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No Boundaries

Vote on Whistler's best backcountry photos
giant leap Cameron Hunter snapped a snowboarder flying down a mountain. Hunter is one of 14 finalists in the Out of Bounds photo competition. PHOTO BY cAMERON hUNTER

Blake Jorgenson will bring high standards and a discerning eye when he judges the Out of Bounds: Tales from the Backcountry photo competition this year.

"To me, a good photo is one that stops you dead in your tracks and gets you asking some questions," said the award-winning senior photographer at

Powder and Skier magazines. "A lot of them get evaluated on relevance and emotion. There's quite a few different ingredients that go into making a good photo stand out."

Shooting the perilous backcountry while factoring in weather, light, and a subject that's careening at high speeds down a mountain, can be especially challenging. But it's also part of an image's appeal.

"Taking a great photograph of a great moment that's yours, documenting this epic moment you and your friends have just shared and showing it to people, it's super awesome," Jorgenson added. "It's part of your experience of being out there."

This is the seventh year the Whistler Arts Council has held the contest. For the first time, only emerging photographers were allowed to enter. "We're hoping it encourages people to keep taking photographs," explained Andrea Mueller, visual arts programmer with the arts council. "Being (evaluated) by a professional jury like that definitely gives more credibility to the work you're doing. For an emerging artist, I think that alone is a bit of a boost that you should be continuing on your path."

The four judges shortlisted 14 shooters for a chance to win $1,000 and have their photo published in Mountain Life Magazine's winter issue. As an added perk, the public will get to vote on which image should win the People's Choice Award, a title that comes with an overnight cat skiing trip for two.

The exhibit kicks off with an opening reception Oct. 11 and the show runs until the end of the month. "The show is amazing. I put it up on Friday and it looks great," Mueller added. "We got a lot of really large pieces, which is great."

Jorgenson said while some of the entrants aspire to shoot professionally, many more just wanted a venue to showcase their work. Backcountry riding and photography tend to go hand-in-hand, he added.

"It's a big part of people's outdoor experience. It's just another important tool just like their skis or bikes. It goes beyond taking pictures as a hobby. It's super important for people to share and broadcast what they're doing in the backcountry and all the experiences they're having here in Whistler and beyond," he said.

The Sea to Sky corridor is jam-packed with shutterbugs, in part because the medium has become so much more accessible with the advent of quality, easy-to-use digital cameras. Still, Jorgenson added, much of the magic that creates a great photo goes beyond mechanics.

His advice: "I've always looked at (photography) as a competition with yourself. You're the only one that's going to convince yourself to get out of bed in the morning and get these photos."