2015-2016 was Sam Watson's first season on the Alta photographer team. Long story, short, he crushed it.
1. NYE Torchlight Pow | Skier: Willie Nelson
New Year’s Eve is a great night at Alta Ski Area. The usual festivities are enhanced by Alta’s famous torchlight parade. What better way to celebrate the New Year than by skiing underneath the glow of fireworks and torchlight, right? I had seen many long exposure style photos of the torchlight parade. But I wanted to try a shot I hadn’t seen yet and get a skier in the foreground. Mr. Willie Nelson, after hearing my idea, was immediately down to try and get the shot that I had in mind (despite not having climbing skins that day and having to boot through waist-deep snow). After we found an untracked patch of snow across the road from Alta, Willie laid down a smooth turn while my flashes lit him up. Willie nailed the shot on the first try so all we had to do was sit back, enjoy a few beers and watch the fireworks. I like this shot because it has a surreal feel to it. Also, it was one of the rare times that a photo turned out the way that I had pictured it in my mind.
2. Shoulder Sparkles | Skier: Ryan Vitale
This photo was taken a few days before Christmas, on Baldy Shoulder at Alta. The Shoulder, as it’s collectively known, gets great light, great snow and offers easy access from the top of Wildcat. This combination of factors makes it a terrific place to shoot powder photos. This shot is of Ryan Vitale, who took a tomahawk style crash immediately after I snapped this frame. Luckily this frame was a keeper and turned out to be one of my favorite shots of the year.
3. Friends on a Pow Day | Skiers: Friends
No friends on a pow day, right?! Well, not always. Contrary to popular belief, ripping endless amounts of new snow is only enhanced by the presence of a posse of buddies. This photo features a few of my favorite people all shredding some of Alta’s finest pow together. The party wave vibe was strong that day, and I think that this photo captures it pretty well. Check out Willie and Hayden in the middle. I mean, how often does your buddy help you out to get a blower faceshot? (L to R Faith Colonna, Willie Nelson, Hayden Price, Noah Wetzel).
4. Powder Panic | Skier: Rachael Burks
This photo was from an early season storm, in mid-December. It was my first time shooting deep powder this year, and powder panic was in full effect in Little Cottonwood. Two feet of fresh had fallen overnight, the road up the canyon was closed starting at six a.m. and frothing skiers were lined up in their cars. I was mildly panicking, thinking that I wasn’t going to make my 8:15 a.m. meeting time with Rachael Burks to shoot some deep powder photos. After an hour and a half of nervously waiting, the road opened . . . and then promptly closed again. Dang! I was really hoping I hadn’t blown it by not making it up before the road closed. Another tense hour later and the road finally opened. Rachael and I met up and had an all-time morning blasting through some insanely light snow. The moral? Take a few breaths, chill and it will all work out. There’s plenty of snow for us all in LCC.
5. Grumpy Luke Throws Down | Skier: Luke Perin
Although old and ill tempered, Luke Perin can still throw down some mean tricks with some serious style. This particular morning, our crew (Luke and Cody Perin, Crazy Karl, Hennie VJ, and myself) had the Tree Air jump all to ourselves. After giving the lip a small pat down, Hennie set up his angle for video and I set up for some stills. Hit after hit Luke showed us all that he still has a few years left in him with some flawless trickery. Dare I say best switch 540 in the Canyon?