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Behind the Photo Annual: Bob Allen


Get access to everything we publish when you sign up for Outside+. shoots the, um, photos with SKIING photog Bob Allen.

Bob Allen
Bozeman, MT

Are you a good skier?
I’ve been skiing for 35 years and can get down most terrain with varying degrees of style.

What’s your favorite kind of ski day?
Powder days when the sky is just puking — both for the atmospheric freshies and the reduced stress of not imposing photography on a perfectly fine overcast day.

Who’s your favorite skier to shoot?
Joe Smith. I have an interest in paleontology so I’m always psyched to shoot fossils that rip. Seriously though, he’s always thinking on the job site, which helps to get the great photos in the can.

What’s your favorite resort to shoot at?
Whistler/Blackcomb, for its size and access to amazing terrain.

How did you get into photography?
I joined the Navy out of high school and was initially stationed in London for two years. I picked up a camera and began to explore my new surroundings through a lens. The resulting photographs gave me the means to examine, understand, and assimilate all that I was seeing and experiencing around me. I basically shot a lot of film and learned from my mistakes. It wasn’t until years later that I combined my passion for skiing with my interest in photography.

Talk about your photo shown above in SKIING’s 2001 Photo Annual.
It was taken at the end of a good powder day at Big Sky after most of the mountain had been tracked up. I found a little stash in this dead stand of white bark pine right at tree line on Lone Peak. I like the image for its simplicity and starkness and the trees for their tenacity to have once grown in such an inhospitable place.

What do you look for in shooting skiing action shots?
To capture the momentum and action of the skier at the instant when they pass through the visualized composition. Precise communication with the model is key to creating a deliberate image rather than just making a random document.

Do you shoot photos with the intent of capturing something in particular or do you go through your slides afterwards and try to fit what you’ve done into the parameter of a magazine?
It depends of the nature of the assignment. I usually go into it with some preconceived ideas that I’m trying to illustrate, but I’m always open to the unexpected. Being able to react spontaneously to a situation often produces the most memorable images.

What is your most memorable experience in your photography career?
Shooting the disabled Olympics at Big Sky this past season. These athletes are the most “extreme” skiers I’ve had the pleasure to shoot. Truly inspirational.

What was your craziest photography experience?
I was hung by my camera strap when a buckle on my photo pack got caught on a chair lift.

What type of camera do you use?
Nikons: F-5 and F-100

What other equipment do you bring with you?
An orange kazoo and a wooden spatula.

What’s your favorite type of film?
Fuji Velvia

Any advice for photo enthusiasts?
Use a lens hood, carry a big chamois, and watch your pack straps when you’re getting off the chairlift.

What do you see yourself shooting in the future? Is there anything else you’d like to do?
A coffee table book of zucchinis in action.