Words by Max Allcock & Milo McSenderson
(A complete bibliography of links to all things discussed in this article can be found at the end)
A wise man once said, “if you’re getting rad and there’s no one there to see it, are you really getting rad?” The answer is no, obviously. Sometimes we need a little help showcasing our radness and sometimes we want to help others showcase their radness too.
If you’ve been looking for a comprehensive guide on how to start capturing all the brilliance we see our pals and pros get up to on the slope then look no further. We’ve teamed up with photographer and videographer extraordinaire Max Allcock to bring you the best advice on how to capture the perfect shot and piece together the perfect edit from the slopes.
We’ve got some general tips and tricks as well as the dopest gear recommendations for all budgets as well as the inside scoop on how to absorb information from across the community!
The Basics of Snowsports Media
It might sound obvious but the first thing you need to do before you’re snapping the stunts is to know your subject. Knowing what you’re watching, shooting and trying to capture is going to really save you some time and energy. Understanding where riders are going to take off and land, which way they’re spinning or sliding or which line they’re going to take is going to get you in the right position early; you’ll spend more time focusing on composition than your position. This is going to really help so you won't be running everywhere around the slope trying to get the best shot only to run out of breath first before you run out of batteries.
Making sure your riding skills are up to scratch is going to make a huge difference to your ability to access certain bits of terrain, if you’re in the backcountry, or hit features to do some sick follow cams in the park. If you’re reading this you have probably already got the basics down, but it’s never a bad idea to brush up on those skills so that you can again focus on the job at hand: capturing the send!
Imbibing the culture is also key. Get involved with the community; watch X Games, edits on Newschoolers or Snowboarder Mag, and look at other photographer’s work and see what you like/dislike about them. This is all very personal and you’ll only learn to add flavour to your work as you grow and get inspired. Skiers and boarders generally love to chat shit about all things snowsports so get invovled! This will not only give you way more knowledge but show the passion and drive that people have in the industry which will only make you want to capture more content! There are some awesome people behind the lens out there and some are faves are here:
What Equipment Do You Need on the Mountain?
Obviously you lovely budding photographers and videographers are going to need something to capture all that good content on. This gear guide section is going to have both hardware and software recommendations from a range of price points from basically nothing to a decent chunk of moola as an investment. So whatever is left in your bank after you’ve shopped big on the AfterJam store or bought a bunch of pints on a Friday night, we’ve got options for ya!
Low End or Practically Free
Most of us are rocking some kind of smartphone these days so the ‘free’ category makes some kind of assumption that you’ve got one of these in your pocket. If you’ve unplugged from the matrix and are using a flip phone, the recommendations for free software in this segment are gonna be really useful but you’ll need to go to the action cams section to get your shooting game on!
Most people underestimate the potential and power in modern smartphones. You can do so much with just the phone. Being able to shoot, edit and upload all on the same device is pretty spectacular (although Max recommends editing video on a computer, we’ll get onto that shortly). You can definitely get the clips/shots at the session and edit and upload them to the ‘gram all while your buddy is giving you a lift home!
Some great free phone software for photography editing for your phone are: Snapseed, LightX and Airbrush and with some costs, but much more flexibility are Adobe Lightroom and VSCO. These are Max’s personal favourites as they allow you so much flexibility to retouch and colour grade, really helping get you some clean looking images. If you prefer to edit on the computer, software like Pixlr, Gimp and Affinity are all great. These allow you to retouch, edit and manipulate photos but are naturally a lot more powerful than programs dedicated to editing on phones.
For video editing, while you can do it on your phone, it’s much more advisable to do it on a computer if you can: bigger screen, more powerful and a mouse is more precise than my fat fingers at least! Apps like Splice, “Video Editor” and iMovie are all great and free but get on the computer if you have the access and make your editing life a breeze!
We’re gonna tell you about industry standard software for video editing that’s not gonna cost you a single penny. It’s DaVinchi Resolve and it has been used on Hollywood budget projects and allows you to edit, to VFX work audio editing, and colour grading. This gives you huge power to get your edits looking crispy and exactly how you want them. Great room for experimenting and getting the hang off the tricky business of putting all your clips together. Another great recommendation is Hitfilm Express again allowing you to get the most out of your footage. These programmes do take some getting used to; layouts and how to edit etc but once you sus that you’re off to the races! Don’t forget YouTube is an invaluable resource.
Mid Budget Range
If you’re thinking about throwing a few hard earned dollars into some kit for your next day at the dome or dryslope party the best bang for your buck in the mid-price range is going to be an action camera. They have great form factor, the tech has improved leaps and bounds over the last few years meaning the video and image quality is insane for the size and the price, the shooting modes are better than ever, the in built stability is pretty rad and they won’t break the second they take a 6” fall like your iPhone.
Of course action cameras are synonymous with GoPro these days. The GoPro Hero 9 will set you back £329 if bought new but the older models are still rad and can be picked up for £159 (Hero 6). In my experience eBay is a great place to snag deals on old gear all round - this should be noted for any of the hardware mentioned in this piece - and can save you a decent chunk if you do some digging and are prepared to wait around for deals, just be wary of how buying used will affect a products warranty.
Another great action camera option if you’re not that into GoPro is an Insta360 Camera. The Insta One R is a great alternative as it’s an action camera but is also modular meaning you can swap lenses so you can use a 360 camera or a 1” sensor for better performance in low light.
It’s worth remembering that action cameras have lots of options for mounts and have huge versatility. The more recent GoPros have excellent in-built stabilisation so will likely provide some silky smooth footy just on a pole mount or even strapped to your brain bucket. However, a good gimbal for action cameras can be picked up reasonably cheap (£99) and we can throw in a recommendation for the FeiyuTech G6 (this is the one the bossman Nate uses whenever he’s filming…. whatever).
Moving onto software, Max swears by the Adobe Creative Cloud apps such as Lightroom and Photoshop for photography editing and Premiere Pro and After Effects for video editing. The best thing about using adobe software is their ecosystem is amazing which means integrating assets form one application to another is super easy to do. Adobe usually uses a pay per month system for different types of apps. Best deal you can get is the students and teachers monthly subscription which is £16.24 a month and you get all the apps from Adobe. Don't worry you can just use your normal email and be ready to go. There are other deals Adobe has on their website, might be good to scroll through to see which one is the best option for you.
The High Grade
If you’ve got a bit of cash set aside or are feeling the limitations of your current kit this section is for you. We’re taking a dive into the higher price point of our gear recommendations. This is where we’re going to focus on DSLRs and mirrorless cameras. These obviously take up more space than a phone or a GoPro so may be a little more cumbersome on the hill but they’re seriously powerful and have all the bells and whistles to get you that high quality content. The price of the camera itself, the body, is not the only thing you need to consider here either. Other things you will need are lenses, extra batteries, flashes, memory cards and filters. Bear that in mind when it comes to the price breakdowns.
Changing technology means that cameras work well to capture both video and photos, this was not always the case. Canon has always had a strong selection. The EOS series such as:the Canon 600D (£229), 4000d (£295), 80d (£599), 5d Mkiii (£699) and EOS R (£1599). It’s not surprising that the price correlates to the quality of the camera, such as the sensors, and the more advanced it is generally.
Sony also offer great alternative with their predominantly mirrorless selection. These cameras are smaller than DSLRs and have some other interesting and noticeable differences to DSLRs. A quick breakdown of those cameras and their prices is as follows; A6000 (£499), A6400 (£899), A7ii (£899) and A7Riii (£1709).
Generally Sony cameras are a little more on the expensive side but are known to be a little more versatile in all lighting scenarios. The above selection are only a few of many other models both brands offer - and going into detail about the differences between them all would be another article all together. We recommend you do a little bit of further research into which of these cameras would fit into your budget, shooting style and how ergonomic you’d like them to be.
It’s worth also noting that for action sports when you might be shooting on the move that gimbals can offer some much needed stabilisation, albeit at a cost. A few worth looking into if you’re that way inclined are; Moza Air, Ronin S and Zhiyun Crane 2. As well as this, the Small Rig system works very well for a modular accessory mounting system.
Knowledge is Power
After you’ve got all the gear, you’re gonna need to fill your brain with knowledge. Knowledge is power and you’re powerless with a camera and no knowledge. So get learnt! Get to know the kit you have, the fundamentals of photography and videography then build your skill set and experience before thinking about upgrading your kit. “A tool is only as good as the hands that wield it” and all that. Knowing the fundamentals in shooting video and photography is what's gonna make your media stand out and look professional.
Getting to know lighting, composition, movement, shutter speed, ISO, aperture, modes, colour theory and many more aspects of shooting is crucial. Not only taking inspiration from other photo and video and trying to emulate what you like about it it’s all worth reverse engineering that process with your own work. Seeing why it’s good, what needs improving and what you would do differently next time. As they say, your first 10,000 photos are your worst so get out there and take photos and see what works and soon enough you’ll have your own style and be critiquing your own work like a pro!
Yet again, writing the fundamentals of photography and videography down would be its own article. YouTube, articles and books are always your friend and you can’t learn too much about shooting. Even do a course on photography or videography if that sounds like it’s up your alley. Some great places to begin your quest for knowledge are listed below:
Youtube channels such as Film Riot (video), Fstopper (photo), Peter Mckinnon (photo), Aputure (video) and Brandon Li (video) give great free education to help learn and improve your skills and techniques. There is also great reading material out there such as “Fundamentals of Photography” by Tom Ang or “The 5 C’s in Cinematography” by Joseph V. Mascelli which will be great jumping off points in terms of understanding the theory. There will always be something to learn which will help your own skill level grow and improve the quality of your work.
I’ve Got The Gear and Some Idea, Now What?
With all the kit and the info you’re really ready to go out there and get after it in all respects! From here our best advice is to go out shooting and network within the industry. Speaking to other filmmakers/photographers on the slope, connecting with people via social media or however else you bloody millennials build contacts these days is going to really fuel your photography fire. Input from seasoned pros, the riders your shooting or even your mum is going to help you see things in your work you might otherwise miss. Also building a network of like-minded people never goes a miss, it could lead to a lifelong friendship or paid work if you’re really nailing it. Being able to get nerdy with people about a passion is always fun and is going to give you that drive to go out and take some god damn photos!
The final golden nugget of advice in this article is to go out and use your kit and your knowledge. Get the shot or miss the shot, it's all learning. We can also almost guarantee that any photographer/videographer you ask will say the same thing, go out and shoot, learn by doing, making mistakes and taking great photos and videos too. So as Max says, going out and shooting will give you the adaptability to think in different circumstances and adapt to situations and to get the most out of your work. I've always found practical learning has been the best way to improve my abilities as a creator to the point it’s now something I do as a career.
So one more time, loudly for the people in the back:
SHRED, SHOOT, EDIT AND REPEAT!
LightX - https://www.lightxapp.com/
Lightroom - https://www.adobe.com/uk/products/photoshop-lightroom.html?mv=search&mv=search&sdid=L7NVTQ8Y&ef_id=Cj0KCQjwvr6EBhDOARIsAPpqUPHkM1Jw_f6bD2XhrMYdr7HwGlJn6woUkkL5KXDVxtbsKBqHZTi0FSkaAjsbEALw_wcB:G:s&s_kwcid=AL!3085!3!441664375335!e!!g!!lightroom!1422699962!59976286070&gclid=Cj0KCQjwvr6EBhDOARIsAPpqUPHkM1Jw_f6bD2XhrMYdr7HwGlJn6woUkkL5KXDVxtbsKBqHZTi0FSkaAjsbEALw_wcB
VSCO - https://vsco.co/
Pixlr - https://pixlr.com/
Gimp - https://www.gimp.org/
Affinity - https://affinity.serif.com/en-gb/photo/
Splice - https://spliceapp.com/
IMovie - https://www.apple.com/uk/imovie/
Hitfilm Express - https://fxhome.com/product/hitfilm-express
Gopro Hero 9 - https://gopro.com/en/gb/shop/cameras/hero9-black/CHDHX-901-master.html?gclid=Cj0KCQjwvr6EBhDOARIsAPpqUPHmfe9k6APRpzs3r6i30AEtduP6xSwtjHIvHuZ_slzJSSx104W6RI0aAsPvEALw_wcB&gclsrc=aw.ds#hero9blackbundle
Adobe Creative Cloud - https://www.adobe.com/uk/creativecloud/plans.html
Canon EOS 600d - https://www.mpb.com/en-uk/used-equipment/used-photo-and-video/used-digital-slr-cameras/used-canon-digital-slr-cameras/canon-eos-600d/sku-1180813/?gclid=Cj0KCQjwvr6EBhDOARIsAPpqUPHvDzY2710syXWXFQghtIrM5x_n5uFiE_1zZR-NlieKzk39cAk1JQAaAvbYEALw_wcB&gclsrc=aw.ds
Canon EOS 4000d - https://www.tecobuy.co.uk/en_UK/canon-eos-4000d-kit-with-18-55-iii-lens-digital-slr-cameras-3.html?utm_source=tradedoubler&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=TradeDoubler_Sale&tduid=04ee8ed9f3ada12e4936543367bbb46d
Canon EOS 5D MKIII - https://www.wexphotovideo.com/canon-eos-5d-mark-iii-digital-slr-camera-body-used-1775315/?mkwid=s5kgiBb6Z_dc&pcrid=310558797808&kword=&match=&plid=&product=1775315&pgrid=64597527827&ptaid=pla-561172865930&gclid=Cj0KCQjwvr6EBhDOARIsAPpqUPH_xtZSEqeK4dlnoHn9UwYP7Mck1QcZk9PneNlO1L60n0rnXeWzk6EaAkT7EALw_wcB
Canon EOS R - https://www.wexphotovideo.com/canon-eos-r-digital-camera-body-only-used-1778074/?mkwid=sAGm3bjvA_dc&pcrid=310558797808&kword=&match=&plid=&product=1778074&pgrid=64597527827&ptaid=pla-561172865730&gclid=Cj0KCQjwvr6EBhDOARIsAPpqUPEH61if1eEygxqu9qhvAOq2Zz95tSoBX_CuNmOWOA8H9esds4awvJoaAn_-EALw_wcB
Sony A6000 - https://www.mpb.com/en-uk/used-equipment/used-photo-and-video/used-mirrorless-cameras/used-sony-mirrorless-cameras/sony-alpha-a6000/sku-1184444/?gclid=Cj0KCQjwvr6EBhDOARIsAPpqUPGuWvrYvWmXf0aZ-BDU9UkphjUD0iJ25-aoPniJY2Oh_wlefrU_eSwaArywEALw_wcB&gclsrc=aw.ds
Sony A7SII - https://www.parkcameras.com/used/cameras/sony/used-sony-a7-ii/?of_tid=MFRWG5B5GM3TMJTGMVSWISLEHUYSM4DSN5SESZB5GE4DOMJR&adGroupId=91942693660&device=c&gclid=Cj0KCQjwvr6EBhDOARIsAPpqUPFrJ2ZGHP_H5AWgXnNcFUVxbsq8YrjTAjJpnXAuQ8Ja1EkCHz0dUd8aAs_6EALw_wcB
Film Riot - https://www.youtube.com/user/filmriot
FStoppers - https://www.youtube.com/user/FStoppers
Peter Mckinnon - https://www.youtube.com/user/petermckinnon24
Fundamentals of Photography - https://www.worldofbooks.com/en-gb/books/tom-ang/fundamentals-of-photography/9781784721350?gclid=Cj0KCQjwvr6EBhDOARIsAPpqUPFWOCsA8LzOmzUrwev_UJujoaWPNJPM3lGU7tJQepGRj676AuPznxMaAtz2EALw_wcB