Legends of the lens 

Pro Photo Forum hosts four legends of action sports photography at educative seminar

What: Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival

What: Pro Photo Forum

When: April 19

Where: Telus Conference Centre

Tickets: $40

Taking pictures for a Quebec model shoot for a Canadian catalogue company, the then-21-year-old Eric Berger never expected to be where he is today: one of the leading sports action photographers in North America with more than 60 international clients and publications in every snow magazine possible.

So how did he do it?

Get the inside dope on how to make it in the sports action photography industry by hearing it from the pros who work the scene at the Pro Photo Forum April 19 at the Whistler Conference Centre, part of Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival.

"If you are producing quality and relevant material, it is not that difficult to get in (to the industry)," Berger said. "If you are producing marginal photography of marginal action, then there is no getting in…. If you get yourself immersed and produce consistently, you can get in the door because the industry is always looking for images."

Relevant and quality photos consistently submitted are only a few tips ready to be unearthed at the practical learning forum.

Whistler’s Berger is one of four panelists contributing to the forum facilitated by Leslie Anthony, editor of SBC Skier Magazine. Fellow panelists include Aaron Chang, Grant Brittain and Jon Foster.

Some discussion topics include how to get started in the industry, the business end of things and the technical requirements of shooting action sports.

Berger emphasized the importance of business.

"Your sense of business is just as important as a good photo," Berger said. "In any business, you need to know how to get yourself out there, talk with clients, negotiate deals and how to justify your pricing and position if you are not willing to compromise in a deal. Whether shooting for someone or shooting for yourself, the whole business aspect is crucial."

Professional pricing, image licensing and copyright laws are a few of the other topics that will be addressed.

Equipment and lighting will also be covered. Berger prefers natural light shooting when he can, making some of his athletes wait up to two hours to jump off a cliff, staking out the perfect light.

But when it comes to the equipment itself, Berger is all about speed – as speedy as the athletes he shoots.

"One of the most crucial things for me is motor drive: the ability to shoot sequences as opposed to just trying to snap and get lucky," he said. "High speed action sports like skiing, snowboarding, surfing and skateboarding require it. It’s the number one thing."

It’s not surprising his second equipment recommendation is high-speed lenses to match.

Berger can also shed light on the new age of digital photography. The film photographer of more than 16 years recently switched to digital.

"It’s a big step financially and creatively," he said. "In my mind it became a necessary step: one, the industry was ready for it and two, to stay competitive. There is a tremendous flexibility with digital that you don’t have with film. You get a higher rate of success in consistency."

Again, everything boils down to quality – something all four successful panelists are extremely familiar with.

The forum is $40. Register in advance by visiting www.whistler2006.com.


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