5 Classic Ski Photography Shot Styles

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As much as both skiing and photography have changed over the last century, at the end of the day it's still the same formula - capturing the best moments on skis. That's always been the difference to film, where the entire sequence of events is captured. A shot printed on the cover of a glossy magazine remains the most desired reward for ski photographers, who spend countless days carrying burdensome packs of equipment in freezing temperatures.

American ski racer Andrea Mead Lawrence making 1940s ski style look good | Photo teenagefilm.comAmerican ski racer Andrea Mead Lawrence making 1940s ski style look good | Photo teenagefilm.com


There's a lot to ski photography. Elements such as composition, exposure balance, and focus all play a part. But coming home from a day in the field, the experienced ski photographer will usually have a similar mix of themes. Here's five different ski photography shot styles to make skiing look good.

ski photography shot stylesDoes this shot make you want to go skiing? | Photo - Chris O'Connell

1. The Slash

This is probably the most common ski shot in the world. The skier is captured at the end phase of the turn when the most powder is being kicked up, which is also the most fun part of the turn. The slash is can be complemented by a mountain landscape in the background or something as simple as an ominous shadow. In any case, this type of shot makes people want to go skiing.

ski photography shot styles

The cliff shot, with glacial ice background for the win | Photo - Chris O'Connell

2. The Cliff Jump

Extreme skiing used be all about how steep you could go, pioneered by brash young alpinists in Chamonix in the '70s and '80s. But when the North Americans started to get a taste of extreme skiing, it soon became just as much about how long you can spend in the air. Whether jumping 20 feet or 100, the cliff jump shot inspires awe, especially if the skier performs some sort of aerial trick.

ski photography shot stylesThese skiers don't look like they're having any fun at all | Photo - Reuben Krabbe

3. The Pow Snorkel

While bluebird days are magnificent, it's often the socked-in stormy days that have the deepest snow. Photos of powder pouring over a skier's head is what has sold ski destinations such as Utah, Japan, and British Columbia. It's as much a staple of ski movies as it is in magazines and always stokes the winter fire in the fall.

ski photography shot stylesFreestyle in the backcountry, Seth Morrison style | Photo - Chris O'Connell

4. The Freestyle Air

Freestyle skiing used to be confined to competitive mogul courses, but the rise of terrain parks soon bred a generation of skiers that could pull outstanding acrobatic feats between a take off and landing. The freestyle air shot soon became a staple of photographers and crews sledding into the backcountry and building massive kicker jumps.

ski photography styles

5. The Candid Pose

Who said ski shots had to involve actually skiing? Lifestyle photography is often what sells fashion, so photographers are usually tasked with bringing home shots that show more of what the skier is wearing rather that what they're skiing.

—Vince Shuley

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