Portfolio: Christy Chaloux

Comments by Tawnya Schultz/

Becoming a professional photographer is rough, let alone a female snowboard one. The demand of carrying heavy bags of equipment up and down mountains and the pressure of directing and snapping a shot while the rider is moving doesn't appeal to most, but for some it's their passion. While breaking into the already infiltrated industry is also a major obstacle, becoming a professional snowboard photographer is a job comprising of drive, talent and a little luck.

For Northwest local, Christy Chaloux, it was one of those right place, right time scenarios. While snowboarding was an obvious passion growing up, after landing a job at High Cascade Snowboard Camp in the early 2000's, with no photography experience, Christy ended up running the Photo Camp. She began to get real knowledgable with the shooting side of the sport. Christy was able to meet some of the best photogs in the industry including Tim Zimmerman and Kevin Zacher, and found herself shooting for fun with girls on the mountain who she was friends with.

One thing led to another and Christy has become one of the top female specific photogs in the game. Look for her photos in a feature story from Southern Colorado coming out this fall, but for now get to know a little bit more about Miss Christy Chaloux.

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Where's your current residence?
50 percent Portland & 50 percent Warrenton, Oregon.

Where did you grow up?
On the Northern Oregon Coast, in the woods near Seaside.

Did you go to school for photography?
Nope, I went to school for business management.

How did you get into snowboarding and shooting photos?
Between the years 1992 and 2000 I ditched a lot of school to go snowboarding on Mt. Hood. When I graduated from college I got a job with Vans at High Cascade Snowboard Camp. While I worked there, photography kept falling in my lap. I was assigned to manage the High Cascade Photography Workshop and did that for a few of years before I picked up a camera. Trevor Graves encouraged me to start shooting, and Kevin Zacher suggested I shoot some of the girl snowboarders because they where all my friends. In 2004 after having used a 35mm SLR for almost one year, I quit my job at High Cascade to shoot snowboarding full-time.

Do you prefer shooting with guys or girls?
Girls. I love the storytelling aspect of photography and the girls crews move a little slower, so there tend to be more comprehensive stories on a given trip. I don't mind taking a little more time on the way to shoot action because there is always something going on that is interesting and worth shooting.

It would be easier to get a lot more photos published if I shot with guys. Last season a third of the shots I had published were of guys and I only shot guys a total of five days. There just seems to be a lot more space available for guys content. A couple of years ago when I started to get invited to go out with guy crews I had to choose a direction for my career. Did I care so much about getting more photos published in a magazine that I was willing to walk away from who I really wanted to shoot with? If my goal was to see how many photos I can get published in a magazine, I would have taken a much different path. I don't mean to neglect my responsibility to my subject or the audience, I just want to remain true to myself and shoot what I enjoy most.

What have been some of your favorite trips?
In 2008 I went to Shandyland with Natasza Zurek, Anne Flore Marxer, Janna Meyen and Leanne Pelosi. That was a great trip because we had good weather and snow conditions. Shandy took us to some really good terrain which made the trip super productive.

I just went on a Snowboard Mag trip to Southern Colorado this January with Kimmy Fasani, Hana Beman and Cheryl Maas. We also had good weather and great conditions. The crew dynamic was great and everyone was super motivated.

Do you have any mentors?|
So many people have helped out a long the way, Melissa Larsen and Jon Steele at SG taught me a lot and let me intern in the Primedia office one summer. Tim Zimmerman helped me out with some lighting techniques my first season shooting. The folks at the Oregon ASMP Chapter have been helpful for writing contracts and photo industry specific business strategies. Cherie Hiser has been a great teacher and has offered perspective of a lifelong career. I have some new friends at Lightbox Studio in Astoria who I'm excited to learn from.

What snowboard photographers do you look up to?
I'm drawn to photographers who have a strong vision of who they are as photographers and who are good storytellers. Some of my favorites are Martin Parr, Larry Towell and Alec Soth.

Do you see yourself shooting for the long term?
Yes. There is so much to learn and so many things to shoot, I don't see myself ever getting bored. I love spending time with photographers who have been shooting their entire lives, whether they are professional or not, a lifetime of shooting is rewarding in many ways.

What else would you like to do in the future?
I'd like to do more with organizations who work on humanitarian issues. The first trip I ever took for photography was to Nepal to shoot families in rural Eastern villages who had been affected by Maoist Terrorism. I'd like to do more work telling stories that can potentially bring aide to those in need. I really like the idea of exposing injustice.

What else do you have planned for the season?
Right now I'm on my way to a Roxy shoot in Mammoth, working with Peepshow on a couple features. I'm going to Ms. Superpark for the first time in five years too. Other than that I'm spending a bit more time at home this season to plan my wedding in May.

What's it really like being a snowboard photographer? I'm sure people on the outside think it's all glamorous, but what are the obstacles you face?
It's great to have the opportunity to travel to a lot of cool places to shoot snowboarding, but the travel is also an obstacle because I miss my friends and family at home. I've been absent to a lot of birthdays and holidays because I was away shooting snowboarding.

I was recently on a trip where we stayed in a cabin on top of a mountain that didn't have a bathroom, so we had to go outside to pee. Trying to pee on the top of a mountain in the howling wind in the middle of the night was an obstacle for me.

What equipment you running?
Canon Mark 5D Mark II (love, love this camera), 15mm, 50mm, 24-70mm, 70-200mm, Canon 500ex, some Sunpak 555's, Lumedyne Ranger RX, some pocket wizards, light meter and a couple umbrellas. More often than not my bag has three lenses and a camera body in it. I'm a minimalist and a fan of natural light. When it's there I'm going to use it.

What are some of your favorite photos you've taken?
Some of my favorite photos were shot last season. One of my favorites is of Sarka [Pancochova] jumping through a window of an abandoned hospital in Andorra. Another favorite is from the same trip of Sarka doing a little ollie on a snowy sidewalk. I asked some Spanish people who were watching her snowboard out the window of their hotel room, if I could come shoot from their room. They had just finished their Siesta. It was just awesome to jump out of my comfort zone and immerse myself in a different culture, all while getting a unique angle on an otherwise minimal trick.

I've been posting fresh photos from last season on my blog every Wednesday, so some of my favorites are posted there. www.christychaloux.com