How did you first get into photography?
When I was 13, I picked up my dad’s AE1 and started cruising with it. Haven’t looked back since.
When did it go from a hobby to a career for you?
I think like 16 or maybe 17? I was living in Mammoth with a bunch of other young snowboarders and we would grind pretty hard each day to go out and get shots. I then got offered a contract from Forum Snowboards to be the principle photog for them — which basically meant traveling around the world on the hunt for snow with their team. Those definitely were some of the best times of my life, but a lot of hard, cold, long days making something out of nothing.
What have been some of the biggest challenges so far in being an artist versus only a commercial photographer?
Honestly, both are hard, but I think committing your life to making work and standing behind it is maybe harder. When someone hires you for a commercial job, it’s hard work sometimes, but it’s also so based on communication and just making shit look good (in a lot of different ways). You are focused much more technically and treat it as a professional service with the end goal of checking all the boxes that are clearly laid out for you. With making work (art), not only is it hard to consistently believe in yourself and have to not be scared of putting your work out, it’s also hard to try to go truly in your own direction to say something through tangible objects or visuals. There are no boxes to check, which is the best, but also sometimes the worst — and hardest. But then again, that’s what makes it addicting. The more mistakes I make and fuck ups I have, I realize the most important thing is to just stick to your guns. If you feel it and are solid on it, then it goes.
On the flip side, what have been the greatest successes so far?
I think in a traditional form, having an exhibition at museum of Iceland felt pretty rad. Or a book I recently made, Smokejumpers, is now part of the Museum of Modern Art (NYC) library. Or on a different level, maybe a success of feeling hyped on a collaboration of a project with someone. I made a project called, Talk Story, a series of photographs into a book about the North Shore of Oahu that was anchored around John John Florence. To see someone be involved with that like him — and then have a good time doing it, felt good as well.
What have been some of your favorite projects you’ve worked on?
Maybe this project, Grimsey, which was a book and later an exhibition about an island north of Iceland, 6km long with 95 people inhabiting it. As that was my first serious body of work combined with it being such a bizarre yet beautiful place and community that ended up being pretty interesting. Smokejumpers, involved spending time with wildfire fighters and getting to completely take my own vision into which was amazing to get access to as well.