Snow Shooter: Mattias Fredriksson

Mattias Fredriksson is a real Renaissance man. He’s worked as an editor, had his own magazine and is now a professional photographer with almost 400 cover images to his name. This September, Fredriksson will add another shot to his already impressive portfolio: the cover of Backcountry’s 2015 Gear Guide. Fredriksson took the cover shot that we’ll release next week on the last run after a day of skiing in the Kootenay Mountains, B.C. “One night we got 20 centimeters that made the skiing epic,” Fredriksson says. “This particular shot of Chad Sayers was taken before the mandatory—and camera free—home run down to the lodge.”

Fredriksson, who now lives in Åre, Sweden, caught up with us to chat about cover shots, the international language of photography and superpowers.


Home Mountain: Åreskutan, Sweden
Gear He Can’t Live Without: “My iPhone. You just click a few times and you have a flight booked to Japan or wherever you want to go.”
[Photo] courtesy of Mattias Fredriksson

Backcountry: How did you get into photography?

Mattias Fredriksson: I was actually a journalist when I was really young. I had my own magazine, and once I went to college I started to work for the local paper. I was 21, I think, when I landed my first job as an editor for FunSport Mountainbike. Then a bigger ski magazine in Sweden hired me. I started to photograph more, and I realized that writing in Swedish is pretty limited; there aren’t many people that speak the language. But photography speaks a very international language. A lot of my friends were pro skiers, so when their sponsors were asking for photos, I realized maybe I should give it a go and leave the mag. I never really looked back since then, so I think that was a good call.

BCM: If you could have a superpower, what would it be?

MF: I would say a time machine. Sometimes you are somewhere, and hopefully you are killing it, but there’s always a little bit greener grass somewhere else. It would be nice to be in Japan at the same time you are in B.C. or home or in the Alps.

BCM: What’s your biggest weakness?

MF: I say one more time and it is never one last time. It can go on until people tell me, “No, seriously get out of the mountains before it gets pitch black.” I get pretty into it.


Fredriksson revels in the early season in Åre, Sweden, his hometown. [Photo] courtesy of Mattias Fredriksson

BCM: What are some defining moments in your career as a photographer?

MF: Landing my first Powder cover shot was a very special moment for me. That was about 10 years ago now, and it was of a really good friend of mine. I get stoked every time I get a photo published. I just heard the other day that I have my first Backcountry cover shot, the Gear Guide, so I’m pumped for that. Something that I learned when I was making magazines is that the cover shot is always the most important photo in the whole magazine. That’s how you sell it. If somebody feels like the work you created with your friends is better than any other shot to do this job, then you definitely have done something good. Every time it’s always special. It’s important to appreciate all that.

BCM: Where does your inspiration come from?

MF: I get inspired by seeing other photographers’ work and just being out in nature. We live in a mountain town here in Sweden, so our lives revolve around training and being in the mountains. My girlfriend sometimes gets sick and tired of me because I stop all the time and am like, “Oh, here could be a cool shot.” For me it’s really important to leave the camera behind sometimes to be able to see everything with fresh eyes. I think if you are always on the hunt for pictures you don’t ski with the same energy.

BCM: Any words for an aspiring photograph?

MF: Find another career. No, just kidding. I think these days it’s really difficult to get into being a professional photographer because there are so many people doing it. You really need to have something special to bring to the table and really be dedicated, but it’s definitely possible. Really try to be unique. Many times it’s like, “OK, this is pretty similar to what I’ve seen before.” Maybe don’t move to Whistler or Chamonix because everybody has seen photos from there.

Also, be really good at whatever you want to photograph. If you want be more into real backcountry and ski touring, make sure to be in super good shape, and be a little bit of a mountaineer because nobody wants to wait for you. I also see so many good shots that don’t make it farther than Instagram or Facebook, many times because these photographers have no clue how to make a business. So that’s actually advice number one. Don’t just play. You have to deal with a little bit more of the boring stuff.

Next week, look for the release of Fredriksson’s cover shot for our 2015 Gear Guide, along with the announcement of this year’s Editors’ Choice Award-winning skis, snowboards, boots and bindings. 

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