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Erin taking a selfie with her camera bag
Erin in her natural habitat PHOTO ERIN HOGUE

Everyone thinks action sport photographers live these dreamy lives, and for the most part it is pretty special. But have you ever tried following the best skiers and snowboarders in the world up, down, over and around a mountain with a 40 pound backpack that holds $15-30,000 of gear?

It’s difficult, to say the least. Someone should give those poor photographers a medal.

And now, thanks to the X Games, someone will. And Whistler Photographer Erin Hogue is in the running. Her photo of skier Chris Benchetler is one of 6 incredible action sports images in competition for the World of X Games: Zoom Photography Contest where the winner gets an X Games gold Medal, and $10,000 cash.

Selected from monthly contributions by experts, each of the six images in the finals are amazing. The contest works by popular vote, and anyone with an Internet connection can vote up to once per day until 11:59 PM on January 28, 2017. [You should vote for Erin!– Editor]

We caught up Erin Hogue at home in Whistler to get some insight into how it all came together.

Chris Benshetler, Whistler BC, By Erin Hogue
Vote and this photo of Chris Benchetler sending it could win X Games gold PHOTO ERIN HOGUE

Whistler Insider: Hi Erin. First off, tell us about this photo of Chris?

Erin Hogue: I shot this last winter on one of the only perfect pow days. This winter it seems like we’ve already had so many more big pow days but this was one of last season’s best– dry, deep snow, bluebird conditions and good stability. I was working with another crew when I noticed Chris setting up this feature in the same zone. Since, Chris didn’t have a photographer with him, his crew asked if I had a few minutes to shoot it. Finding an angle was tricky because Chris was filming a GoPro, skate-style edit, so his filmer was right next to him the whole time. It took a couple tries, but in the end it all worked out.

Insider: You’ve been living and shooting in the Whistler area for the past six years, but you’re mostly known for snowboard shots? Does it feel weird to have one of your ski shots recognized in such a big contest?

Erin: Yes and no. I have always shot with Chris and I actually shoot more skiing than people think. The first season it took me a few times to figure out how to shoot skiing and what is good style for skiers. With snowboarding I can tell what frame has the best style but with skiing, it was new to me. Chris helped me learn pretty quick.

Insider: This contest is judged by the world at large, the people on the Internet, rather than a panel of experts like Deep Winter or the Olympus Pro Photographer Showdown. How does that make you feel?

Erin: It’s a bit more work because you have to get people to go look at the photo and vote whereas a with a panel you just sit there nervously and let them decide. But I think it’s cool because this way we can see what appeals to the everyday general public rather than what the experts or industry people think.

Insider: What do you like the most about working and playing in the mountains around Whistler?

Erin: I grew up in Toronto, so this was a whole new world for me. I’m just inspired by a challenge, by an adventure. The mountains are so huge here that it’s easy to get out to some remote place and just feel totally alone. But then you meet all these incredible people out there too. I’d say the mountains, and the people who explore them, are my primary muse.

Erin at the lake with her camera
Hanging out at one of Whistler’s lakes, Erin is comfortable anywhere with a camera in her hand.

Insider: Any advice for photographers out there?

Erin: Just go out and have fun and do it. You will figure it out as you go and even just being outside is amazing so even if not one photo turns out the way you expected, chances are you still had a great day out.

Wise advice.

Keep an eye out on the World Ski & Snowboard Festival this spring for more events showcasing local photographers and filmmakers. For more information on arts and culture in Whistler, check out


Feet Banks moved to Whistler at age 12 so his parents could live the dream and ski as much as possible. He ended up living it too. After leaving home Feet did a few good stints in warmer climates and 4 years of writing school before returning to the mountains to make ski movies, hammer out a journalism career and avoid the 9-5 lifestyle as long as possible. He’s been a hay farmer, a hole digger, a magazine editor and has a jump named after him on Blackcomb Mountain, Feet’s Air. It’s tiny.