today is Oct 01, 2022

Oskar Enander’s style is easily recognizable for its deep-blue, contrasting shadows and distinctive use of back and side lighting—perhaps a result of Oskar being colorblind… He often asks the folks he’s shooting with to tell him the color of their jacket or pants. And he doesn’t know what purple is at all.

I first met Oskar in 2002 over coffee in the lobby of the Hotel Bellevue. He was shy and serious as he passed a few slide sheets across the table. Since then Oskar has racked up covers around the globe, gallery shots, add campaigns for some of the biggest outdoor brands, photography and journalism awards such as European Photographer of The Year by IF3 and the first photographer to be awarded the Photo of the Year Award from Powder Magazine three times.

A year after we first met, we shared a ratty truck camper for three nearly shower-less months traveling through the Yukon and Alaska, a trip that started seven years of snow-machine and touring-based ski adventures in Haines, AK. Those trips were marked by many back-breaking 14 hour days exploring mountains, with more climbing, lifting and digging out sleds than actual skiing. Days that speak to Oskar’s commitment to the bigger picture; the adventure and satisfaction that comes while enduring tortuous conditions in sublime, wild places, even at the expense of one’s work. But when the camera comes out, it’s “110 percent business time,” as he likes to say. He’s the most commanding force on any photo shoot; he leads line choice and coordinates guides, all while directing and teaching other filmers. — Stephan Drake

Here, Oskar presents what he considers the Top 5 photos of his career to date.

Kalle Eriksson. Engelberg, Switzerland

Photo Credit: Oskar Enander

Kalle Eriksson. Engelberg, Switzerland

This is a very special image to me because it’s basically the launching point of my career. I had just picked up ski photography and moved from Sweden down to Engelberg, Switzerland during the winter 2002/2003. At that point I was far from calling myself a ski photographer but I had a few friends that were good skiers that I joined to build up my portfolio.

One day in the lift line I bumped into the legendary Swedish ski film crew, Free Radicals, and with them the photographer Gösta Fries. Gösta invited me to tag along and shoot which was huge for me. It was during these days I got this image of Kalle Eriksson. Me and Gösta were sitting shoulder to shoulder underneath this icicle cliff. I was lucky enough to get a frame of Kalle just in between two icicles.

The following summer it was time to start sending out submissions for the first time. I was a bit nervous when I sent that first email to Powder Magazine asking if they would like to see some of my work. I guess I wasn’t expecting to get an answer (no one had ever heard about me), but the next morning I had a reply from Dave Reddick asking me to send over my best original slides.

Fast forward to January 23rd in Aspen where Powder Awards were held with the best skiers in the world like Seth Morrison, Shane McConkey, Sarah Burke, Wendy Fisher, Mike Douglas and many more. I was also in the room, incredibly nervous so I actually don’t remember much of when my name was called to come up on stage to accept the Photo of the Year award. I do know that this was an incredible confidence boost for me to keep trying to make it as a ski photographer, after all this was my first ever submission and the first published photo so I couldn’t get a better start.

Julian Carr. Engelberg, Switzerland

Photo Credit: Oskar Enander

Julian Carr. Engelberg, Switzerland

The days of going off big cliffs in Engelberg seems to be gone, at least for now, but there were a few seasons when most big cliffs where getting hit frequently. Then, of course, there were cliffs that no one really looked at except maybe one or two people.

When Julian explained what he wanted to do I actually didn’t understand where he would take off, this was obviously way bigger than anything ”normal”. I remember how calculated he was. I think he went up to look at the take off 3 times to get his mark down low lined up and then back to the landing zone to probe and make sure his mark was correct. When he was ready I had checked my frame 100 times. This was not a shot you wanted to screw up with soft focus or bad framing, saying on the radio ”hey Julian, can you hit it again, I was out of focus” was not an option.

I got a bit surprised by the massive sluff that was set off. At first, it was too much and hard to see the cliff from my angle but luckily Julian took it easy towards the edge so the cloud settled a bit. As soon as he came flying through my frame I knew I had a special image, special enough to get awarded Photo of they Year for the second time.

Marcus Caston. Engelberg, Switzerland

Photo Credit: Oskar Enander

Marcus Caston. Engelberg, Switzerland

This image of Marcus Caston in Engelberg represents my personal style the best of these 5 selected images and it’s also one of my very favorite images. It has all the things I look for in a good image — the contrast between light and shadow and a clean and graphic frame that could be a nice image without a skier—but the action brings the image to life. In this case there is actually no direct sunlight hitting the snow It’s all on a shaded north facing slope but has reflected light from a south face close by.

I sometimes get questions if my color blindness has shaped the way I’m shooting and helped defined my style. It’s a tricky question because I don’t know how it is to not be color blind, this is just normal for me. Many times I like an image equally much in color or black and white. The dark blue shadows look amazing on their own but could look just as good when almost black. A RAW file always lacks that extra punch so it has to be edited and it can take some time for me to get the color image look as my eye sees it in real life. That’s why the black and white option is the faster way for me to see if it’s a good image in general. In this case I actually never thought about making this image in color, I just loved it in black and white and left it like that without even trying the color option. It was not until Dave Reddick sent me an email asking if it was ok to publish it in color... on the cover. I obviously said yes, but now I’m not sure which version I like the best anymore, haha.

Jamie Pierre. Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Photo Credit: Oskar Enander

Jamie Pierre. Jackson Hole, Wyoming

I was lucky to get to know Jamie Pierre and have many memorable days on the mountain with him. I first met him in Engelberg in 2004 where he randomly asked me if I wanted to tag along and shoot with the crew he was here with. Of course my mind was blown away of what I saw Jamie doing that trip.

This image if from a trip we had to Jackson Hole in late January of 2011 and it turned out to be the last time we saw each other before his passing in November the same year. It’s far from the biggest cliff I ever shot with him but it’s definitely my favorite image of Jamie. In one ”run” he launched four big cliffs and probably got more air time than most get in a lifetime. We got really lucky with the timing of the fog rolling in super fast, two minutes later we couldn’t see much.

Eric Hjorleifson. Sentry Lodge, British Columbia

Photo Credit: Oskar Enander

Eric Hjorleifson. Sentry Lodge, British Columbia

In mid-February 2014 I got an email from one of the directors at Sweetgrass Productions, Nick Waggoner, with a subject line of “The Dream Project”. Nick explained that he had an amazing crew with Pep Fujas, Eric Hjorleifson, Daron Rahlves and Chris Benchetler and he wanted to shoot full length lines 100% at night illuminating the faces with massive lights in different colors and the skiers would wear crazy light suits.

In considering this project, I must admit that I had my doubts. I knew that I couldn’t use any flashes and to light up full size pillow lines in BC and spine walls in AK we would need a massive amount of lights and power to make it possible for me to shoot stills. It was definitely my most challenging shoot from a technical standpoint with very high ISO and low aperture but also my most rewarding image wise.

This shot was taken a few nights into the project. We had just switched locations which meant hauling heavy generators, 70lbs light stands with lights and cables through deep and steep terrain. This location was more an open face with less features so it made it possible to use a few different lights projecting shapes and figures on the snow. At this point, Eric hadn’t received his full light suit and just skied with a smaller light panel on his backpack which made it possible for me to expose for the snow instead of a bright light suit. I remember I didn’t bother shooting him at the top of the line because of low light but the closer he got the more interesting it looked. As he came over a roll with his dynamic Hoji style it all exploded and I knew by then it would look good on my computer screen. It ended up gracing the cover of the 2014 Powder Photo Annual and also awarded the Photo of the Year, 3rd and last time for me.

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