black, not too heavy before loading up and most of all they protect my camera gear.
Any nightmare travel stories?
Not really, just the usual running late for flights and things like that.
What’s the gnarliest story you’ve got from your time spent shooting snowboarding?
There are many but one was a few years ago when we were cat boarding in Fernie BC. It was a -20 overcast powder day and our small crew of 4 with 2 guides were trying to find decent features to shoot in a mellow terrain area.
We found a natural step down jump about 60 feet to the landing in a bumpy powder field. The snow was between 1 and 3 feet deep and extremely variable sticky in parts. One of the riders tried to double backflip it and undershot, landing on his neck pretty heavily. He was in high pain, clearly unable to be moved as spinal damage was highly possible.
There was no ski patrol in the area and it was too tight for the heli to land where he was so the rest of us dragged a super old and ridiculously heavy banana boat from the bottom of the area up to the rider through the deep pow, the entire time believing he was really badly injured.
He got heli-lifted from the bottom and after spending a night in hospital getting all sorts of tests done it turned out he had bad sprains and no spinal damage. Lucky!
What single photography moment has given you the biggest smile?
Little things, the smiles you get from people after working with them makes me happy.
What’s next for you?
I am pretty busy for the rest of the year with different projects which is great. To keep progressing with photography and being able to make the time to do some fun personal projects along the way. Thanks, Carryology, for the interview. 🙂