By Leslie Hittmeier
Photographer Reuben Krabbe had a vision to create arguably the most unique ski photo of all time—to capture a skier in front of a total solar eclipse. To make it happen, he first had to convince a group of skiers to go to the end of the Earth with him, or rather the top. Krabbe estimated his chances of pulling this off would be slim, but Brody Leven, Cody Townsend, and Chris Rubens joined the adventure anyway, and then Anthony Bonello from Switchback Entertainment signed on to produce a Salomon Freeski TV episode. The extremely talented crew set off for the Arctic last March. Spoiler Alert: Krabbe got his shot. And in the process, the team created the 31-minute film called Eclipse that just dropped this morning and also won Best Snow Film at the Banff Mountain Film Fest this past weekend.
I caught up with Krabbe to hear about this epic accomplishment. But first, watch the video.
Where did this idea come from?
Three years ago I noted that this was going to happen, and it has been a note on my computer ever since. I pitched the idea to Mike Douglas at Switchback Films but didn’t expect him to jump on it. This was the kind of thing that took a lot of time and money, and we would either completely fail or succeed.
Tell me about the build-up and trip planning—there had to be a ton of pressure on you.
When we got to camp there was not a stress-free moment for me. I was constantly playing it through my head and thinking about everything that could go wrong. Like, what will happen if it’s cloudy? What if I mess up? What if we don’t find the right spot? I mean, I didn’t find a spot I wanted to shoot until 15 minutes before the totality [the max phase of a total solar eclipse].
Describe setting up for the photo.
There was never any real indication that this was going to work out. There aren’t any photos from the first 45 minutes because we were still on the snowmobiles trying to find the best location to shoot. We didn’t know if the spot we picked out was going to work. There were also some clouds hanging out that I was sure were going to ruin it. But we got set up, the athletes got to the ridgeline where there was soft snow, and I figured out the alignment. I was a kilometer and a half away from them. I started shooting and every two minutes; both Anthony and I had to move our set-ups and reset our alignment. Once I got going, there was no chance to feel stressed anymore. I didn’t feel anything.
What happened when you realized you got the shot?
At totality, I could see that we had the alignment and that was an amazing feeling. There was this really surreal moment as all these perfect frames started to come up on my screen. So rarely does a vision come to life in such a real way. I watched my dream come true.
Is this the best photo you’ve ever taken?
This is the most premeditated photo I’ve ever taken and so it feels like a real accomplishment. This photo was not just a happy accident, and pulling it off is the most difficult thing I’ve ever done.