Wednesday, 20 July 2011

An Hour or so With Ashley Barker...


I have known Ashley Barker since high school and recently caught a glimpse of her work during an interview she did with ESPN. Ashley is incredibly modest with a talent many of us could only begin to dream about having. Her sports photography takes the viewer to new levels; suddenly you begin to love snowboarding or want to take it up based on the gorgeous shots she is able to capture. Her free spirit is captured in every shot and her fabulous personality comes through loud and clear. Ashley’s work is one of a kind and we are really proud to feature her on The AGC blog.

Tell us a little bit about yourself?

For starters, I’m a terrible writer. I like doing things, experiencing life, travelling, meeting people, talking, not texting. I love music, mountain life, surf, food, yoga, dancing, singing, jamming and those kinds of things. I have two amazing older brothers and my dad worked for airline companies until I was 7 so we moved around a lot and travelled often. When he quit we stayed in Calgary where I was raised. I went to French immersion until I was 16 and hit the ski hill every weekend since I was 2. I tried every sport available to me for at least a year.
I looked up to my brothers my whole life, they molded me whether it was in skiing, boarding, music or photography; they're my roots, my role models.

Did you study photography or are you simply a natural talent?
I studied. I went to a photo school in Victoria for a year. School was awesome, just expensive.

It appears as though you travel a lot for your shoots, where has your favorite place been so far and if you could move anywhere in the world where would it be and why?
Yes, it's unreal. Favorite place I travelled to shoot snow sports would probably be Argentina. I spent 80 days there one summer working with SASS, a ski and snowboard camp and living with the coaches. They have great snow and terrain with a more 'laid back' vibe. Most of the trips I shoot are a week or two, so you don't really get to soak in the culture but in 80 days I really got to experience Argentinean living.
As for living, I think its Whistler, at least for now.

When did photography really begin for you and how long has it been your profession?
I've been shooting for fun for almost 10 years now and it has been my only job for 3 years.

My favorite work of yours is your sports photography; it is truly out of this world! Is shooting
snowboarders and skateboarders your favorite subject matter or do you prefer other genres like
weddings, portraits and fashion?
I like shooting snowboarding and skiing because it allows me to be in the middle of nowhere, yet feel so at home. All the elements make it a real challenge, which is exciting and always new. People that aren't out there doing it have no idea what kind of work can go into a shoot. So, when you get a banger shot, something you’re really proud of, the harder you had to work to get it, the more rewarding it is. That feeling, that effort, makes it all worth the while. I like shooting portraits and lifestyle too, it's just different. Anything you can make fun and put your real heart into is fun for me.

I would suspect that you’re using digital cameras, have you always used digital and what camera do you use now?
No I started with film before digital SLR cameras were all the rage; they weren’t very good back then. Now I’m on a digital camera 99% of the time. It's fast, efficient and what my clients want right now. Pairing a digital shot with a film shot makes for two different looks, in other words they don't go well together so it doesn't make sense for me to shoot with film much.

What has been your most memorable assignment and why?
Most memorable trip might be Alaska. I would go there anytime, that place is unreal.

If you could shoot anything in the world with another photographer, what would you shoot, with who and why?
Wow, anything? I guess I'd probably take the opportunity to shoot with David Lachapelle, because his work is so new and conceptual. I feel like I'd learn the most from that right now.

I know that you are an avid snowboarder and skateboarder, so when you are on location for a shoot, specifically for snowboarding, skateboarding skiing etc. do you feel like you get in on the action and ride along with your clients or do you try not to get involved?
It depends on the day/client. I try to snowboard everyday I'm shooting. I'm mostly out on a snowmobile these days so I clock mad hours on those things which is pretty fun once you get the hang of it, but photos come first. Other times I'll be on a "shoot" where your riding time is greater than your shooting Last year I went to Baldface with DVS Snow Team Riders (Mikey LeBlanc and Marc Frank Montoya) it was a shop giveaway contest and we shared the cat with the public. Because there were paying clients in the cat we couldn't hold up the crew by stopping to shoot for more than a minute every run, so I rode with my camera in my jacket, and snapped a couple quick ones every run. It's hard to get good shoots like that, but that's how it is sometimes and I can't argue with that.

How did you get your first photo in a magazine, which magazine was it and what did you do to celebrate that occasion?
It was a contest photo of Jeff Pepperdine in SBC Snowboard Canada. The photo credit went to Geoff Andruik, so I was pretty disappointed. My next best published shot was the cover of Snowboarder in 2007, which happened to be their 25th Anniversary Issue, so they hosted a party in commemoration of this success. Everyone else was celebrating the Abdominal Snowjam and Mag party, but I was celebrating for my first US published photo and cover.

What is the most rewarding part of your career and why?
The people I've meet and places I've been because life is lonely by yourself and there is so much world to experience.

For more work by Ashley please check out

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