I first heard Ashley Rosemeyer’s name when she was the shooter at Sugarbush Resort in Vermont. Sugarbush had been steadily gaining recognition for its creative terrain parks (a hot lappin’ oasis led by the one-and-only Tony Chiuchiolo) and through her handiwork with a Canon, Ashley broadcast the Sugarbush Parks blue and orange way beyond the Green Mountain State. Her photos were a window into the burgeoning snowboard scene in Northern New England, rooted in Ashley’s excitement to think outside the box when it comes to angles and framing when telling the story of the riders on the come up in Vermont. For her subjects, their efforts in the often blistering cold of the Northeast is always graciously hard won. And for Ashley, the ethos is the same: shoot often, work hard, share with others–the last one is a hallmark of @thrashley_photo as she’s a thoughtful collaborator, always eager to lift others around her up. These qualities have amplified her POV throughout snowboarding, skateboarding, and beyond. Ashley’s photos have been printed in every major snowboarding magazine and she’s a major supporter of female riders, logging plenty of time in the streets with The Uninvited crew over the past few seasons. The Pittsburgh native has shot skateboarding for The Skate Witches and Vans, well as campaigns for brands like Coal, Ben & Jerry’s, and Cabot Cheese, among others. Each year, I am lucky to get to hang out with Ashley a few times throughout the season, usually on the deck of a quartpipe or while hiking around along the edge of a trail to find a long lens angle. I always am excited to get to catch up with her, because Ashley’s perspective in snowboarding (and beyond) is not only visually compelling, but also thoughtful and collaborative. In short, Ashley is the kind of person in snowboarding we need more of, so we though we would kick off the first installation of In Focus by by zooming in on her. – Mary T. Walsh
Break down your gear for us.
Depends on what I am shooting but, primarily: Canon R5, 70-200mm, 10mm fisheye, and 24-70mm would be my go to kit. For lighting, I have really been digging everything by Godox.
What made you decide to go mirrorless with the R5? What are you digging about it so far?
I was on the fence for a while for a new camera. I was on [Aaron] Blatt’s old Mark III and needed a serious upgrade. I’ve had friends of friends that were either shooting with the R5 or R6 and I was really split both ways. Blatt called me out of the blue (I had posted an IG story asking for opinions) and he really, really sold me on the R5. Everything from the focus, fps, and the interface has drastically improved and I like how compact it is. Also, another selling point was Blatt mentioned that the adapter didn’t really affect any quality in the glass or previous EF lenses. Not having to start from scratch with all RF lenses completely sold me, so I sent it and I’m hyped I did!!
Which came first, photography or snowboarding? And how did they come together for you?
Photography came first. I have always had a camera by my side for as long as I can remember. Growing up, I would watch Fuel TV and I would watch Tracking Eero non-stop. I was so obsessed with the culture and everything surrounding snowboarding. I would even fake practice setting up the lighting in my living room and write down notes when they shared the behind the shot on that show. It wasn’t until I was around 16 that I hopped on a board and I have been hooked ever since.
You studied photography in college—what was that like and what sort of unique perspectives and/or insights does that give you when shooting snowboarding (and skateboarding, etc)?
It was very different, ha! I went to a fine arts college so, no one really understood where I was coming from when I said I wanted to pursue a career in being a professional snowboard photographer. There wasn’t a digital photography program there at the time that I started, so I pretty much learned everything I know about photography from shooting film. Going to a fine arts college definitely changed my perspective on how I shoot. I tend to look at things from more of an artistic side and find a spot that is aesthetically pleasing and imagine the rider in the scene.
How has living on the East Coast, growing up in Pennsylvania and then moving to Northern Vermont, contributed to your photography?
People are very blunt and not afraid to tell you how they really feel in Pittsburgh, PA. You have to hustle in that city and you can’t let the haters get you down. I started off shooting skateboarding when I was around maybe 17/18, and it was really cutthroat. I remember submitting photos to my first prominent skate mag out of PA early on and the photo editor would just reply, “Nahhh.” Haha, it definitely gives you thicker skin and it honestly made me want it even more. Once I graduated college and made the move to Vermont, being a bit more comfortable behind the lens, I fell in love with the community here. Vermont really pushed me to hone in my style, and being within reach of some of the best riders on the East Coast has helped me push myself further and further each year.
How did working at Sugarbush shape your photography?
I would straight up not be here today without Sugarbush Parks. Mainly shooting skateboarding and wanting to push myself further as a snowboard photographer, there’s no better place to do so than Sugarbush Parks. Why? Their park is set up like a skatepark. Features going up hill, sideways, transitions… I have never seen a park set up like this. Tony Chiuchiolo (RIP) let me have free reign creatively while shooting there. The team riders have become some of my best friends, which helps when your trying to create something and they really trust your vision. Whether it was climbing a tree or lift tower, they always had my back. There is a entrepreneurial drive in Vermont that extends into the skateboarding and snowboarding community that keeps me creatively motivated.
What inspired you in snowboarding (or outside of it) when you were first shooting and helped you to hone your perspective and style?
I grabbed inspiration pretty much from all of the above. The Team Shoot Out videos back in the day were always so dope. I couldn’t wait to see the footage and the photos that came out of those shoots. Behind the Cover videos with the photog always got me so hyped. It was cool to hear their perspective on the spot and why they chose the lighting and angle they ended up with. Overall, I would cut out my favorite photos from the pages of Thrasher, Snowboard Mag, etc. and analyze them everyday. I love the rawness of photos shot back in the 90’s and early 2000’s–unedited, raw, and in your face are my biggest draws of inspiration.
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You have spent a lot of time documenting female snowboarders, whether riders in VT, shooting with The Uninvited crew, or at women’s events like IT’S TITS! and Ms Superpark. Was this a considered choice to or just sort of happened?
It just sort of happened. When I first started at Sugarbush, there were some solid female riders that were killing it in the parks that I never saw photos of. I would make sure anytime I was out shooting that I would get photos of them and set aside time to get a good shot of a trick they have been hyped on. They deserve just as much shine as the dudes and we were all homies in a crew together. I think I had approached Pat Bridges my first year at Sugarbush for the opportunity to get out to Ms Superpark with some of the ladies on the ‘Bush snowboard team, and we all got the invite to send it to Mammoth that year, in 2014. That’s when it really clicked for me to put as much shine as I could on female riders. I have never seen so many females ripping in one place and it was so sick. So much energy and hype from hiking, people trying tricks with their favorite pros, and ladies being so hyped to be in front of the lens. That feeling is like no other.
What riders are you shooting with lately that get you excited about snowboarding? Are there any up-and-comers you’ve been out with that folks should watch out for?
I spent this past season primarily shooting with Maggie Leon. I am so hyped on her. I have been watching her snowboard since she was 15 or 16 years old and she has really grown into her style. She is such an incredible person. She is on one right now. Can’t wait for her part to drop for The Uninvited 3!
What kind of situation, spot, etc. gets you really excited to shoot lately?
Not a down bar, that’s for sure, ha! Something weird and unique that you gotta figure out before you set up. Raw and crusty, too, of course. If the spot doesn’t make you think a little bit about your trick selection and how your going to shoot it, it ain’t it.
There are only a handful of female photographers currently shooting snowboarding. In your opinion, what can we do as an industry and community to support women photographers, both existing and aspiring?
We need to be included in projects, not just female projects–all projects. We can’t continue to push for female equality in the industry if we aren’t helping and pushing for the females behind the scenes, as well. We are all in this together and if we are going to really make some change in this industry, we have to include all aspects of it. For the riders out there, next time you are pitching a project, think of the female photogs/videographers that would help bring that project to life. It’s a lot harder to reach out to companies and brands out of the blue, and hearing your name come from a trusted rider will go a lot further.
What gets you excited every year to keep shooting snowboarding? What keeps things fresh?
Experimenting with different techniques within photography to try out in the field. Going to small towns and finding weird spots. Shooting with riders that like to ride weird unique features.
Outside of snowboarding, who are some of your favorite photographers and why?
Tal Roberts, I would have to say, is one of my favorite photogs. What I love most about his work is it doesn’t really matter what he’s shooting. He has some of the most unique angles, lighting, and approach to his subject matter. Another one of my favorites outside of the snowboard world is Matt Price. His images are so raw and you can feel the movement in them.
What else inspires you?
Being out in nature, skateboarding, biking. There are so many people that are truly living out their dream and pushing for it on a daily basis.
You also work for Driven Studios in Burlington, Vermont. What kind of photography do you do there and how does that compliment your snowboarding work and contribute to your creativity, overall?
I shoot mainly product, food, and lifestyle photography there. I work a lot with clients like Ben & Jerry’s, Cabot Cheese, Seventh Generation, and Tazo Tea, to name a few. Shooting in this environment has definitely made me more confident behind the lens and working with clients and talent, and has also made me better at lighting. Working at Driven has definitely complimented my snowboarding work. I can set up my lighting out in the field faster and with more confidence. It has also helped me with directing riders and making them feel comfortable when shooting more lifestyle/brand focused work.
If you have to choose one camera to shoot with for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?
Oof. That’s tough. I absolutely love my Pentax 6×7, but film is very expensive. I am really loving this Canon R5 right now.
What is one non-camera-related item you always keep with you in your camera bag?
Recently there has been a reemergence of zines, photo books, and creative photo projects. Have you been checking any of these out? If so, what have you been enjoying?
Loving that there is a reemergence of this. I am trying my best to be on top of everything coming out. As of right now, Skate Witches are killing it with their zine. Highly recommend it. Heroes, of course. Also, Curator, Being Green, Club Sandwich… There are so many to name! Keep ’em coming. It’s so rad to have a coffee table book and to have something so special come back into the forefront.
If you had to describe your shooting style in one sentence, what would you say?
I would like to think that my shooting style is gritty and raw, just like my favorite East Coast spots.
Follow Ashley on Instagram at @thrashley_photo for more.