The picturesque town of Annecy, France, played host to the European edition of the International Freeski Film Festival last weekend. The event brought directors, filmers, athletes and fans together to showcase the ski industry's latest movie projects. This year's festival also recognized photographers for their work, awarding one the title of Best European Photographer. As a working ski photographer based in London, I welcomed this addition to the lineup and I was honored when I found myself on the list of nominees for the award.
On the off-chance that I actually win, I thought about what I might say if forced to give a speech. In a year where I've slept in 55 different locations, I am thankful to dozens of people for helping me along the way. There may not have been five-star hotels but there was a world of generosity throughout the ski community. In all of my travels, I suffered through sleep interrupted by the sound of snoring and alarm clocks at unsavory hours. I woke to overcast conditions, iced-up cars and broken coffee machines.
I spent five weeks in Japan and skied only three runs during that time, experiencing Japanese powder through the window of a van. The travel, living and equipment costs spiraled out of control. There was no guaranteed income at the end of my journey and the sponsorship deals and multi-million dollar contracts surely must have gotten lost in the post. The road was not paved in gold but the experiences along the way are what I live for.
Of course, that's what I might have said if I'd won the award. Instead, Jérémy Bernard won the title for best photographer. And huge congrats to him. Five minutes later, my name was announced for people's choice shot of the season. Not being accustomed to the limelight, all thoughts of a speech went out the window as I mumbled my way through a couple of shellshocked lines.
Plans are in place to add the photography category to the Montreal edition of IF3 for next year, and with the depth of talent throughout the North American photographers, this is surely an exciting prospect.