Interview with Snowboard Photographer Mike Yoshida

Alas­ka native Mike Yoshi­da is one of the coun­try’s top snow­board­ing pho­tog­ra­phers. His pho­tos have appeared in numer­ous pub­li­ca­tions, includ­ing Snow­board­er Mag­a­zine, Transworld Snow­board­ingThe Snow­board­ers Jour­nalOnboard Snow­board­ing, and Gold­en Ride. His work has graced 12 mag­a­zine cov­ers, and he was named as a final­ist in both the Red Bull Illume Project and the Olym­pus Pro Pho­tog­ra­ph­er Showdown.

Have you ever dreamed of becom­ing a pro­fes­sion­al snow­board­ing pho­tog­ra­ph­er? Here are some tips from one of the indus­try’s sea­soned pros.

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The Clymb: When did you first get involved with snow­board­ing photography?
Mike Yoshi­da: About 10 years ago. I have been shoot­ing active­ly for about 15 years now, but 10 years ago is when I first start­ed to put two of my favorite pas­sions together.

TC: Are you for­mal­ly trained or self-taught (or both)?
MY: I am 100-per­cent self-taught. I have had a lot of friends help me out along the way, giv­ing me tips, and I read a lot of books, stud­ied oth­er peo­ple’s work to try to fig­ure out how to take my photos.

TC: Where are your favorite places to shoot?
MY: Japan, Mt. Bak­er, Whistler, Alas­ka, Europe… the list goes on and on. I have been for­tu­nate enough to trav­el to so many amaz­ing places, and it blows my mind where my cam­era has tak­en me. Japan is prob­a­bly one of my favorites though.

TC: What are some of the best cam­era mod­els on the mar­ket for snow­board­ing photography?
MY: The Canon 1DX is look­ing pret­ty sweet for action. It does well in low light, and has an insane sen­sor. On the Nikon side, I think they have some­thing called the D4 that is sup­posed to be next lev­el. Nikon does real­ly well with high ISO, and also has real­ly good auto focus.

TC: What is a good ‘starter cam­era’ to help aspir­ing pho­tog­ra­phers get their feet wet with­out break­ing their bank account?
MY: Pret­ty much any man­u­al cam­era that lets you choose ISO, F Stop, and shut­ter speed. I would sug­gest start­ing with film, because it can teach you alot about com­po­si­tion and tak­ing time to real­ly take a great photograph.

TC: Do you pre­fer to use film or dig­i­tal cam­eras, or both? If both, when is each one optimal?
MY: I like both, but pri­mar­i­ly am shoot­ing dig­i­tal these days. I don’t have the extra time and patience to buy and shoot film, have it devel­oped, get a good scan and then final­ly have the fin­ished prod­uct. I have too many oth­er things going on in my life to ded­i­cate more time to that. And with dig­i­tal it is so easy to send files that day, and clients love that.

TC: Do you use mul­ti­ple cam­eras for vari­able con­di­tions (time of day, pre­cip­i­ta­tion, etc)? Or does one sat­is­fy all your needs?
MY:  I use a Canon Mark 3 right now for sequences and sync­ing flash­es at high­er speeds, and I use a Canon 5d Mark 2 for por­traits, low light sin­gle shots, and stu­dio work.

TC: What sorts of pre­cau­tions do you take to pro­tect your cam­era from harsh weath­er or oth­er nat­ur­al elements?
MY:  I tend to abuse my gear out there, but it’s always nice to have an umbrel­la or a place to seek shel­ter in between shots. Also, it’s nice to have a mini rock­et-blow­er to dust off snow from the cam­era and or lens.

TC: What are some tips for get­ting pho­tos published?
MY: Only sub­mit your best work. Be per­sis­tent, con­sis­tent, and hum­ble. Be nice to every­one you meet in the indus­try, and espe­cial­ly befriend the pho­to edi­tors. Show peo­ple that you have per­son­al­i­ty, and are easy to talk to. Because there are so many pho­tog­ra­phers out there, peo­ple remem­ber personalities.
TC: How has out­door pho­tog­ra­phy evolved in the last 10 years?
MY: Dig­i­tal pho­tog­ra­phy has changed the game for all venues of pho­tog­ra­phy. The con­ve­nience, learn­ing curve, every­thing about it has changed pho­tog­ra­phy. I don’t know if it’s nec­es­sar­i­ly a good thing, but that’s the way it has become these days.

TC: What’s your dream assignment?
MY: Some­where trop­i­cal, shoot­ing swim­suit models.

Mike Yoshida

Mike is cur­rent­ly a staff pho­tog­ra­ph­er for Snow­board­er Mag­a­zine. Check out his offi­cial web­site for pho­tos tak­en on and off the slopes.