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Behind the Photo Annual: Mattias Fredriksson


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

Mattias Fredrikson
Åre, Sweden
Age 27

Are you a good skier?
Yes, pretty good. Not as good as the freeskiers I shoot with, but I can ski well enough to keep up with them. I ski about 100 days a year. I’ve been doing it since I was five.

What kind of skiing do you most like to do?
I like Alta skiing — a mix of trees and open powder. I won’t say no to couloirs, though.

Who’s your favorite skier to shoot?
That’s pretty hard. I shoot with so many of the best Swedish freeskiers that it’s hard to make a choice — and I don’t want to. It’s been such a great opportunity for me to be able to work with them. I have them to thank for my photos. Without them I wouldn’t be able to travel the globe and have fun. It wouldn’t be fair to name just one person because they’re my best friends.

What’s your favorite resort to shoot at?
One place that I really like is Disentis, Switzerland. The backdrops are beautiful. Another place is Stuben in the Auberg area. It’s one of the best tree skiing places in the Alps. Of course my home mountain, Åre, is also one of my favorites. It’s great because many of my best friends live here and I’m on the mountain here almost year round. I even bike there in the summer. Alta is the place I would most like to go back to. I like the atmosphere. More ski resorts should be like Alta. The skiing and terrain are great.

How did you get into photography?
I actually started as a writer. I wrote a story on the photographer, Larf Thulin, for a daily newspaper that I worked for when I was 18. I got to take a portrait of him with my simple camera. Hearing about his work and profession made me think that it might be a profession that I would like to get into. I went up to Riksgransen in Sweden in ’94 and started experimenting with photography there. I had the opportunity to shoot with many skiers directly. That was actually the first time I used slide film.

Talk about your photo shown above in SKIING’s 2001 Photo Annual.
It was taken between two trips last winter. I was in the Alps and I came home for a week before going to Alta. This shot was taken during a really cold day in February. It was 20 degrees below zero Celsius. I was actually shooting jibbing that day (as you can see, this guy has twin-tip skis on). He’s on the Swedish mogul team. He had a knee injury and this was taken one month after he started skiing again. We found the cliff, which was actually overhung a little bit, so I could go below it with my camera and shoot it from underneath. This was around 4:30 in the afternoon, so the sun was beginning to set. The cliff itself was five to six meters high. It was perfect snow conditions.

What do you look for in shooting skiing action shots?
I try to capture the action as well as the environment because all these places are so different. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but it’s the goal for me and the skiers I work with.

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’s kind of both. Most of the time, the skiers and I plan out an idea of what we’d like to capture, sometimes based on something we saw somewhere else. We try to plan a little bit, but we’re also open to anything, based on the conditions and what we have to work with. I always try to be open to new ideas.

What is the most memorable experience you’ve had in your photo career?
My first trip to La Grave, France was unbelievable. It was a really cold day in January of 1998. We did a very long run from the top of the glacier all the way down past the village. It’s one of the longest vertical drops — 2,300 vertical meters. It is known to be one of the best off-piste resorrts in the world. Our goal was to ski a long couloir that was 900 vertical meters in length. We were the first skiers that season to do this couloir. We were there doing a photo shoot for a magazine. I don’t remember this being a really good photo shoot — I only took about half a roll of film — but the memory of this couloir and the feeling that we were the fist skiers to go down it that season were unbelievable. We all got the feeling that this was really, really good skiing. This one run took almost the whole day. One shot was actually published in a magazine. The caption says, “The author of the story gives the skier a fright.” That’s because he was repelling down a ridiculous face.

Describe your craziest experience in photography.
That was actually this May. I was up on the mountain back home in Åre, shooting jibbers. I had been up with a couple other skiers doing some turn shots higher up in the mountain earlier that day. We came down when they were finished and one of the skiers tried the quarter pipe. Usually I ski into the quarter pipe, take off my skis and go up to the tabletop. No one told me that that they had put salt down and I couldn’t stop. I got going really fast. I had all my camera equipment, and I was skiing down on my AK Rockets. I had to decide what to do: crash hard on the in-run or just jump into the quarter pipe. I decided to jump in — and I don’t ever jump into the terrain park. I got huge air off this three- to four-meter quarter pipe and crashed. It was pretty exciting. I could have easily hurt myself but the only thing that happened was that my waist belt on my backpack broke. Pretty lucky, huh?

What type of camera do you use?
Nikon F5

What other equipment do you bring with you on a shoot?
I normally carry an 80-200 zoom, 20mm lens, 50mm lens, fish eye, flash — all in my photo backpack. And, of course, avalanche equipment and water. It gets pretty heavy — around 10 kilos or more.

What’s your favorite type of film?
I use mostly Fugi 100F. Shooting in bad weather and bad light, I use AquaSchola 200, which I sometimes push to 400. I’ll also sometimes try to experiment with other kinds of film.

Do you have any advice for photo enthusiasts?
My first advice would be to always bring your camera on the mountain. Use a good backpack that will protect your equipment and won’t make you feel uncomfortable. Shoot your friends — when they ski and when they don’t, even when they crash — shoot everything. Try to get close to your subject so that you can see them. Use a lot of film and try different types of film — color, black and white, slide. Use a camera that you can adjust manually.

What do you see yourself shooting in the future? Is there anything else you’d like to do?
I would like to continue to shoot skiing, mostly freeriding and jibbing, and mountain biking. I see myself doing this for the next four or five years. I would like to shoot other stuff too, like girls laughs. No, like other sports, lifestyle photos, and portraits of people. Shooting photos of rock stars would be fun, too. It’s important in your progress in photography to have goals. I want to do stuff that’s never been done before. I’d like to go to Poland and capture skiing in a part of the world where skiing isn’t very big.