All images by Daniel Ronnback and used with permission
The term, “Living the Dream” is something that not many of us get to really do. But Daniel Ronnback is a photographer who has surely earned his stripes for the statement. Dan has been shooting for a while and is well versed with world of extreme sports. He’s got all sorts of techniques and some crazy stories to tell as well.
We were able to talk to him about surviving an avalanche, and getting the right shot.
Phoblographer: When did you first get into photography and how did you know that it was what you wanted to pursue for the rest of your life?
Dan: I was working as a ski instructor, and some friends asked me to follow them and shoot some powder pictures in Sälen, Sweden. It was one of the best days of the year, and the first photo I took that day ended up as a cover on Sälen Magasinet. So from that day I just realized that photography could take me and my skis around the world and ski powder and enjoy life with friends.
Phoblographer: Besides biking (featured in the video) it also seems like you shoot a lot of extreme winter sports and men’s lifestyle stuff. How did you make the transition from one to the other? How did that work in terms of networking?
Dan: Skiing, Biking and Action sports have always been a part of my life, so I just took my camera with me when I enjoyed my passion. I started skiing when I was 2 years old, and riding Dirtbike and downhill when I was 14. So action sports have always been in my life. And skiing showed me snowboarding, which I love to ride and shoot as well as mountaineering, surfing, and all outdoor sports. I like to try new things and I like to capture the things I love. So it was an easy transition.
Phoblographer: You’ve obviously seen lots of different locations. But if you had to narrow down three, which ones would you say inspire you the most and why?
Dan: Chamonix, the big mountain, the people that live there and the fact that when you go out there you are alone. New Zealand, it reminds me of Scandinavia. The Fjords in the south. Big Mountains and beautiful nature, but still hot summers in the North and skiing, surfing and biking in one place.
Phoblographer: Tell us about what’s in your gear bag. Your Facebook cover image shows a film camera.
Dan: I have a couple of bags, I use an F-stop Satore EXP for mountaineering, and a Tilopa for skiing and biking. When I shoot mountaineering i try to be as light as possible so I’ll take my Nikon D700 and tree lenses, 14-24mm, 24-70mm and 70-200mm.
For skiing and biking in use my Nikon D3s and a 45mm Tilt/shift line.
I also love to shoot analog, more for personal usage. I also have a Leica M6 and a Hasselblad 500cm. I got a couple of old ones as well. But I realized that I more and more like to work with my Leica so I leave my other old cameras at home. I normally don’t like to use flash. I like natural light, but when I use it I have a Ranger RX and two Quadras to create fake light.
Phoblographer: Since you shoot extreme stuff, we’re sure that you have some good stories. Tell us about the mos dangerous moment you’ve encountered while shooting.
Dan: I don’t like to put myself in dangerous situations. I try to respect myself and nature. But sometimes nature, weather and the situation overcome your fear to walk away. And suddenly you’re in a situation you need to survive. It was a gray day in Chamonix. The weather looked stable so we went out to try to capture some “bad skier pictures” on a normal day skiing. We went for Couloir west on Augile du Midi. We had some nice powder turns down on Glacier Rond, and hiked up to the entrance of west couloir. We started to repel down and after our first repel, the weather changed. Hard winds and snowfall created avalanches in the middle of the Colouir and some time the visibility was so hard that I could see my own hands. So our mission of taking great photos came second to skiing down safely. Sometimes you need to change your mission.
Phoblographer: When it comes to photographing biking and setting up a shot, do you prefer to autofocus or manually focus and use the zone focusing system?
Dan: I use the autofocus on my camera to fix my focus, then I turn it to manual and take the picture. Its the best way to know that you always get the shot. In most of the times I know where and in which time the rider will be in the perfect position and when I don’t know I tell the rider where to try to be in the position. So this is the best way to get a shot in focus.
Phoblographer: If someone wants to get into this type of photography, what are some tips that you can give on how to break into the industry?
Dan: I think it’s really important in all industries, not just action sports, to get to know the scene. Learn about the riders, about the action. When the perfect moment actually happens, that is a unique moment. If you don’t know, read books, ask the riders or google the answers. Look at other photographers. Don’t copy them, just let them inspire you. The more you know the better result you will get.
Please Support The Phoblographer
We love to bring you guys the latest and greatest news and gear related stuff. However, we can’t keep doing that unless we have your continued support. If you would like to purchase any of the items mentioned, please do so by clicking our links first and then purchasing the items as we then get a small portion of the sale to help run the website.