“I was walking along a beach and found a camera washed up from a shipwreck,” remembers photographer Ben Girardi. “I started shooting then and there. Life was never the same. Just kidding, my first endeavor into photography was in a high school photo class.” Although Girardi’s photographic origin story scarcely resembles that of a comic book hero, his stills of superhuman mountain athletes are just as jaw-dropping.

That class during his freshman year of high school set in motion a life behind the lens. Girardi was hooked from the beginning, learning his skills on film just prior to the transition to digital, and finding inspiration and fundamentals from a passionate teacher.

“I couldn’t get enough,” Girardi recalls. “By the time I graduated high school I had taken every photography class my school offered and even retook some just to have time in the darkroom and access to the computer lab.” Prepubescent dreams of becoming a prop snowboarder shifted into documenting pro athletes and all things in the outdoor world.

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Girardi tells the story of the landscape and the athlete’s interaction within it through wit, excitement, and vibrancy. “A well-composed and timed photograph is a story,” Girardi explains. “It communicates a sense of emotion in a viewer. I try in think about what story I am telling with each image.”

Shooting doors off from the helicopter adds a huge adrenaline rush to capturing images. The wind is in your face as your feet dangle hundred of feet above the glaciers. Drones can get a similar perspective but the shooting experience isn’t quite the same. Here, Hana Beaman lays into a toe side slash.

 

Each athlete has his or her own story and history. Shooting portraits capture individual style and give us insight into the subject in a way that can be missed in an action shot. This is Hana Beaman.

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When I’m driving anywhere I am always conscious of what the side of the road is like, especially when driving late in the afternoon when the light is nice. It’s not rare for me to pull over, hop out, and start shooting. This was a case like that while driving back into Haines, Alaska. The mountains there are so extraordinary. It’s amazing I ever make it anywhere at all.

 

Shooting climbing has a similar rush as shooting from the helicopter. You are hanging from a rope, looking through a viewfinder, staring straight down with the same dangling feeling. If you remember to breathe in these situations it really allows you to capture the expression of a climber.

 

Happy accidents are always welcome. This was one of those cases. It was a windy day and we were just messing around on a small jump. Right when Mauri Cambilla dropped in the wind picked up and blew snow, and his shadow appeared in the air. Nothing I could have planned for, but stoked that it happened.

 

The snow might not always be blower pow. But add a steep colouir with massive granite walls on each side and you can get away with spring snow. It’s just a matter of finding a composition to do justice to the line.

 

A frontside 360 is one of my favorite tricks in snowboarding. It ranks up there with a method. When done right, it has some much style. Nils Mindnich is doing this switch with tons of style. It comes as no surprise as his snowboarding is loaded with style.

 

This shot took a bit for everything to go right. I went one day and the light wasn’t quite right, so I went back the next day to get the shot I wanted. When I first pushed the shutter button my camera gave me a sensor error message, meaning the camera was down and out and had to go back to Canon for service. Luckily I had my second body with me and was still able to make this happen.

 

Living in Whistler, I am close to the ocean, but not close enough that I am down there on a regular basis. I try to make use of every time I go and plan my trips in the afternoon so I can check out a spot at sunset. This time I was headed to Vancouver to go to my in-laws for Christmas. You need to have your stuff together when sunset is around 4:30 in the afternoon, but it leaves plenty of time for family after.

 

I was super excited for this night. I never check the aurora forecast and, just by chance, happened to look this day and see that the prediction was high for this night. This was only my second time seeing the aurora, with the first time being a small solar storm, and it was as magnificent as I had hoped it would be, with the lights truly dancing across the sky.

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