The month of September can be a depressing time for your average Whistlerite.
The summer starts its steady decline into a gloomy fall, while the downhill diehards anxiously count the days until another ski season begins.
But for the powder junkies who can’t wait until November to get their fix, the Whistler Arts Council’s (WAC) annual Out of Bounds photography exhibit serves as a primer for the winter season, showcasing the breathtaking beauty of the backcountry as captured by 17 of the best local up-and-coming shooters.
The 33-day exhibit, which kicks off Monday (Sept. 23) at Millennium Place, asks professional and amateur photographers to submit their best backcountry shots from the year that will be judged by an esteemed panel of judges, including award-winning sports-action shooter Blake Jorgenson.
“A winning shot is one that relates to the audience the most and the people that are interested in that particular genre,” said Jorgenson, who will be judging his third Out of Bounds this year. “That, and it has to be technically sound to create the biggest impact. It also needs to have a strong element from the backcountry area.”
Jorgenson and fellow judges Todd Lawson, Les Anthony and Jordan Manley will award the $1,000 prize to the winning photographer, while the public will have until Oct. 25 to have their say and vote for their favourite shot.
Returning to defend his Out of Bounds crown will be Squamish local Mark Gribbon, who provided a glimpse into his winning formula ahead of this year’s contest.
“I like to marry the action with the environment, which I think is important in snowboarding and skiing,” he said. “Basically, we live in a beautiful place with beautiful surroundings, and the skiing and snowboarding that goes down here is mind-blowing. Bringing that mind-blowing action together with the mind-blowing environment is really what it’s all about.”
Lions Bay photographer, 40-year-old Marcus Richardson, is a relative newcomer to the event, having competed in his first Out of Bounds last year. With that experience under his belt, the Sea to Sky native said he’s worked hard to capture a “money shot” that will transport the viewer from the Scotiabank Gallery into the waist-deep snow of the backcountry.
“For me it’s not necessarily an action shot, it’s not necessarily a shot with a couple friends having fun, it’s a matter of looking through all my shooting for the course of the winter and really going through those photos that stand out and make me want to be where that photo is,” he said.
Along with the highly anticipated exhibit, there will be plenty of other ways for the Whistler faithful to celebrate the upcoming season of downhill action. The Prior Topsheet Contest returns, giving artists a chance to design a topsheet for the company’s 2015 lineup. A selection of entries will be displayed at the Out of Bounds launch party, Cabin Fever, on Tuesday (Sept. 24) until the end of the exhibit. The public can pick their favourite until Oct. 25, with the winning designer receiving a pair of custom Prior skis or a snowboard, along with one lucky voter.
For the first time, Jorgenson’s intensive Fall Outdoor Photography Summit will run in conjunction with the exhibit. Starting next Thursday (Sept. 26), Jorgenson, who will be joined by instructors Jordan Manley, Scott Serfas and Eric Berger, leads two separate, three-day hands-on workshops for outdoor photographers to sharpen their skills. The general outdoor workshop will focus on landscape, photojournalism, light action and lifestyle photography, and will feature three days of shooting and lectures. Registration is $750. The second workshop is for those interested in action sport and adventure photography. The workshop costs $900, with each day featuring an outdoor shoot with local pro athletes and lectures and presentations in the evening.
“It’s really hard to learn this stuff from the Internet, it’s lot of confusing technical stuff, so I think what people are going to walk away with is a great understanding of photographic process and figuring how to go and get their photos and capture their adventures better,” Jorgenson said.
Out of Bounds sets off the winter season Monday at Millennium Place. The Cabin Fever Launch Party starts at 7:30 p.m. the following day, also at Millennium Place, where the Scotiabank Gallery will be transformed into a rustic ski cabin, with a live DJ, food and plenty of prizes to give away. Attendees to the free event can mingle with all of the participating photographers and judges, and are encouraged to sport their favourite retro winter gear.