DANO Pendygrasse

odds and ends from an unusual life

tough week

One of the weird things about theft is the unforeseen consequences that go along with it. My truck and snowmobile were stolen from the front of my building this week. This in itself was devastating but pile on top of it the fact that I was on my way to shoot for a job that I really need to finish, and as result, I missed the best day of the week. That's not the end of the world, but it stings and puts me even further behind on an increasingly huge workload.

I lost that whole day. I lost half a day dealing with ICBC and police. I have lost my ability to get to and from my work at a time when I desperately need to be mobile. But worst of all is the fact that I am mad and disheartened and I have no ability to be creative when I am angry.

I tend to portray myself as a pretty happy guy on this blog. For the most part that is true, but I am a reformed cynical punk rocker angry kid mad at the world, and that guy is lurking just below the surface at all times. When he gets out, I tend to not be very fun to be around. He was knocking on the door with a crowbar this week begging me to come out and play.

I took a few days off from blogging because I didn't want to vent here, and I'm glad I did. There have been a couple of really generous people who have offered to help and that has been a little bright spot in a dark week. I have about six weeks left in the season and I feel like I am at square one. I've been trying to be a better person in the last few years and to have this shit come down just days after raising a bunch of money for my favourite cause is one of those things that makes you scratch your head.


Sorry this took a whole day to get up. Better late than never.

Thank you very much to everyone who came out to my opening at the Blake Jorgenson Gallery on Saturday night. It was extremely well attended as was the party after at the Firerock. Special thanks go to Libby, Dave, Paul and Nelson from Monster. Scott Arkwell and Mat the Alien who kept the place rockin' all night long and longer, Holly and Joey at the gallery, Russell Dalby who shot photos at the party (you can see them here) and all the people who donated spinal cord research through Murray Siple and the Rick Hansen Wheels in Motion. We raised around 500 dollars and I'm really stoked on that. I'll let you know the exact amount when I count it later tonight. I especially want to thank my wife T who has to put up with all the chaos in my life.

Highlights of the night for me were seeing unexpected old friends like Don Schwartz and Scott Murray as well as JF Pelchat, Shin Campos (who brought his two week old daughter Cora!), David Aubry, Stu and Abby who managed to show even though we didn't think they could make it, Gerhard Gross, Michelle and Ryan from Whistler/Blackcomb
and lots of photogs like John Scarth from SBC, Phil Tifo, Mark Gribbon, Eric Berger, and Jeff Patterson who narrowly avoided a huge avalanche earlier in the day.

Damon from Coastal Riders was there with a ton of the Party Snake kids and they kept the management worried, Gnarcore was in the place too, with Brockelbank having the most fun of anyone grilling Murray about his old snowboard movies and Rouleau sporting a trainwreck of a haircut.

Good times had by all, lots of telegrams and roses from folks who couldn't make it, and I even managed to get up the mountain to shoot a couple photos and ride all day Sunday. The show runs till April 15th so drop by and take a look.

Nelson, Libby, Paul and Dave. The Monster crew. "New rule: shiny backgrounds" Russell Dalby photo.
I carried this thing around till it was heavy and full of money. Russell Dalby photo.
Jim Barnum showed up sporting an original shirt from the first Westbeach classic at Cypress in 1989! Still neon after all these years.
This was the last shot I took in the Gallery after it opened. Then it got busy and I started shmoozing...

Showtime at last.

Well folks, today is the day. I'm just finishing up the final details for the opening party tonight and getting ready for the good times. Thanks so much to the folks at Monster Energy who are supporting this exhibit and Holly at the Blake Jorgenson Gallery who has been burning the candle on both ends and still made time to hang all the photos with me yesterday. All I can say is, I wish I had more space. I would love to show about three times as many photos as I'm finally able to, but that's the deal.

We're going to try to help my friend Murray Siple raise some money for spinal cord research tonight so please bring at least a twoonie to throw in the jar or go here if you can't make it. I know that we're really close to being able to treat injuries like Mur's and every little bit helps. That way, when you see him walking through the village in a few years you can take a tiny little bit of pride that you helped make that happen. This isn't a question of "if" anymore, just a question of "when" and the sooner it happens the sooner the life of Mur and thousands of others will improve.

Ok, I have to go sign a bunch of prints. Check out some more of the coverage here, here, and even here.


The things I don't know.

I might as well admit right here and now that I don't know squat about photographers. I mean, other photographers. Well, that's not entirely true, I've learned a lot in the last couple years, but for the longest time I didn't know any important photographers beyond Ansel Adams. And that was just fine with me. I lived in a bubble and I liked it. When my shooting started evolving from pure "action sports" into something a little more advanced, I wanted keep the process as untainted as possible. I was really afraid of being overwhelmed by an influence and becoming derivative as a result.

In the last few years I have seen young action sports photographers take unique ideas and recreate them, and pass them off as their own. I think it's totally reprehensible, but the shots are getting published, so I guess I have a higher standard for originality. There is a lack of shame about it to, as if the copyist is entitled to the concept simply because they've seen it with their own eyes. The entitled generation has an entirely different value set and it's interesting to see how they interact with the establishment. I'm sure that at some point I'll see the bigger picture, but right now I just see selfish kids who only know how to take.

One day about a year and half ago, I was showing my friend Tim Zimmerman a bunch of my older non-action sports shots as I scanned them and put them online. He said something like "whoa, Jay Maisel influence eh?" I said: "Who?"

This is exactly what I was trying to avoid, and it didn't work at all. Without ever having seen the man's work I was being compared to him, and I was pissed off. Well in a very short time I completely changed my tune. I stopped being afraid of influences and started to embrace them. Of course, I'm not interested in recreating anyone's photo, but I've gained a lot by looking at peoples' process. In fact that is what led me to finally take a workshop last spring after avoiding them for 15 years. And of course, I learned a ton. Maybe not just from Heisler, but also from some of the other people involved. Just watching other people work changes how we work. We see solutions to problems we've been having. We learn little tricks. Questions that we have are answered and inevitably we have that moment of "Ah Haaaaaa!"

During the Heisler workshop I met Jay in the flesh, his unmistakable marble mouthed commentary sharing the little bits and pieces that make up who he is. It was a brief encounter and he wouldn't be able to pick me out of a lineup, but it completed the transition out of my bubble.

Yesterday Jay shared a little bit more at Scott Kelby's excellent blog and it's worth a few minutes. In the end, I don't want to take Jay Maisel's pictures, I just want to make pictures like Jay Maisel does. The way he works suits my style perfectly. However, I fear that he is last of a breed and we're less likely to see his kind of work much from my generation. (Although I'm sure a few of the entitled kids are walking around his neighbourhood looking for his shots and trying to identically recreate them to call them their own.) I understand that there probably isn't much chance that this body of my work will ever have a showing at the VAG, but that's not the point. I am compelled to shoot like this and have to keep doing it.

Here are a couple links to things about the show this weekend. See you there:

The Pique



More photos from France and Switzerland

Well I have seen just over half the prints for the show this weekend. I'm pretty stunned with the quality. I don't print nearly enough stuff and that is going to change right here and now. Nothing on a computer screen can compare to a 30 inch supergloss print. It's like rediscovering your work.

I had breakfast with my friend Cole yesterday. He's in Vancouver waiting on weather in between jobs. Kid is on a tear right now having just made the PDN "30 photogs to watch" list. So young and so talented. Good people also.

It's been dumping snow all over Whistler and Blackcomb this week at last. I'm taking care of all the stuff that piled up while I was away and then I'll be on my way up to get my share.

Here are some more shots from the trip. I thought I'd point out that pretty much everything I put up here on the blog is shot with my Canon g9. It came up in a conversation the other day so I thought I'd clear that up. Some of the stuff from the archives and the Snowboard Photo Blog of course are from the Nikon SLR's, but most of my walking around stuff is on the g9.

Also, you can follow me on twitter here. If you're into that sort of thing.

fist tree!
light shadow
looks terrible. tastes great.
tram to the top of Le Brevent.

Lessons learned in Chamonix

I've never taken a vacation in the winter before. Winter is shooting season and shooting takes priority over everything else. That is all good and fine, but one day you wake up and that priority just seems, well, a little bit delusional. Or compulsive. Or maybe just misguided.

I just took a family vacation to France. My wife's family, that is. When the idea of going on this trip came up I looked at the dates and without even thinking decided I wouldn't be able to do it. Second week of March? Seriously? What snowboard photographer could take that week off to just, go snowboarding? In the Alps.

Well as it turns out, I could. And it was easy, all I did was say "yes" and then not book anything that week. The world kept turning. I didn't miss out on anything life changing. And I got to ride Cham with my wife and brother-in-law, in super deep powder and sunny skies to boot.

My priorities have changed a lot over the years, and never more than they have in the last 18 months. Photography is a really tricky lifestyle in that it is on one hand really needy, to show off, to put your work out into the world, and on the other hand very time consuming and often not particularly social. There is a reason that when photographers get together, you can't shut them up. It's because they have already used up the "photo talk" patience of their wives, girlfriends, and family and are just dying to talk shop with someone whose eyes don't roll back into their heads when you start talking about the minute details of a hyperfocal distance or photoshop actions. We go through the often solitary act of making photos, we often have nobody left to bore with our excitement for the things we make, and we compulsively consume information about anything that has anything even remotely to do with our job.

It could be worse. We could be proctologists.

So ya, I'm learning to take a deep breath a little more often. to not get lost in the chaos of winter and to keep my level of passion high. As a result I'm less consumed and more into photography than I have been in years. I've stopped being influenced by the machine of the industry I work in and I'm concentrating on fostering the elements of my work that are true to my vision and not commercially corrupt. They're honest. I spent a bit of time taking pictures last week, no time talking about taking pictures, and a lot of time thinking about taking pictures.

Ok, so here are some shots from europe that have nothing to do with any of that.

Things you find in 400 year old houses
Vines near Hilary's house, Geneva.
Blue house number.
No Dachshunds?!?! Get Draplin on the case!
Cham is huge
Uh, lady, I think you've had enough sun.
sausages as far as the eye can see.
Mont Blanc is the highest peak in the Alps. These black birds aren't crows.
The Aiguille de Midi. I'll have some shots from the top in the next couple days. Stay tuned.

I'm in Whistler

Here are two monochrome shots from a few days apart. I love when the world is black and white without me having to change it. I hate cliche "shoe on the wire" shots, but I was walking along with Paul Rak and for whatever reason I couldn't pass the shot by.

shoes and wall. Railtown. February, 2009.

This morning I was waiting for a ride and it was really warm and beautiful outside so I went to the driveway to wait in the sun. I started searching around, knowing that there was a shot out there somewhere, looking for something interesting. I looked out at the mountains, tried a couple frames that were totally unremarkable, and then looked down at my feet. The slush on the ground was melting away (in fact when I got home a couple hours later the driveway was bare) and I looked into the slushy wetness. I looked closer, saw the bubbles and took a few frames.

I love this shot. There are always pictures. Everywhere, all the time.

Slush. Whistler. March 2009