When it comes to action photography, Matt Ford knows what he's talking about. Growing up in Alberta, Canada he was inspired by downhill photo greats of Sterling Lorence and Ian Hylands, and first got into photography through mountain biking. He then started climbing and was captivated by images of guys like Jimmy Chin and Alex Buisse and the stories they told about athletes from around the world doing what they love most.
Matt is still to this day inspired by Jimmy Chin's work, and lifestyle as both a climber and explorer. Jimmy was able to pursue his passion of photography by living out of his car, and borrowing a friends film camera. This led to one of his photos being purchased by a magazine, and its stories like this that fuel Matt thoughout his journey.
I caught up with Matt to talk about his three favourite activities to capture in action.
This winter I was able to spend quite a few days out ski touring, earning my turns, and found a lot of inspiration in the vastness of winter in the Rockies. I guess you could say I'm a true Canadian because I really enjoy winter, being cold and playing in the snow. Ski touring will take you so many places that seemed inaccessible before, and being able to share that with friends, all while capturing the feel of the day is pretty special.
Capturing images while ski touring brings some interesting challenges like avalanches though. Sometimes I'm the first one to ski down an aspect, meaning that I have to pay careful attention when someone is skiing above me. It also means that I have to carefully select what I bring with me in terms of lenses. It's crucial to keep weight down to a minimum, so I try to build a short list before hand and work from there.
Creating images of athletes bouldering is a lot of fun because it usually means that I'm able to bring lights and a bit of extra gear with me. Bouldering at night is not only fun, but ramps up the challenge and intensity of any problem. It's a bit different than sport climbing because I can move around a lot more, and the athletes can fall a lot, but still get back on the problem quickly to try it again.
My favourite places to climb are Skaha Bluffs and Lake Louise. The bluffs offer hundreds of routes within a relatively small area and the rock quality is phenomenal, letting you really push your limits without worrying about holds breaking or being hit by rocks from above. Lake Louise is definitely the most scenic crag in the Bow Valley offering some pretty spectacular rock and good variety of climbs from extremely easy sport to one of the hardest trad climbs in the world.
Mountain biking is what got me started in photography. I used to ride downhill when I was younger with a lot of racers and it's still one of my favourite sports to capture even though it has been a while since I got out. I've always loved the way that the speed and vertical aspects come together to create spectacular images of crashes and corners.
Matt's Best Items
Arcteryx R300 Harness | "Definitely makes climbing enjoyable. It packs down small which is important because I'm always carrying lots of camera gear. It weighs almost nothing and is incredibly comfortable even when hanging in it for a while."
Mammut Transformer 9.8mm Single Rope | "Whether I'm climbing or hanging out on the side of a cliff capturing images, it has proven to be a durable, affordable rope that is also eco-friendly and has great handling characteristics."
See Matt in action on Dooers to view his entire gear lineup. For a closer look at his action photography, you can check out his website, or visit him on Twitter and Instagram.
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