today is Oct 01, 2022

Growing up in Utah’s Wasatch Mountains, Mary McIntyre came to love long days spent exploring at an early age. She now travels the world using skis, bikes, or running shoes as her catalyst for connection.

Since getting her first passport at three months old, she’s been in search of people, places, and stories, using her camera to capture images of her home range of the Wasatch, as well as locations such as the Himalaya, the Andes, and many lesser-known locales in between.

Her main focus now is on documenting the diversity of human experience through narrative and imagery. Mary has provided us with some magnificent imagery over the years and here she presents what she considers the Top 5 of her career so far.

Kasha Rigby. Selkirk Mountains, British Columbia

Photo Credit: Mary McIntyre

Kasha Rigby. Selkirk Mountains, British Columbia

I'm reminded often of how special and memorable a day in the mountains can be, even if it's nothing very special or memorable, just because of who I'm with. This day with Kasha Rigby, a longtime friend and ski mentor, and my Dad, out in the Canadian Selkirks, was one of those special days.

I'm often more drawn to skinning shots than action shots because I love the simple act of painting a skintrack onto the backdrop of the mountains. As Kasha crested this hill, everything else fell away and I was drawn to the lines of the landscape surrounding her. I love the basic white canvas with subtle shapes that could be snow covered hills or perhaps sand dunes. Maybe we're in Canada, or maybe we're on Mars. Although I also love images with more context and 'place', these ones with a dreamy, ethereal feeling are the ones that keep me coming back.

Carston Oliver. Wasatch Mountains, Utah

Photo Credit: Mary McIntyre

Carston Oliver. Wasatch Mountains, Utah

It was 2017 and I was about two years into making a go of ski photography. I wouldn't say I'd been very successful so far, but between selling a few images and writing a handful of stories for various ski magazines, I'd managed to start making connections in the community and thinking that maybe, just maybe, things would work out.

I became interested in a career in ski photography after a trip to northern India with the illustrious Marko Shapiro and Ace Kvale. Hearing their stories of a life steeped in deep powder, big mountains, and great friends sounded too good to be true. Talking to them was the first time I realized this niche even existed. I began pursuing it by shooting photos of friends out in the backcountry and at my local hill of Brighton, Utah.

Later that season I was invited to take part in the Salt Lake City Shootout, a photo competition based in the Wasatch Mountains. I'd never done any kind of photo competition and I was terrified. I'm not a very competitive person but I also wanted to do well competing against 5 other well-known, successful photographers. It would be embarrassing to not only be the sole female photographer represented but also to show up with lame photos. The pressure was on. I was stressed, but knew I had to give it a go.

I ended up having a great time with my team made up of Carston Oliver, Eric Balken, and Allie Rood. I shot my heart out and had a blast creating so many images. This image of Carston Oliver won some award that I can't remember now but more importantly, after the show (in which I got third overall, disappointing to myself at the time but still something), Dave Reddick walked over and suggested I send him a photo submission for Powder Magazine. This image made it in the Photo Annual that year and Reddick has continued to be a welcome source of knowledge and encouragement within the industry.

Mckenna Petersen. Selkirks Mountains, British Columbia

Photo Credit: Mary McIntyre

Mckenna Petersen. Selkirks Mountains, British Columbia

I've been going to British Columbia annually since 2016 to ski at Icefall Lodge and moving through the mountains there has shaped my ski photography greatly. I remember driving the 14 hour journey solo the first time, cruxing out through a near-white-out blizzard in the middle of the night before sleeping on a couch from 2am-5am before continuing my drive north. I was trying to pinch pennies wherever I could!

The different terrain and snow conditions in BC have provided a great learning environment and over the years I've developed many friendships through my time there. In 2019, I had the opportunity to stay at one of the lodges with some of my favorite ski partners: McKenna Peterson, Mali Noyes, and Keree Smith. With our small and nimble group, we got after it during our week in the Selkirks. After skiing a big line we'd had our eyes on all week, we ended up in this sparkly zone we called FairyLand right at sunset. Although admittedly mini-golf, these little spines looked too alluring to pass up. As McKenna dropped in on this one, I smiled at the simple pleasure of watching a talented skier swoosh through sunset snow. She told me afterwards that it was one of her favorite ski photos of her ever taken, and it instantly became one of mine as well, partially for the beauty of the scene and skier, partially for the wonderful memories attached.

Eric Balken. Hokkaido, Japan

Photo Credit: Mary McIntyre

Eric Balken. Hokkaido, Japan

I was so excited about going skiing in Japan for the first time. I'd seen images of the overhead blower powder and after being raised skiing in the Wasatch (which is known to have the "greatest snow on earth" -- check our license plates!), I could only imagine what more of that could be like. My nickname growing up was 'Powder Pig' and even as an adult I fully embrace the persona. I love powder.

So, Japan. Carston Oliver told me before leaving that Japanese powder would "ruin my life forever". He said I would never again be satiated by the normal 1-2 feet of blower… everything would change after my experience with this exorbitant amount of fluff.

It was as Carston said. Amazing. So good that I never wanted to stop. We did run after run and we often didn't shoot because it was just too fun. Our souls were filled with pure powder joy. But one run, another photographer and friend on the trip, Jay Beyer, wanted to shoot a few images. Since we were stopping anyways, I decided to set up a shot a bit lower down on the slope for whoever might come through my frame. When Eric Balken came flying through, I knew instantly that I'd gotten something special. This one ran in Powder's photo annual later that year.

Eric Balken. Wasatch Mountains, Utah

Photo Credit: Mary McIntyre

Eric Balken. Wasatch Mountains, Utah

While Carston Oliver was busy setting up his takeoff for the massive (60+ foot) air in the image above, Eric Balken was standing by, waffling over whether to hit the cliff. He'd already hit a few smaller (still big!) cliffs earlier in the morning and the snow was perfect.

As Carston explained, the cornices don't form takeoffs on these cliffs very often, the wind has to blow just the right direction and just the right amount, so it was a fairly special situation we found ourselves in. After Carston hit his air, Balken decided he couldn't pass up the opportunity. I knew I wanted to frame his jump differently and when I heard he was going to do a backflip, I thought it would be really interesting to frame it looking straight up at him.

I love the clean contrast in this image between the beautifully colored limestone, white snow, and tiny human way up in the air. This photo ended up being my first image published in Outside Magazine, I was psyched!

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