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Best of action in a snap

World’s top sports photographers compete for $10K prize

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By Nicole Fitzgerald

What: Pro Photographer Showdown

When: Wednesday, April 18, 9 p.m.

Where: Telus Conference Centre

Tickets: $20

The Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival invites five of the world’s top action sports photographers to shoot it out for a $10,000 cash prize at the Pro Photographer Showdown on Wednesday, April 18 at the Telus Conference Centre.

Nick Hamilton is one of the five, bringing more than 200 of his images choreographed into a 10-minute photo slide show set to music for the juried competition.

“I’ve never been to a Showdown, but one of my colleagues, Kevin Zachery, won last year and he said it was an amazing experience,” said Hamilton, the photo editor for Transworld Snowboard magazine. “He said there is nothing like it in our kind of work. I’ve received magazine awards before, but to project your work in front of 2,000 people… I’m definitely nervous and excited.”

The Pro Photographer Showdown is a festival favourite among people who want to see what else their favourite shutterbugs can do outside of a magazine cover or advertisement.

Instead of photo editors choosing their favourite pictures, the showdown participants are the ones in control, picking both pictures and music to communicate the story they have to tell.

For Hamilton, one of his images harkens back to a time before digital cameras and memory cards.

The snowboarding cliff jump image, shot on film, was a first in the industry. Hamilton set up the shot in the middle of the night in Wyoming with flashes surrounding the cliff.

“It was pitch black,” he remembered. “I sent the guy off the cliff to get the shot and it was so dark and the flashes so bright, it blinded us all for a couple of minutes after. He did stick it. Back then, with film, you didn’t know whether you got the shot or not. But a month later when I developed it, it definitely worked and got the cover of a magazine. Back then, experimenting with snowboard flash photography was something totally new.”

The half Brit, half Finnish native is curious to see whether audiences will be able to tell the difference between a 1997 image and a 2007 one. After shooting for 12 years, there were a lot of old slide sheets to dust off and scan.

While Hamilton will dedicate his show to snowboarding, fellow Transworld colleague Peter Taras, editor of Surfing magazine will showcase a waterworld exploration.

“His show will be very different,” Hamilton said. “Surfing is a lot more soulful; the tranquility of sitting in the water and waves coming over. We haven’t shown each other the photos of our shows. I am looking forward to seeing everyone’s shows.”

Endre Lovaas, senior photographer for Norway’s Fri Flyt; Jeff Curtes, principal photographer for Burton Snowboards; and Jody Morris, senior photographer for Transworld Skateboarding magazine, will also take to the screens.

This event always sells out. Pick up advance $20 tickets by visiting whistler2007.com. Doors 8 p.m.

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