By Nicole Fitzgerald
When readers in the thousands open the pages of TransWorld Snowboarding Magazine every month, Jody Morris feels nothing, unable to witness the reactions his photos inspire or hear feedback on the feats he snapped.
But at the Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival’s Pro Photographer Showdown, a competition that invites the world’s top five photographers to go head to head over a nine-minute multi-media photo presentation, the solitary nature of Morris’s work was cracked open with 2,000 audience members cheering his images on, images that landed Morris bragging rights and the top prize of $10,000 cash.
“This kind of event for photographers is such a once in a lifetime experience,” he said. “To have this many people looking at your work and being here to experience that… it’s the only event of its kind for sports action photographers.”
Instead of magazine editors photographers were at the helm, orchestrating roughly 200 images to music displayed on multiple big screens at the sold-out event.
Morris won over audiences right from the get go. An overview image of a monstrous yet poetic series of skateboard ramps set in the Mojave Desert instigated gasps and approving nods as the next series of images captured skateboarders riding ground and sky.
“It’s not sand,” Morris explained of the desert where lakes dried up and loose salt was transformed into concrete-like mounds after soaking in rain. “It was a cool skate park, but it was taken down to harvest the salt.”
Morris immortalized the desertscape as well as the skateboarders and snowboarders he snapped.
The veteran cameraman is the current in-house photographer for Plan B Skateboards and spent 10 years snapping as the senior photographer for TransWorld Snowboarding Magazine. The freelancer has also shot for almost every major skateboard magazine in the world as well as Men’s Fitness and various ad campaigns for DC Shoes, Etnies, Adido, Quicksilver, Nixon, Dakine and others.
Morris was the only Canuck competing in the event. Other Showdown competitors included Americans Peter Taras, Nick Hamilton and Jeff Curtes along with Endre Lovaas of Norway.
“Judging something like this is not something I would want to do,” Morris told the Showdown crowd after receiving his prize.
But if he had to choose, Curtes would have been at the top of Morris’s list.
“I really liked the variety and quality of his images,” Morris said. “He’s got an unbelievable eye. A lot of people can take a picture, but to have an eye for it is a rare thing.”
Morris becomes a part of the 10-year history of the Showdown, joining previous winners such as Aaron Chang, Grant Brittain, Sterling Lorence, Eric Berger, Paul Morrison and Blake Jorgenson - celebrating another great Canadian talent in the sports action photography industry.