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Geartrade: “Behind the Photo” with Adventure Photographer Adam Clark

How do great photos come about? Are they carefully plotted, or does the photographer await a moment? Adventure photographer Adam Clark (whose pics are found pretty much all over our site and countless other publications) says that, for him, the perfect photo happens when a few factors combine: a beautiful day, a boatload of stoke, and a bit of time set aside for taking photos.

That’s how he captured the photo above currently on Geartrade’s homepage—a stunning black and white image of a pair of skiers sitting atop a lofty ridgeline amid a misty sky. We sat down with Adam to find out how this beauty of a shot was captured.

It turns out, this photo was a case-in-point result of Adam’s recipe: he and his wife, Annastasia, had gone out for a great big powder-sking day in the backcountry. They were having so much fun logging pow laps that he didn’t worry much about stopping to take photos. But an impeccable moment arose on a ridgeline when the storm broke into a sunny dazzle of glowing snowflakes, and parting mists. He stopped, pulled his drone out of his pack, and snapped a single selfie of himself and Annastasia from the airborne camera. That one shot ended up flawless. Just like the day itself.

“You know that moment when a storm is breaking … It’s been snowing, you’ve been ski touring in the wind and snow, you’re kinda cold, kinda want to go home. But the snow is really good, so you do one more lap. You get to the top, and you see those little backlit snowflakes coming down. You realize the sun is coming out, and you get the ‘sun energy’ … and that last hike of the day becomes sun-powered, instead of snack-powered,” says Adam.

It’s a moment all backcountry skiers know … the time when the last powder lap of the day is not only delicious, but the most beautiful. With the sun breaking through the clouds, you get clearer visibility than you’ve had storm-skiing all day. And, with better visibility, fresh snow, and a touch of sun, you get the prettiest moments.

“So many times in my career as a photographer and a ski bum, that ‘one more lap’ makes for some of the finest photos and best ski memories,” Adam explains.

That was certainly the case for the glorious photo now gracing Geartrade’s homepage. After Adam snapped the image of himself and Annastasia with his drone, he put the camera away and savored that last delicious lap. “We skied all the way to the bottom—without taking any more photos! Just soaking up all the powder we could feast on,” he says.

When you look at Adam’s photos (lotsa good ones here), you can tell his main priority each day is to go out and have a wonderful mountain experience … and take photos while he’s at it.

“My favorite photography comes from going out and making decisions based on what’s fun, what’s safe, and what’s a good goal for the day. Then I try to reserve some time to take photos. That combo works for me and keeps my excitement really elevated,” Adam says.

If he’s psyched, he has energy to seek out a great photo. And that energy makes the images real and relatable. The viewer can feel the texture of a powder turn, marvel at the colors of a sunset silhouetting a skier, or thrill at the fluttering aspen leaves illuminating a mountain biker.

Adam has such an immense talent for seeing what an image could be and then capturing it (not to mention his prowess with his gear and equipment)—it would be a challenge for the rest of us to snap something nearly as sharp on our own tours or trail rides. But … it is encouraging to know that to capture our best images, we simply need to start by chasing down the best days. The rest will follow, and whether we take world-class photos or not, we’ll have memories worth keeping.

Beth Lopez is a seasoned writer and creative director who loves to tell tales of adventure and discovery—and finds writing a powerful way to give a voice to people, causes, and places. Beth runs amok in the Wasatch mountains when untethered from her computer. She believes there’s no such thing as a bad ski day and considers animals her favorite people. Don’t tell her mother about her Instagram mountaineering photos.