Ben Birk Interview
How old are you and where are you from?
I’m 18 and from PA. I’ll be moving up to VT in the next two weeks.
What are you going to VT for?
I’m the new photo editor of east coast snowboarder.
Ben in Costa Rica
Congrats man! So, let’s get a little history on you, spill it.
Alright, well when I started high school I always wanted to take the photography class, so when 11th grade rolled around I took the class and was so stoked on it. Took it up to the mountain half way through the 2005/2006 season and was hooked ever since.
What came first: snowboarding or photography?
Definitely snowboarding. I don't even know how many years I have been riding…at least 7 I think. The main thing that pushed me to snowboarding photography is that I saw all my bros getting better then I was, so I always wanted to be in the snowboarding industry and right around that time I got injured and pick up a camera.
Late season riding at Big Boulder
So with so little schooling and experience how do you land a job as photo editor in under 2 years?
I wish I could say destiny but it’s more like a lot of hours spent behind the camera experimenting and researching on the net. Definitely the biggest help is my bro Sam Muller (www.sammuller.com). Kids younger and better than me… your interview should be on him not me! lol
Where did you shoot this year and what was your favorite spot?
I got to travel a lot this year compared to last year. I shot at Ski Roundtop, Ski Liberty, Bear Creek, Big Boulder, Mt creek, Stratton, 7springs, and Jack Frost. Big Boulder has to be my favorite. There has not been a time I didn't go and come home with something I was stoked on. They always have the best parks and all my friends from New Jersey can meet us there to ride and shoot.
Emery with the steeze factor
You shoot a lot of park this year, any plans to shoot more urban or backcountry?
Yes, I really want to start to move out of the park. Park shots are a lot harder to get into magazines because they’re a dime a dozen. This next year in VT I’m hoping to get to shoot with kids who hit handrails regularly. As for BC, it’s still the east coast…enough said.
So give us a play by play on what would happen when you’re shooting something.
- First off, you have to find out what your bros (or gals) are feeling and want to shoot.
- 2nd start to scope out angles while they start hitting it. Try and walk or visualize a full 360 around the object to find the best angle.
- 3rd decide if I want to use flash or not. Let’s say I want to use to flashes.
- 4th decide flash placement and meter them. Dial in my exposure and get posted up in my angle.
- 5th snap the photo and peep it to make sure it’s legit.
- 6th throw the cam back in the bag and get on to the next spot.
Mike Bennett ending the day right
You were talking about flashes and stuff… what equipment do you have?
Ughh I get asked this and "dude how much was that" all the time. Let me see…
- Canon EOS 20d body
- Tokina 10-22mm f3.5-4.5 fisheye
- Canon 18-55mm 3.5-5.6 (POS)
- Canon 50mm 1.8
- Canon 70-200mm 2.8
- Holga 120 format body
- 4 pocket wizzard
- 3 sunpack 555 flashes
- 3 light stands
- Sekonic l-358 light meter
- 2GB Sandisk ultra 2
- 1GB Sandisk ultra 2
- Macbook Pro 15 inch core 2 duo processor
- Huey monitor calibration
- Burton zoom back pack
- Some crappy card reader
- 2 External hard drives
So you’re shooting all digital?
All but my Holga 120 which is a film camera. I think I took maybe 3 photos with it this year and the film is still in the camera. I’m not big on film. Digital lets me learn a lot faster and cheaper then film.
What's the best, worst, and weirdest part of being a snowboard photographer?
- Best - All the good times with my bros.
- Worst - Shitty weather and kids with bad attitudes.
- Weirdest - Probably when I go somewhere new and the kids there already know who I am and my work. It freaks me out because I’m still so small in the industry.
What are you goals for the next few years?
I would love to shoot with the Holden guys, Capita, or the Mack Dawg people projects or the think thank guys. I really like the rider’s styles, attitudes, art, and company’s ideas and beliefs. I hope to be making a living off my photography, and traveling the world with my bros just shooting and riding.
Awesome! Well thanks for taking the time to “spill your guts”.
Thank you! LOVE You ALL!