Action Sport Photographer Brian Hockenstein and The Importance of Personal Style

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In the world of action sport cin­e­matog­ra­phy, there’s noth­ing more impor­tant than per­son­al style. Every shot takes extreme pre­ci­sion and care to devel­op the intend­ed look. Bri­an Hock­en­stein, long­time video­g­ra­ph­er and edi­tor of 33MAG.com, knows all about this.

1Born in Mon­tre­al and based out of Whistler, Hock­en­stein is a back-to-back recip­i­ent of the Whistler Art Coun­cil’s Peo­ple’s Choice Award for his works Ice­wall and Method with Dark Clouds in 2008 and 2009, respec­tive­ly. His suc­cess in the action sports cin­e­ma world gives him author­i­ty on the top­ic of per­son­al style.

AR: What first got you inter­est­ed in action sports cinematography?
Bri­an Hock­en­stein: Well, I’m super extreme. Obvi­ous­ly. Haha. Snow­board­ing is my life and has been since I was 12. When I real­ized I was­n’t that inter­est­ed in learn­ing all the new tricks and huck­ing my meat on what passed for a jump in the 90s, film­ing my friends came nat­u­ral­ly. A video cam­era giv­en to me by my broth­er was anoth­er big cat­a­lyst to get­ting me behind the lens.

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AR: What about cin­e­matog­ra­phy is most attrac­tive to you?
BH: In the world of snow­board­ing and skate­board­ing, pho­tog­ra­phy and video go hand in hand with the action. With­out one, the oth­er could not exist, or at least on a pub­lic scale. Being behind the lens has always come nat­u­ral­ly to me and nail­ing a per­fect shot, one that con­veys not only the action itself but also the envi­ron­ment and mood, is as sat­is­fy­ing to me as a per­fect pow turn.

AR: From your expe­ri­ence, what are some tips for get­ting con­nect­ed into the extreme sports cin­e­ma scene?
BH: Hon­est­ly, there is none. If it’s your life, it’ll come nat­u­ral­ly, if not, no offense, but you should prob­a­bly go check out what’s going on down at the base­ball dia­mond. That said, be cool, treat peo­ple with respect and nev­er take any­thing for granted.

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AR: What is your gear of choice?
BH: I’m a DSLR guy. They are a pain in the ass for video but I feel the results speak for them­selves. Pho­tog­ra­phy glass makes for killer shots. Now that there are final­ly some real options for prop­er video cam­eras that accept pho­to lens­es though, I will most like­ly be pick­ing up a new cam­era in the next year. But I will con­tin­ue to use Canon glass.

AR: What tech­niques do you employ to give your shots an iden­ti­fi­able “Bri­an Hock­en­stein” look and feel?
BH: I wake up fuck­ing ear­ly and spend my days in the most beau­ti­ful places on earth.

AR: Once estab­lished, is there a con­stant pres­sure to explore more exper­i­men­tal styles?
BH: For me per­son­al­ly, I don’t lis­ten to or frankly care what oth­er peo­ple think I should be doing. I do what I do, how I do it, because that is the vision I have in my head. If you like my work, that’s sweet. If not, that’s just fine as well.

AR: How has extreme sports cin­e­matog­ra­phy evolved in the past decade?
BH: Well, the cam­eras are way more extreme. That’s for sure. Make sure to use a bunch of excla­ma­tion points. The cam­eras are way more extreme!!!

No seri­ous­ly, things have changed more in the past ten years then in the cen­tu­ry before. Up until about 6–7 years ago, all action-sport movies were filmed on 16mm cam­eras. Most­ly Bolex’s. Then came the HVX which changed every­thing and let peo­ple shoot HD at 60 frames per sec­ond, which real­ly was the turn­ing point.

Oh yeah wait, the Red Epic. That’s kin­da the next and last big shift. Any­one who could afford that was the man for the past two years. Now you can get a FS700 and just tell peo­ple it was shot on RED.

AR: What about extreme sports cin­e­matog­ra­phy cap­tures your inter­est both cre­ative­ly and emotionally?
BH: Just bring­ing the feel­ing to the mass­es. If you’ve ever stood on top of a 8000 foot moun­tain as the sun sets behind the peaks way off in the dis­tance, you know what I mean. If not, well, maybe one of my shots or edits can make you feel some part of that.

Hock­en­stein is cur­rent­ly the edi­tor at 33MAG.com

Check out his most recent projects here.