Growing up on the prairies of Calgary, Reuben Krabbe marks his move to the mountains of Whistler, B.C. as one of the defining moments in his photography career. He’s a towering six feet four inches, which means he ducks when entering most ski huts, but that hasn’t stopped him from capturing the passion at the core of our sport. Krabbe’s goal is to shoot more than just the athletes in his photos—he strives to capture “the soul, culture, community and natural beauty that defines the lives of [his] subjects,” he says. With multiple photography awards to his name, including the International Freeski Film Festival’s Up and Coming Photographer of the Year award, there’s no denying it—Krabbe’s got skills.
We caught up with the ever-humble Krabbe to talk about the perfect shot, how old-school literature can relate to ski photography and how to avoid getting jaded.
Backcountry: How did you get into photography?
Reuben Krabbe: I first started with mountain photography when I was mountain biking in Calgary, shooting photos with tiny little point-and-shoots. I slowly began to understand angles and how to get the best possible shot. I’ve been a skier pretty much all my life, so after shooting big mountain biking, I quickly started shooting skiing. Then all of a sudden I had this extensive hobby, and I chased it until it became a photography career.
BCM: What goes into making a great shot?
I love photos where there’s a whole story in a single image rather than just a little split second of something. I find that kind of image to be cool to create, as well as something that carries emotion.
BCM: Where does the inspiration for your photography come from?
I’m generally interested in almost anything. I will read stuff on physics, I’ll read stuff on economics, politics. I’ll read all kinds of old-school literature, spend time listening to music and notice different ways that you can pull ideas or concepts from other things and find similarities across different mediums. Photography is all encompassing because it touches every side of my life. It’s sort of a full lifestyle.
BCM: What are some defining moments in your career?
I’d say probably the biggest one overall was choosing to move to Whistler. Plus, the winter before that I lived in a van some of the time, shooting photos of any athlete I could meet. After that I got the opportunity to shoot in the Deep Winter Photo Challenge in Whistler, which was a huge validating stamp on my career.BCM: What’s the sketchiest experience you have gotten yourself into while backcountry skiing?
Not this winter but last winter I did a trip in the Yukon to try to capture an image of a skier under the northern lights, and generally the whole trip was a pretty big lottery. It was one of the first times I had gone winter camping, and it was -30º Celsius at night. Any problem would have escalated very quickly, so generally that whole week was pretty sketchy overall. We played our cards right and conservative but it definitely was pretty wild.
BCM: Any words for an aspiring photographer?
If you think that photography is going to be a wispy, beautiful dream then you might end up sort of jaded. It takes a long time to be successful, and when you do get to the point where you could be a professional photographer it is still a ton of work, but it’s also an amazingly rewarding career, so it’s worth chasing.