For the last six years, the Ski Salt Lake Shootout has selected eight of the best action photographers to compete in a whirlwind, four day photo shoot worthy of bragging rights. This photo competition pairs hardcore ski photographers with professional athletes to capture expert skiers shredding Utah’s champagne powder. This year, jans.com photographer, Mike Schirf, was awarded second place in this grueling four day event. And we couldn’t be more proud.
One of the Chosen Few Ski Photographers
According to Ross Downard, Jans.com Photo Editor, “This is a really big accomplishment for Mike. The Ski Salt Lake Shootout is a very demanding competition. To just get through it, let alone place, is huge.” To be considered, each photographer must submit a portfolio along with a 150 word explanation of why they should be one of the few chosen to compete. Once accepted, the photographers are paired with three professional skiers and are assigned to shoot at different resorts each day. The locations flip flop between Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons, taking place at Snowbird, Alta, Solitude and Brighton ski resorts.
Lots of Powder Skiing Means Long Days
While skiing and shooting photos for four days straight sounds like a blast to most powder hounds, the schedule can be pretty demanding. Imagine hitting the park and ride each day at 5:30am, before the sun even comes up and shooting until it gets dark at 6pm. Even then the day isn’t over. Mike would head home only to spend more time editing his photos each night. “They are long days,” he says. “It wears on you. By the last day you’re pretty tired.”
One of the other challenges of the competition is the uncertainty of weather conditions. “It’s not necessarily fresh snow or awesome light,” says Ross. “Photographers have to make the best of what they are given.” Thankfully this year’s conditions were actually pretty good, compared to an abysmal snowfall in 2012.
Tyler Peterson, Marcus Caston & Pip Hunt
Good weather and a bit of fresh pow, combined with the fact that Mike had photographed all three members of his team in the past, made this year’s competition that much more fun. “Everybody on my team had a great attitude and they were all excited to work hard,” recalls Mike. Tyler Peterson, a sponsored athlete who competed on the Dew Tour, brought the aerial trickster aspect to the group. Marcus Caston and Pip Hunt, sponsored athletes who were also former ski racers, completed the team with their exceptional technique and great skiing style. All that remained was getting the right shot.
And that is exactly what drives Mike Schirf to continue to compete, year after year. “You have to think outside of the box and think differently about how to set yourself apart,” he says. That’s even more important when you’re in the company of pretty exceptional photographers. Rounding out the top three winners were Steve Lloyd, who repeated his 1st place finish from the 2012 competition and Tony Harrington an Australian surf and ski photographer who finished a shoot in Hawaii before competing in this year’s Shootout.
Ski Salt Lake Shootout 2014
Mike’s 2nd place finish was especially sweet after he had secured a 3rd place victory in 2012. We’re thinking that he is well on his way to capturing 1st place in 2014. Sorry Steve Lloyd, but the Jans family is backing one of our own.
Either way, we can guarantee that Mike will continue to take amazing photos to feature not only on jans.com but in major national ski publications as well. To see more of Mike Shirf’s award winning photos click here.
Liz Yokubison, Senior Editor, jans.com