Eric Berger has established himself as one of the premier ski and snowboard photographers of the world. Originally from Montreal, Quebec and now living in Whistler, British Columbia, his photographs shot in B.C. and around the world have inspired countless athletes and photographers alike. To celebrate the return of Red Bull Illume in 2013, we asked Eric Berger some questions on photography, his environment, and his experience as a category finalist in the contest.
Your winning photo in the New Creativity category in Red Bull Illume 2010 features an incredible ice formation. How did you spot it?
It was a friend of mine, Adam Topshee who spotted the zone and figured it would be prime for photos. He, Dan Treadway, and I headed out on snowmobiles and started working around the perimeter, progressively getting deeper into the features. Eventually, I saw the potential of getting an interesting perspective by climbing into this ice cave and shooting back towards the opening. It was definitely nerve racking but worked out well in the end.
You shoot a multitude of sports, but skiing and snowboarding feature most heavily in your portfolio. What inspires you about these snow sports?
I love to ski and I’ve also snowboarded for many years. It really helps to shoot subject matter you know and understand – particularly in action sports because you want to capture the essence of the sport and have viewers relate. Also, if you shoot subject matter you love, it seems less like work. I really enjoy being in the mountains and working outdoors and with my love for snow sports, it’s a natural fit.
â€¨You’ve lived on both the East and West coasts of Canada. How has living in this country played a role in your photographic career?
I moved to Whistler in 1986 at the age of 23 to live and ski on big mountains. I had studied photography in college and tried my hand at studio photography but was happiest when shooting friends doing outdoor sports. When I first moved to Whistler, I got a job shooting video for the resort but eventually came back to my photography background as a way to make a living. It was all very fluid and natural. Whistler is such a beautiful place and has such a deep talent pool that it was a perfect fit for me.
â€¨In previous interviews, you’ve emphasized the importance of composition in photography. How do you ensure the athlete is exactly where you want to capture them when working in vast, outdoor environments?
By communicating with the athlete and understanding what is about to go down, you can compose an image and anticipate where the action is going to take place. This is the key to good composition. It is important to anticipate the speed of the athlete and know exactly where he or she will go. It’s definitely a challenge and I don’t always nail it, but if you shoot just lose enough, you can also crop the image in post-production in order to make it work. It’s definitely best to nail it at capture time however. Communication is key!
â€¨What advice do you have for photographers submitting to the 2013 edition of Red Bull Illume?
Be very critical of your work. Look for images that are out of the ordinary and convey a special something. It’s better to submit only a few very strong images than a bunch of marginal shots. Good luck!
Submissions to Red Bull Illume are open until April 30th, 2013. Enter by going to the following link: http://www.redbullillume.com/contest/register.html â€¨â€¨Check out the news section of the website or the Facebook fanpage for the latest updates. You can also find all the picture galleries, features, interviews, videos, and more on the site!