UPDATE Jan 17, Robin O’Neill’s winning show:
On timing. (In which we argue that Deep Winter 2012 was a display of both exquisitely good and bad timing.)
Deep Winter Photo Challenge returned last night, the cultural highlight of the New Year.
It couldn’t have come at a better time, socially. We’ve recovered from the onslaught of Christmas parties, we’ve shaken off the New Year hangover, we’ve officially ditched the resolutions to be better people, to get drunk less.
It could have come at a better time, snowcially. Like now… with flurries forecast all week, 10-20cm expected on Thursday and 40-90cm expected by the middle of next week. It might have been the most un-deep winter week ever. But Robin O’Neill was too tired to even contemplate the hypothetical offer on the table, to go back in time and reschedule for a different weather window, when compere Feet Banks offered to play Wizard.
Feet: “Would you rather we push back the event to next week so you can get all that snow in the forecast?”
Robin: “No. Too. Tired.”
On microphone management. (In which we argue that Feet Banks is the host-with-the-most, and we hope he went home with an Arc’teryx jacket for keepsies.)
My vote for best performance of the night goes to Feet Banks, emcee extraordinaire, for his sartorial class (vest and bow tie, quite the wardrobe upgrade since he debuted as host of the 72 Hour Filmmaker Showdown in his skivvies), his microphone management and commitment to keeping the show moving (“we’re just going to give you a second to all get off the stage and then we’ll roll tape”), his willingness to go woo-woo for a minute so we could send some white light to Sarah Burke and Rory Bushfield, and his quicker-than-a-40-year-old-virgin’s-orgasm wit. (“Did you bring the short guy into the mix so the snow would look deeper?”)
(Give the dude an Arc’teryx jacket. It’s hard to throw love all night to the sponsors, and not get any warm fuzzy affection back. I’ve got an idea, Feet. Ask Robin for a jacket. I think she might have a few extra…)
On being bold. (In which we commend the photographers for having the cajones to enter the Deep Winter challenge and for inspiring and entertaining us.)
The stakes of this contest seem to have gotten so high that more established photographers are demurring the invitation to compete. All the more reason to give a shout-out to the six photographers who took up the challenge: Reuben Krabbe, Steve Lloyd, Mark Gribbon, Mason Mashon, Jussi Grznar and Robin O’Neill.
As Vince Shuley tweeted: “way to make hard snow look good.”
Their shows did not disappoint, although the line-up of fresh faces did come with a less intense, angsty vibe than last year‘s Deep Winter Photo Challenge, when Robin O’Neill stepped up for mountain women everywhere, competing alongside Blake Jorgenson, Ilja Herb, John Scarth, Tim Zimmerman and Andrew Strain.
Child prodigy, Reuben Krabbe, who has his sights set on breaking Jordan Manley’s “youngest photographer ever to win the Pro Photographer Showdown”, made an impressive debut, (ultimately coming in 3rd AND taking Best Photo) with an action-packed show jammed with “banger shots” captured with the help of Dan and Dave Treadway.
Utah native Steve Lloyd brought the fresh eyes of an outsider to the game – reminding us not to overlook the everyday beauty of the Canadian flags lined up at the top of Whistler gondy. Mark Gribbon brought the snowboarders into play. Mason Mashon (who proves his version of “lifestyle” means not taking your ADHD meds: “okay, we rode bikes to the hill, we’ve been skiing all day, who wants to go skate on the frozen pond?”) landed a shot of rime-encrusted bikes in the back of a pick-up truck that might be the Best Most Unlikely Cover for Bike Magazine.
Jussi Grznar put together an emotive show that started in bed and came full-circle for a 2nd place finish… And what says “and they all lived happily ever after” more powerfully than a guy and girl spooning in bed, with the dog booted to its rightful place on the floor.
But Robin O’Neill’s storytelling about Lifers was the most powerful. With stark portraiture, a few recurring motifs (back-to-back shots that pulled from shallow focus to long focus to tell instantaneous stories about movement and perspective, and triptychs that would fall away to reveal one full frame), and a confident delivery, O’Neill ((#robinneedstwitter) follows her Deep Summer win, deserving her title as All-Season Queen of the Lens.
On the Zeitgeist. (In which we try and read the tea-leaves.)
This year, there seemed to be more love in the air. (Is this a Zeitgeist thing?) There was more ice-skating than Deep Winter has ever seen. We also saw a preoccupation with injury, with the physical and emotional toll that a dedication to the mountains can exact. We saw bigger vistas, that only a stormless Deep Winter week can offer. We saw athletes working incredibly hard and bagging some stellar action shots. And we saw that what makes a photographer a cut above is more than technical proficiency and an eye for a well-composed shot, but the ability to create a mood, even without the moodiness of a storm.
On hard work. (In which we note the concentration of talented passionate hard-working people who make this place, as they say over at WIA, awesome.)
So here’s to hard-working mountain-loving people of Deep Winter. To the marketing and PR peeps at Whistler Blackcomb who work their asses off to come up with fresh and creative ways to engage people with the WB community, to bring people here, to represent this place as authentically as possible. To the athletes who, judging from the recurrence of images shot at the physiotherapist, are pushing themselves to the very edge. To the photographers who are brave enough to step up and showcase their work. (In a 72 hour time frame, the deadline bears down on you so hard, you don’t have time to think, to censor yourself, to second guess. Your naked work is up on the big screen.) So kudos to you all. Thanks for a great night.