Brett Schreckengost grew up skiing on a tiny hill in Loring Air Force Base in Caribou, Maine, where his father was stationed. Along with his mother, Schreckengost’s father volunteered there as a ski instructor. As soon as he could stand, Schreckengost joined his parents on skis. He doesn’t recall the exact age when his life on two planks began, nor can he recall exactly when he started taking photos. Snapping pictures and making turns on icy slopes were always present. His earliest memories include both.
It was in high school, experimenting in darkrooms, when Schreckengost became serious about photography. And it was after college that he became serious about shaping his life around the combination of skiing and photography, his chief identifiers and life’s passions.
Schreckengost got his first taste of professional photography by dabbling in photojournalism for small newspapers. This was a validating first step into a career but he desired to get into the ski magazines that had led him to Colorado. After earning his journalism degree, he headed west for the 1991 ski season. Like many aspiring ski bums before him, what he lacked in a bankroll and a plan he made up for with desire and craftiness. He pinballed from ski town to ski town, evaluated jobs and housing options, as well as ski terrain, and grabbed local newspapers from each town before he left for the next. Telluride, Taos, Crested Butte, and Jackson Hole made the final cut. Schreckengost found a studio for $250 a month in Telluride. It was about a dollar per square foot, but it was two blocks from the chairlift. Telluride won.
A life spent doing what you love in the location and terrain you love is a wonderful thing, but it’s still a job and Schreckengost works it as such. “I have always loved to be outside, and photography seemed like a pretty good way to do some adventuring and make a living at the same time,” says Schreckengost. “Over the years, I have learned that combining those two things was not quite as romantic as it seemed when I was younger. I’m really focused on staying healthy and physically fit enough to keep doing this type of work.”
The dramatic peaks surrounding Telluride are still home for Schreckengost. Though he has fully embraced the digital age and adapted his style and technique to include new tech, Schreckengost thinks of himself as an old schooler and leans toward the traditional roots of the craft. “I tune into my surroundings in a different way,” Schreckengost describes. “I think you can learn a lot from just being out there. The hyper-focus on everything makes me somewhat neurotic because I am always looking at the world and thinking about capturing moments day and night. There’s really no punching out and going home with this job. And the FOMS effect, fear of missing the shot, is ever-present.” Schreckengost still attacks his craft as he did when he was new to town and wet behind the ears in that first winter of 1991. Both camera and skis stay at the ready, the creative fire burning just as hot.
This is a shot of the Telluride ski area taken out the window of a helicopter during a two-day mission filming avalanches and mountains in my back yard. We were extra lucky with the weather this day and got some pretty dreamy stuff.
This shot is from our scout day at the Journada Del Muerto bat caves in the southern New Mexican desert this July. We spent two weeks filming the bat emergence and the hawk predation every evening. My primary task was flying and filming the spectacle with a drone. The job was for a new television series for National Geographic called “Hostile Planet” and will be out in the spring of 2019.
The Alta Lakes Observatory is situated in this epic high country basin just below treeline and is only a 30-minute drive from my house. I have participated in a lot of commercial and editorial shoots up there over the years but this one was a favor for my bud Matty who owns it now. Fingers crossed for a three-week job up here next fall as the DP on a horror film, which will be a big step outside the comfort zone.
Pro skier Bobby Brown doing some sort of triple trick thing that I can’t pronounce on the massive 100-foot step down feature near the Alta Lakes Observatory. I have shot this feature a lot over the years but the show that Bobby and Alex Schlopy put on for MSP films was pretty all-time. It was quite an honor to work with Scott Gaffney and the MSP crew on this one.
My buddy Paul Russell ripping the adobes outside of Montrose, Colorado, last summer, a screen grab from a production I did for the local tourism board. I have been driving by this place for 25 years and for some reason I had never shot anything there before.
Pro skier Logan Pehota in the dark timber at Cerro Catedral, Alta Patagonia, Argentina. I shoot a lot of motion these days and this is a screen grab from a trip I went on last month for Oakley down in Bariloche. It was my first time skiing in South America and it was very surreal to go from the Colorado summer to Andes winter in one day.
My good friend Frank Smethurst SUP casting in the Colorado high country, a screen grab from a pilot episode for a fishing and conservation themed series I worked on last summer.
This is a behind the scenes pic from a BBC production called “Mountains” that featured local ski mountaineer and friend Hilaree O’Neill. This day our mission was to climb and ski Mt. Sneffles and conduct an interview on the summit. I had a solid team of friends/sherpas lugging camera gear as we struggled to keep up with Hillaree. The series just premiered in the UK last week and is rumored to be out in the US this fall/winter on PBS.