Mason Mashon may be young, but after impressing crowds at the Pro Photographer Showdown this year he quickly made a name for himself with his unique angles and first person perspectives. Hailing from Whistler, Mason grew up with the Voleurz crew in Vernon and loves getting outside to shred, whether it be mountain biking, surfing, skiing or snowboarding. We sat down to see what he has to say about his career and life as a photographer.
Before getting started I’d like to say that your slideshow during the Pro Photographer Showdown was fucking badass. Congrats on doing such an amazing job with it.
Hey thanks man! I’m pumped you enjoyed it.
When and where did you find out you were going to be one of the invited photographers? What were some of the initial thoughts that went through your head?
I was driving my truck in downtown Victoria in mid March and when I got that phone call, I just started fist pumping and honking the horn! I couldn’t believe that I was chosen and at that point I knew I had a huge task on my plate and had to step up my game big time. The ideas just started flooding my brain and I instantly started making phone calls.
How much time did you have to prepare for the showdown and how much did it change your current plans?
I had four weeks to prepare the slideshow, and upon being selected, I dropped my shifts at my job on a days notice and started cruising around BC meeting up with friends to shoot. That trip took me back to Vancouver Island, up to Kamloops and Spences Bridge and all the way to the Sunshine Coast.
Did you try and focus on one aspect of photography or just tried to cram in as many trips in as possible?
I really wanted to round out my portfolio in each of the disciplines that I enjoy shooting, so I tried to mix things up as much as possible, enabling a wider variety of images and locations. One element I focused on was my POV perspectives, which transcend across each of the disciplines I shoot.
In the one month, I shot surfing, mountain biking, skiing and snowboarding. Which was only made possible by our beautiful province, and it’s localized climate zones.
Is there any one discipline you enjoy shooting more?
That’s a tough question…I’d like to say that I enjoy shooting mountain biking the most, because I still shred super hard when I’m carrying my camera bag, which tends to be a bit risky sometimes. But at the same time, going out sledding to shoot skiing and snowboarding is so much fun, especially when its deep.
In terms of the end result, are you more stoked on your mountain biking work or something else?
I’m really happy with all of my work, especially my most recent, but I think that my mountain bike work has become a lot stronger because of my participation in the sport as an athlete. I also think that with mountain biking, there’s a lot less conditional influences such as the weather, which make it easier to produce banger images.
When did you get started in actions sports?
I’ve always been into action sports in some capacity. I started skiing when I was four, snowboarding when I was nine, started competing in downhill mountain biking at eleven, started surfing when I was seventeen. I need to be outside and doing something pretty much everyday, or else I go crazy.
What got you into photography?
I’ve always enjoyed taking photos, but it wasn’t really until I crewed up with Voleurz in University when I decided to take it to the next level.
What did it take to make the step from amateur to pro?
Getting accepted into the Pro Photog showdown.
Do you have any advice for aspiring photogs on how to make that happen?
My biggest piece of advice is to make sure you take the extra steps to get to those sweet angles. If it doesn’t look quite right, move around, re-frame, and make sure the compositions are perfect. There’s obviously more than just taking pictures in the job of a pro photographer, but having strong imagery is the first step.
What’s it is like to ride and hangout with the Voleurz crew?
It’s always a very positive and entertaining experience. We’re constantly cracking jokes, and poking fun at each other, while high fiving and enjoying the shred missions. Everyone is super close friends, so it makes it easy to communicate our ideas to each other.
Do you plan on spending a lot of time with them over the summer and next season? Or do you have some big trips planned already?
I’m going to be tied up coaching mountain biking in the bike park this summer, but I’m sure we’ll all be hanging out playing volleyball and horseshoes. I do have a couple trips up my sleeve and I’m in the works of getting them written on the calendar. I’ll be working closely with Voleurz on the video side of things and I’m trying to push Darren to produce a mountain bike video with me.
What was the most life changing trip/photo/experience/etc you have experienced over the years?
I’ve only been at it for a couple years now, so I don’t really have a ton of experiences to reflect on, but I would say that my one month journey before the contest last week was one of the most life changing experiences for me. I’ve never had so much fun traveling and chiseling off ideas from my bucket list. I explored more new zones and places in that condensed period of time, and produced more photos that I was really proud with than I ever have before in that kind of time frame. Then being able to present my entire body of work in my home town among my peers and my friends, that was a life changing experience in it’s own.
Tell me about that experience, it must have been quite special being the youngest out of the bunch.
I don’t think I’ve ever been more stressed than I was two hours before the show. I’d been having troubles uploading my show onto the computers they use to project the presentations all week and went through probably 15 different compressions to try and get it to work. Luckily I had Jeremy to share the stress with, because his wouldn’t work either and we literally had to go down to Function Junction and buy an adapter so we could play the shows off of a laptop. Finally, with only a few hours to spare, they got it to work, and the stress began to dissipate. Being the youngest was definitely an honor because having my work sit next to some serious veterans and be appreciated on the same level was definitely an injection of self-confidence.
How much of an impact do you think being part of the pro photo showdown will have on your career?
I think there will be a huge impact from this. The contest instilled credibility in my skills, as well as provided worldwide exposure to my name, and in which case I am now setting up my own business so that I can pursue photography as a full time gig. I had been patiently waiting for the right opportunity, and this contest was it.
Where do you see yourself in a year from now? in 5? in 10?
I can’t forsee more than a year, but I’d like to have my hands in all of the pies in the future. From mountain biking, to surfing, to skiing and snowboarding, I want to travel the world with my camera, and by doing fun-filled activities I don’t think there’s any better way for me to fulfill that dream.
Sounds like a pretty rad lifestyle. Will you always call Whistler home?
Whistler has so much to offer in such a short distance geographically, so I think I will stay in the Sea to Sky region for a long time. It’s hard to leave once you’ve been here for a while.
Are there any destinations you really want to check out soon?
I’d like to explore more of Vancouver Island and get down to Utah sooner than later. I’m also interested in hitting up Sweden for mountain biking this summer.
In terms of shooting video or photos, do you have anything you are really excited to try out? Can you give us a sneak peak?
I’m really interested in shooting surfing from in the water. Voleurz is shooting a surf video this year and we will be ordering a housing for that, so you can only imagine I’m keen to give it a whirl.
I’m excited to see what you can produce in the water. The pro photo showdown was a real eye opener in terms of the surf side of things for me.
I figure my surfing experience should help a bit, so it will be an exciting undertaking.
What was it like growing up in Vernon? Do you think you would be where you are today if you grew up elsewhere?
Vernon was such as awesome place to be growing up. The mountains were super close by for skiing and mountain biking, and the supporting community surrounding those who enjoy the outdoor lifestyle is amazing. It’s tough to imagine what life would be like growing up elsewhere, but I think that the friends I made there have a huge impact on where I am today. Not to mention, they’re kicking some serious ass on their skis these days. Oh, and Kalamalka lake is also the best lake in the whole world for those who don’t know.
I didn’t know that! You going to be around Vernon this summer? I might have to couch surf for a bit.
Summer volympics yo! Come jam with us.
How did the Volympics go last weekend?
Dude, so kick ass.
What are the Volympics all about?
It’s all about reuniting our close group of friends, partying, having fun, playing games, comradery etc.
Peep Voleurz.com for an update on Sundays event.
Thanks a lot Mason! Anything closing thoughts?