Call it an anniversary. Ten years after sweeping his first Pro Photographer Showdown, Blake Jorgenson has won his second.
The aftermath of this one will be a lot less hectic then the first time around, when Jorgenson was yanked out of his comfort zone into something he admits he wasn't quite ready for.
"There's always a danger of getting catapulted to a level that you might not be ready for," he says. "There was definitely a struggle 10 years ago (for) that reason, whereas now I'm pretty solid in my standings."
Jorgenson won the judges over with an intense presentation of images spanning the past decade that articulated perfectly the trials and exhilaration of mountain culture. He says he's essentially the same photographer he was 10 years ago. He's improved, of course, but he shares the same approach to the photos and carries the same overall vision - documenting the mountains and the people that play on and between them.
"There's always constant elements of drama, whether it's weather or an action," he says. "The mountains themselves just create a lot of power and drama, and that's something I've always been able to feed off of."
Jorgenson wasn't always acquainted with the mountains' mystique, though. Growing up in Ontario, the biggest bumps he'd see were man made. He visited Whistler for the first time when he was 16 and knew right then that he'd flee Ontario as soon as he got the chance. When he did, he lived the typical youth-in-Whistler lifestyle while teaching himself the fine art of photography.
Now, he's one of the most renowned mountain life photographers in the world, and the Pro Photographer Showdown was his chance to show the people of his chosen hometown exactly what he's capable of.
"Those shows are cool because normally your photography is diced up, and then it goes to different places - it's chosen by photo editors and art directors," he says. "The photographer himself has very little choice in how the photography is getting represented, so that kind of show where you get to creatively display your whole life's work is pretty much the best thing you can ever do as photographer."
He says the $10,000 prize will go "right back into the machine to make the photography better." Whatever that means. He's not even sure. It could mean newer equipment, but equipment is only a part of what it takes to be a successful photographer - something this self-taught shooter knows all too well.
"The picture-taking part is like step one out of 10 to make it happen," he says. "If you don't know all those extra steps, even if your picture taking is really good, it can be a real struggle," he says.
These extra steps will be touched on and talked about at the Whistler Outdoor Photography Workshops, a four-day program instructed by Jorgenson along with Eric Berger, Paul Morrison and Jordan Manley.
The fundamentals of action-sport and outdoor photography will be discussed as well, with Jorgenson hammering home his golden rule: set the shot up before the camera is in hand.
"If you have a very solid vision in your head of what you want, it's a lot easier to figure out how to get it," he says.
Registration is still open for the workshops. Attendees will need to bring all their own camera equipment, but Jorgenson says whatever camera you have is the best camera there is. Physical equipment is only part of the picture.
"Photography has a lot to do with your participation, of just seeing things," he says. "I would say overall that your most important piece of photography equipment is just your brain."
The workshops cost $1200. Spots are secured after a $400 deposit is made. For more information on the workshops, visit www.blakejorgenson.com/winter-11/whistler-outdoor-photography-workshops-2/.