Self Portrait. All photos courtesy Blake Jorgenson.
“The camera has become an essential part of your toolkit now,” says Whistler photographer Blake Jorgenson. “It’s just as important as your skis or bike. Being able to capture and share an amazing experience so easily, it enhances the joy of the experience and inspires others to get out and do more.”
When it comes to doing more, Blake is a local hero. He moved to Whistler at age 18 and had his first ski photo published in Powder Magazine just three years later. Since then he’s twice won the prestigious Pro Photographer Showdown at the World Ski & Snowboard Festival, scored Powder’s “Photo of the Year” award, co-shot an official 2010 Winter Olympic & Paralympic Games coffee table book and over the past 15 years has worked with the best skiers, bikers, publications and companies in the outdoor recreation world.
Blake doesn’t mind the fact that everyone has a camera on them at all times, either. “It’s a wide open opportunity now,” he says. “Slide film used to cost 15 bucks to take 36 shots, plus processing. Now you can take 300 shots in five minutes, review them, learn from them, and share the best ones. Everyone is a decent photographer now compared to five or ten years ago. But at the same time, the people who take really good photos are getting better just as quickly.”
And in Whistler, there are a lot of those people taking really good photographs. Blake was recently asked to pore over more than 800 photos from Whistler pros in order to curate the 12-shot “Behind the Lens” campaign for Tourism Whistler.
“It’s progressive,” Blake explains. “The way people communicate with each other is changing and this project acknowledges that. My job was to find photos that would interlink together as an exhibit or presentation and still tell the full Whistler story.”
He admits it was a tough job, but an enjoyable one. “The cool thing was none of the photographers got sent out with a marketing department brief or shot-list. All of these photos existed beforehand because the photographers wanted to capture that exact moment of life. These images are truthful and together they take a different approach, one of real connection. They say – come to Whistler because we have awesome people and awesome experiences.”
That theme of connection flows strongly through the annual Whistler Outdoor Photography Summit, a multiday event Blake started 4 years ago that sees some of the top outdoor and action photographers in the world converge on Whistler to share their knowledge and passion for the craft.
“Photography is a communication art,” Blake says. “And these workshops and lectures are designed to teach people the process of how to understand what is going on in your brain and get photographs that mirror what you see in your mind. It’s also about understanding your athletes and audience whether that’s magazine editors or clients or just your Facebook friends.”
The 3-day workshops are broken into “Action Sport” and “General Outdoor” categories and feature guest instructors like Paul Morrison, Jordan Manley, Scott Serfas, Sterling Lorence and Eric Berger (Editor’s note: These are truly the best of the best in the business). The popular Evening Lecture Series feature live and interactive presentations where photographers can showcase and discuss some of the favourite images of their careers.”
“The lectures are designed to be super interactive and accessible to anyone,” Blake says. “Whistler has a lot of incredible photography competitions but the format is usually the same: images and music. These evening presentations give people an opportunity to hear the back story and ask questions and learn about who these photographers really are. It’s a way to transfer information to anyone interested in capturing all these incredible outdoor experiences we are constantly involved with.”
“People will connect with a photograph because it is a reflection of themselves, their life, and who they are. To be able to be out in the mountains and capturing images that will inspire others — it’s a real honour.”
The Whistler Outdoor Photography Summit runs September 26-29, 2013 and there are still a few spots available. The Evening Lecture Series series runs unique lectures twice nightly September 26,27 and 28 at Millennium Place. You can also see more of Blake’s work in his online portfolio or at the Adele Campbell Gallery in Whistler.