A&E » Arts

The evolution of a pro

Renowned snowboard photographer Dano Pendygrasse prepares for eclectic exhibition



What: Dano Pendygrasse opening exhibition

When: Saturday, March 21, 7 p.m.

Where: Blake Jorgensen Gallery

Cost: Free

While there are plenty of Whistler residents who have been around for the long-haul, witnessing the town's evolution from a garbage dump into a world-class resort. Dano Pendygrasse has been busy capturing the transformation of the community - more specifically, the snowboard community - from behind the lens of his camera.

Born and raised in B.C., mountain culture is in this photographer's blood. Growing up in North Vancouver, he's had roots in Whistler for his entire life, traveling up with his parents for weekends and summers during his youth. He was a self-described ski racer brat with Whistler Mountain Ski Club from the age of six to 16, and as soon as he finished high school, he finally moved to the community.

"That was the year that they allowed snowboarding," he added. "I was one of the first snowboarding employees on Blackcomb."

Though Pendygrasse started out as a sponsored rider, he soon realized he wasn't good enough to make a career out of it. But he'd had a taste of the good life, traveling around the world on someone else's dime, and wasn't prepared to give it up. So he picked up a camera, instead.

Now, 17 years into a successful career, Pendygrasse stays true to his roots, maintaining that Whistler is still his favourite place to shoot.

"Whistler has something that no one else has," he said. "...It was purpose-built, and as a result, it has some perfect vibe that you can't find anywhere. Even the European villages that it's based on don't have the same vibe that Whistler has."

Despite this deep-seated love for the community, Pendygrasse admits that if he were an 18 year old looking to live the ski bum life today, he probably wouldn't have picked Whistler as his ski town of choice, because it's become almost impossible to stay true to the original ski-bum spirit of the town.

"But at the same time, the prerequisites for being a ski bum are basically, 'I want to go ski and I don't care about anything else,' so whereas we used to place five people into a three-bedroom house, now they'll pack 10 people into a three-bedroom house."

Over the years, Pendygrasse has also tried to bring his shooting back to the mountains, capturing realistic moments that the average rider can relate to, rather than profiling costly backcountry trips to distant locales like Alaska.

"Whistler and Blackcomb have enough stuff in-bounds or on the side country that you can actually shoot world-class shots on the terrain that is available to everybody," he said. "And I think that's really amazing."