I didn’t grow up skiing. To be honest, I didn’t really start skiing until I was about 25 years old. To be completely honest, I used to be a snowboarder. However, as a late bloomer, I can recall the exact moment I became a skier. On a boys trip to Powder King in Northern BC, I was the lone snowboarder amongst skiers. As we ducked the line and rode deep powder out of bounds, we always returned back to the lift via a flat road. Post-holing along while my friends easily walked on top of the deep snow, I vowed to learn how to ski. I have yet to strap on a snowboard in the 17 years since.
It was around this same time that I began to take photography more seriously. I had acquired a Nikon F65 camera from my parents, who decided to buy me a camera for Christmas since it seemed to be the one thing I showed any interest in other than partying and moving from the East Coast to the mountains of the West as soon as possible. I had no career path ahead of me and was aimlessly floating along as a server in the resort town of Jasper, Alberta. I began shooting film with my friends, taking my camera on bikes rides, hikes and eventually skiing. I wasn’t good and I didn’t have anyone to teach me about composition, lighting or what an f-stop was. But, the girl at the photo shop was cute and at that age it was enough to keep me coming back in, buying more film and trying to create something that might eventually impress her. What ended up happening is that I fell in love (not with the girl at the shop) with photography and became obsessed with getting better. I spent loads of money on film and processing, to the point where I thought I would have to stop because I couldn’t really afford to keep it up. And then the digital revolution hit the photography world. My parents must have seen something in me that I didn’t see in myself, so they bought me my first digital camera and I began learning at an accelerated pace. I could make mistakes, get instant feedback, then correct those mistakes instantly. It thrust me forward into thinking that maybe this was something of a career path.
A few years and a broken heart later, I made the decision to move to Revelstoke, BC. I had one friend in town and wasn’t exactly sure why I was moving there. But it sounded like it snowed a lot and that the backcountry wasn’t as scary as the Rocky Mountains. I bounced around for years, working as a snowcat driver and trail builder, all the while honing my skills as a photographer but also as a backcountry skier. I fell in with a crowd of dedicated backcountry enthusiasts and spent every day lugging around my camera gear. I vividly remember leaving my gear at home one day and having the light firing in Rogers Pass. I vowed to never leave it home again. Being in the right place at the right time is paramount for success in backcountry photography, but if you don’t have the gear with you, you’ll never get that shot.
Having some success as a photographer became addicting to me, wanting to improve my skills enough to make it a career. It wasn’t (and still isn’t) easy, but it finally got to a point where I needed to ‘shit or get off the pot’. When I finally quit both of my jobs and committed fully to photography, I was forced to make decisions that I couldn’t make previously because of the safety net of a secure job. I knew it was the right decision but it was the scariest professional moment of my career. However, a mere 3 months after making that decision, I scored the cover of Powder Magazine and my career took off from there. I never even had the chance to look back. — Bruno Long