All photos by Scott Markewitz, used with permission.
Scott Markewitz has been a photographer with a vision for many years. He has travelled to many places shooting outdoor sports and skiing for a while. In fact, Scott has over 400 magazine covers to his name–which is quite an astonishing feat. So when we asked him what made for a great ski photo, he gave us a simple answer that was brief and to the point since he’s been thinking about it for so many years.
We managed to find some time in Scott’s busy schedule to talk to him about the industry.
Phoblographer: If you went back in time and told the right out of college you that you’d be a photographer with 400 magazine covers to his name, what would the younger you have thought and why?
Scott: I would have said, “Awesome! I can’t wait! That’s my dream.” My mom asked me in high school what I wanted to do in life and I told her I wanted to be a skier and then either a photographer or a musician. If someone told me back then what I would be doing now, they would have been telling me about my dream life.
Phoblographer: What made you want to get into photography and combine your love to outdoor sports with the art form?
Scott: I was a pro skier in my former life and spent a lot of time skiing in front of the lens. With my interest in photography it was a natural step to take.
When I first started shooting, the predominant style of photography in skiing at the time was very staged, very set up, and very fake. As a skier, those shots didn’t appeal to me, and I wanted to create images that were more authentic and that captured the real skiing experience.
Phoblographer: What do you think makes a great ski photo?
Scott: I think a great ski photo captures more than just exciting action and gives the viewer an almost visceral experience of what’s happening in the scene and what it feels like to be in that moment.
Phoblographer: You’ve lived in France, Vancouver and Utah. Which place do you think is the best for skiing and why?
Scott: I’ve never lived in Vancouver (although I’ve spent a lot of time around Whistler) but I have lived in Utah, France, England, California, Colorado, New York and New Jersey at various points in my life. I love the mountains and culture in France and the Alps, but Utah definitely has the best, lightest, deepest and most consistent snow of anywhere I’ve skied in the world with great mountains to play on. And then there’s Alaska.
Phoblographer: How do you feel the industry has changed in the past five years in terms of marketing when it comes to the web?
Scott: Everything we do now is based around the web. The phone in our office used to ring all the time with clients calling for shoots and image requests. Now, almost all of our communication is through email, and I don’t even know why we have a phone anymore. When it comes to marketing, the web is a really powerful tool to reach new clients and build your business, but everyone is inundated with so much stuff today that it can be a real challenge to get your message through to the right people. As a photographer, developing relationships is still the key but, more than ever, you have to make use of the web to market your work through social media channels, email marketing, photographer portals, photo contests, blogs and other digital platforms.
Phoblographer: We know that you shoot with Hasselblad. Tell us about the gear in your bag that helps you get the shots that you do?
Scott: I shoot with a variety of cameras. I use the Hasselblad H4D when I need its amazing image quality for commercial clients or personal concept shots. It’s an incredible camera for any shots using strobes or for images where you really need extra detail. For most of my action work I pack up my f-stop Satori with a Nikon D4, with a D3S as a backup, and an assortment of lenses ranging from a 16mm fisheye up to a 300mm 2.8. When you add in cards, extra batteries and whatever layers, food, water, etc… I need for they day, it’s a 50+ lb load that I call the ‘Angry Midget’. I’ve also been shooting recently with a few different Sony cameras, including the a99, a77, and NEX-7, for both stills and video. Sony is doing some really innovative things in with their cameras and pushing the envelope in many ways. I’ve been really impressed with the image quality and dynamic range of these cameras and the video capabilities of the a99 are as good as any DSLR out there.
“Everything we do now is based around the web. The phone in our office used to ring all the time with clients calling for shoots and image requests. Now, almost all of our communication is through email, and I don’t even know why we have a phone anymore.”
Phoblographer: Many camera companies market the use of lots of autofocus points to help you get a shot. But as you go into the Medium Format category, there is often just one or a couple. How do you often shoot: focusing manually? Depth of field/scale focusing? Focusing and recomposing?
Scott: With my Nikon, I’ve found that autofocus works best when a subject is moving towards you or away from you at a consistent speed, or when you need to shoot people & lifestyle on the fly. Otherwise, I either pre-focus and recompose or pull focus manually. With my Hasselblad, I’ll often use the autofocus to pre-focus on my subject and then turn off the autofocus and recompose for the shot.
Phoblographer: What’s next for your career, Mr Cover Shot?
Scott: I’ve been shooting more commercial work in recent years and less editorial. I don’t get as many cover shots, but I love the challenge and production that goes along with commercial work. I’m also shooting more and more video and really enjoy the attention to detail and storytelling that goes with it. It’s opened up my mind to a whole new way of looking at creating images, which I’m able to carry over to still photography as well.
You can visit Scott at these pages:
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