today is Nov 28, 2021

In 2009 I left a corporate finance career in New York City to move west in search of a lifestyle that would be centered around the outdoors. I landed in Salt Lake City, Utah with no idea what I would do except spend my first winter as a ski bum at Snowbird Ski Resort. I landed a job working inside a small photography shop at the resort called Powdershots where I’d be able to ride every day and work the afternoon shift. Up until this point I had never shown much interest for photography or art in general. I probably had never picked up a Powder magazine or watched a TGR movie, but at the ripe age of 32, I was instantly mesmerized by ski photography. After a few months of working in the shop and learning how to use a camera in my free time, the owner offered me a chance to capture ski photos during a powder day on the hill. I remember being both nervous and excited to post up in the back bowl at Snowbird. I took photos until there was no powder left before returning to the shop to view the results. That afternoon I sold a set of digital images to a tourist who was beyond stoked that I captured him in deep powder. My boss came up to me, congratulated me, and informed me that I should now consider myself a professional photographer! While I was far from it, that day will always be etched in memory as the start of my photography career.

Over the next few years I consumed myself with learning everything I could about photography while also learning how to become a more proficient snowboarder. I gravitated towards shooting skiing as many of the friends I made on the mountain happened to be skiers and would invite me out to shoot photos of them. I bought every ski magazine I could and studied skier form, composition and use of light. I eventually worked my way into the backcountry and started to explore more terrain with my friends. When it was not winter I worked hard to develop a portfolio of landscape imagery which drove me to explore the unknown and accomplish my initial goal of being outside.

In the Spring of 2013 I mustered up the courage to send over my best images from the past winter to Powder Magazine, and soon after, I had my first image published. At that moment in time I knew ski photography was something I would pursue to my fullest ability.

Fast forward to 2021 and I am beyond grateful for what the ski community has provided to me. I’ve traveled to beautiful locations in Alaska, Canada, Norway and across the states in pursuit of capturing a fleeting moment of a skier in powder. To have my images published alongside some of the greatest sports photographers in the world is an honor that will never get old. Until then, I will continue my career as a photographer spending my winters in the deepest powder I can find. I’m truly living my dream and proof you can accomplish whatever you put your mind to.

Selecting my top 5 images almost felt like a punishment. Trying to decide which images, which friends of mine I would include, while also showing a variety of work was a challenge. I hope you enjoy the five I’ve selected. — Jay Dash

Dan Rihm. Southwest Utah. 

Photo Credit: Jay Dash

Dan Rihm. Southwest Utah. 

Before moving to Utah, I had never spent any time in the desert. When I was first introduced, I instantly fell in love with the red rock landscape. After a few years of shooting skiing I realized there were a few select locations in the desert that were at a high enough elevation and when it snowed enough, were skiable. In 2018 my friends and I made a quick strike mission in hopes of catching desert pow. When we showed up we thought we may have been a day late but we managed to find some northerly aspects that held up perfectly. We tip toed around complex and dangerous terrain all day.  Near the end of the day I saw a sliver of light below us and instructed Dan to ski right through it. Dan did the rest making beautiful turns exactly where I was hoping, creating a memory for both of us that will last forever.

Willie Nelson. Little Cottonwood Canyon, Utah. 

Photo Credit: Jay Dash

Willie Nelson. Little Cottonwood Canyon, Utah. 

The crowning achievement of my ski photography career. This image was selected as the cover of the 2018 Powder Photo Annual. What makes it even more special is that it was created with my good friend Willie. It was early evening and I was in search of a backlit ridge that we could create a clean silhouette type image of Willie throwing up powder. We were fortunate to find a clean slope in what normally is a busy area for backcountry skiing. Without giving away the entire story, my request to Willie for a right foot turn at the apex of the frame turned into a left foot turn as Willie adjusted on the fly to avoid an object on the slope. Maybe it was a stroke of luck or maybe Willie knew all along that the left footer was the money shot!

Ty Peterson. Snowbird, Utah. 

Photo Credit: Jay Dash

Ty Peterson. Snowbird, Utah. 

It’s only fitting I include an image from Snowbird of Ty Peterson. Ty was one of the first skiers that I shot with. He approached me early on, when I was still new to shooting ski photos, and asked me if I wanted to shoot with him. I was delighted for the opportunity as it led to many memories and a great friendship. This particular image was taken in an area at Snowbird that is rarely open but considered inbounds. One morning, while hiking out to ski powder, we saw a cliff that looked really good. We had never seen or heard of anyone hitting it. Ty checked the landing zone. Once he approved, we knew it had the chance of being a special image. Ty soared over the Salt Lake Valley with a perfect safety grab to complete the image.

Carlo Travarelli. Little Cottonwood Canyon, Utah. 

Photo Credit: Jay Dash

Carlo Travarelli. Little Cottonwood Canyon, Utah. 

Another image of a really good friend and someone I consider a mentor in the ski world. Carlo has one of the silkiest smooth skiing styles you will ever come across. This was on full display when I asked Carlo to ski this ridge in the LCC backcountry. I knew the frame had potential while shooting with a telephoto lens which allowed me to stack multiple ridge lines down canyon and across the Salt Lake valley. The hard part was how to communicate over the radio where I wanted Carlo to ski.  I left that up to Carlo as I trusted his experience and ability to understand what I was looking for. The image turned out great, though Carlo almost skied too fast for me to capture the frame I desired. Then again, the long backlit contrail of snow would not have happened if he did not ski aggressively. This image never made it into print but Carlo’s wife was nice enough to get him a framed copy for his birthday!

Sam Cohen. Meadow Lodge, British Columbia

Photo Credit: Jay Dash

Sam Cohen. Meadow Lodge, British Columbia

It would be hard to have a top 5 and not include an up-close powder photo. Sam Cohen may be one of the best in the business, not only at skiing, but at understanding what is needed to create a great ski image.  On this given day at Golden Alpine Holidays Meadow Lodge, we woke up to 30 cm’s of right side up, stable powder.  It was already deep before the overnight storm which made for one of the all-time great powder days of my life. This particular image was captured while Sam was skiing a line for a video production he was working on.  Every image has its own unique qualities.  To me, this image resonates that feeling one achieves when making turns in the deepest of powder.  Seeing Sam’s eyes helped complete the image for me as we don’t always get to see a skier’s focus when skiing in deep powder.

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