Some of the hardest workers at summer shred camps are the people behind the cameras. They get up early and go to sleep pretty late after a day of hiking all the features, setting up shots, and editing photos. To get an idea of what the photographers get into all summer, we caught up with the man behind a lot of the bangers the summer, Erik Hoffman, to hear about how his time at Windells, some of his favorite moments, and to check out a batch of his favorite photos.
First off, what’s your name and position at camp? What makes you come back each summer?
I’m Erik Hoffman I am nineteen and I am a photographer at Windells Camp in the beautiful state of Oregon. There definitely isn’t one particular reason why I come back every year, but the opportunities that are provided by living within a couple of miles of most of the snowboard and ski industry definitely have their perks. I would say its combination of that and living in a community of some of the most unique and fun people I have ever met in my life.
How did you get into photography?
I purchased my first camera when I was sixteen and a junior in high school. I’d say my interest in photography was triggered when a good friend of mine had gotten a Canon DSLR. He had been taking a bunch of skate photos of my friends and I got really stoked on them so I had to get in on the action.
Favorite moment you’ve experienced while shooting a photo?
There are definitely a number of instances that could take the top spot, but I would say last year as an intern, Darcy Bacha brought me on some trips with Sammy Carlson for his movie On Top of the Hood. Experiencing Sammy and his crew blasting above the clouds as the sun was setting on the mountain was unbelievable. As the sun set a light pink color was cast over everything. It was like watching the sun set over the ocean, just replace the ocean with some fluffy clouds.
Hiking out from some of the spots proved to be a task in itself especially when your on a snowboard rather than skis making the traverse quite a bit more challenging and when your carrying strobes and a camera bag that weighs you down with an extra fifty or sixty pounds that will slow you down a bit too. Despite all of that I would go as far as saying those trips were definitely the most memorable days of my life.
What’s in your kit? Do you have a favorite setup or lens you shoot with?
My usual set up would be my Canon 5D with a 50mm f/1.8, 15mm f/2.8, and a 70-200mm f/4 IS. I won’t hesitate to say that my favorite setup would be just the 5D and the 50mm. The 50mm is quite versatile and has fantastic depth of field not to mention it’s tiny, cheap and easy to travel with. I’m definitely planning on purchasing a more expensive model once I’m out of college.
A lot of people might not realize the hard work and effort it takes to get a shot. Was there ever a time where you put in a ton of work to get a certain shot and it turned out awesome?
Yeah I definitely agree most people have no idea. One day this summer I had been shooting the Olympic team in the Windells lane during one of the in-betweens. I had gotten done at around one and randomly met up with Dylan Thompson and Pat Raichur. I ended up tagging along with them. We spent about two or three hours scoping some spots out, building and setting up a strobe, dialing it in and finding an angle I was happy with. Once we started shooting I quickly realized my equipment had less than enough battery from shooting all morning. I wasn’t getting the shots I wanted because of the clouds were constantly rolling in and out putting us in a fog.
My camera batteries ended up dying so I resorted to warming them up under my armpits for a couple extra shots. The last shot before it had completely died all the elements came together and I got the shot. Of course I didn’t know until I put it on my computer because my camera batteries had almost let me down. I was stressing pretty hard on the way home to say the least.
What do you do during the winter?
I have a couple more years of school back home in Connecticut so I am confined to that area for the winter. I am definitely excited to finish up and travel but until then I’m happy with the area, provided we don’t have a lack of snow like last year. While we don’t have the best luck with snow when we do get it there’s a ton of spots that have never been seen of touched before. While I’m not up at Mount Snow I definitely have some awesome spots up my sleeve to shoot on this winter. So for everyone out there if you want the inside scoop hit me up and we’ll get some shots this winter.
Tell us about a couple of your favorite shots from this summer.
Hmm…that’s a tough one, I would say that photo of Dylan I was describing before is number one. Off the top of my head I would say one of my favorites is a photo of Ozzy Henning on one of the Windells park jumps actually. I got up to the Windells lane early that day and took advantage of some low-lying early morning clouds for some added composition. Ozzy was just getting in with his group of campers and casually did a seatbelt backside 360 while rolling through the jump line and that turned out to be one of my favorite shots from the Windells park all summer. It’s funny how some shots work out like that.
Did you ever get to shoot with anyone you were a bit starstruck by?
Yeah in fact this summer I shot some sequences with Hannah Teter for a trick tip book over the course of a couple days. It was really cool to get to know someone who has had so much success in the snowboard industry and someone who had grown up riding the same mountain you had. It was an awesome experience for sure. It was also nice to spend some time shooting in High Cascades lane, it definitely helped me get over that mid summer hump.
Top 3 favorite snowboard photographers?
Frode Sandbech, Jerome Tanon, Cole Barash and I have to add in Darcy Bacha because he has taught me so much over the past couple of years and has to deal with a bunch of my stupid questions all the time. Not to mention shooting along side him majorly influences my photography whether I realize it or not.
Best memory of camp this past season?
Wow, another tough question, there’s always something crazy going on, ranging from kids peeing their pants for free gear to the diggers salting campers’ bags into the ground, but the most memorable I would say was the staff party. Having all the employees skating the park at the same time, photo intern Tyler fruitbooting around with a fedora and a V-neck on, filling the back bowl with water and making the bank wall a water slide, water balloons filled with Gatorade, and my roommates airing over a motorcycle off a pole jam followed by some burnouts and a massive bonfire.
It was also great to see Tim around having a great time with all his employees and I apologize about the water balloon to the back, though it was intentional. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Tim everyone at Windells for another great summer, I can’t wait to see you all again in June.