Doubtful Certainty on Rainbow: Spring Arrives in Steamboat

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, CO- One of the reasons why I really love writing about my own experiences, and reading about others for that matter, is because it’s an attempt to convey the nuance of an experience which you’ll otherwise never hear about.  Cue the scene:


Today, I’m shooting action in the middle of Rainbow, a mid-grade blue run on the front face of Werner Mountain, looking like an idiot. Many of you will shake your heads and ask yourself, what else is new? It’s late March, and it feels like the first day of spring. The sun actually brings some degree of warmth to my body, requiring the use of both sunglasses and hat to keep the glare out of my eyes. The snow provides an ideal reflective surface for the sun, burning my skin and my retinas in an hour if I’m not careful. Yet there’s still enough of a chill in the air to require a light pair of gloves—oftentimes it’s necessary to touch the snow, which is obviously still cold. Holding a camera for hours on end can make your fingers just numb enough to reduce circulation and feel the chill.

View of Sleeping Giant from Steamboat Ski Area

View of Sleeping Giant from Steamboat Ski Area


I’ve shot action photography in many, many types of weather this season, but it’s infinitely more pleasant to do so on a day like this. A base layer and a vest suffice for warmth, and I can actually hear SBTRKT playing on my speakers over the howl of the wind, something I could end up taking for granted if this weather stays for too long…I have a bandana over my face, contributing to my foolish look, but it’s all functional—the sun is actually so strong that it’s best to just guard against it. It’s easy to forget that UV Rays are significantly stronger at 10,000 feet than they are at sea level.


Colorado weather is finicky, has been finicky, and there have been quite a few days where you’ll see signs of spring. Perhaps it’s a later-than-usual, orange sunset lighting up the sky—or maybe it’s a single bird, other than a magpie, that you hear chirping off in the distance. It could be the fact that you don’t need to wear another layer under your ski jacket. Or it could be a day like this, one where all you need to do is smell the air and you know that spring is near, bringing the promise of something new and something different. This winter was so long and so harsh that I almost don’t know what to do with myself in the warm weather—aside from revel in it. This job is so much more enjoyable when I can roll my sleeves up, take my mittens off, and enjoy being outside.


I have more appreciation than ever for working in an office building, shielded from the elements. A blizzard means that you need to dress yourself for your commute, but once you get to your place of business you can change into warm, comfy clothes and wear slippers under your desk. Here, a blizzard means…standing outside in a blizzard, all day. Working in a blizzard. Being expected to have a blizzard mean absolutely nothing in terms of the quality of work that you produce. As a professional photographer, or a professional anything, there really shouldn’t be any externalities that affect the quality of your work. It toughens you up, because there really shouldn’t be any excuses.


There are many times throughout the past few years when I’ve been doubtful about the choices I’ve made: leaving a stable, well-paying job with a lot of promise, a circle of close friends and family, and a life I quite frankly enjoyed has not always been the easiest thing to cope with, especially when I see so many people that have stayed home start to build a life for themselves. At times I do yearn for that stability, for that foundation…but on days like this, where it’s my job to enjoy a crisp spring afternoon, taking 2,000 perfect photographs, with this view as my office, I don’t doubt the choices I’ve made one single bit. There’s more than enough time for me to build a life from this foundation.