Bissell Hazen has lived all over the place—Telluride, Maui, Kauai, and 12 years in Jackson Hole. He now lives in Seattle, Washington, and shoots for Powder, Backcountry as well as doing commercial work for Cloudveil, Mountain Hardwear, and Salomon. As a climber, skier, and artist, Hazen works to combine his talents into complex action imagery, occasionally with some close calls. Hazen spoke to Skiing Magazine contributor Sally Francklyn to elaborate on this shot of David de Masi at Mount Baker, Washington, which made it into the magazine's annual “Best Shots of the Year” photo gallery (December 2008).
SKIING: How did you get into photography?
For as long as I can remember, I have been interested in photography. There were too many times when the sun would pop out and the beauty of the mountains was just too great to not be photographing it. Over time, creating imagery became my focus and goal every time I got out in the hills.
SKIING: What was the day like when you shot this photo?
It was completely foggy and light really does not get any worse than it was that day. David “The Avalanche” de Masi wanted to ski it. I said it would probably slide, but he didn’t care, and just as he was getting ready to go, the sun came out just a little bit. All I saw was a blob of white as he flew by and didn’t really think much of the shot until I looked at it more closely later on. And yes, the slope did release, but he came out fine at the bottom going Mach 90. If you look closely in the shot, you can see it fracturing just behind him.
SKIING: What do you like best about this image?
The light and crystals in the air, the huge powder plume, and the fracture line behind the skier. And the fact that a local guy vibed me and inferred that I was clueless trying to create ski imagery that day. Yeah, right on, buddy!
SKIING: Any tips for snapping a shot like this one?
Be there and try to notice the subtleties and snow and light. And shoot what you want, not what you necessarily think is publishable.