Photographer spotlight – Aaron Gotthardt from Alaska

Alaskan photographer Aaron Gotthardt is killing it up in Alaska shooting for Black Ops Valdez while also shooting photos of the epic event, Tailgate Alaska.

Here’s Aaron’s bio: Aaron Gotthardt is a dirtbag photographer and snowboard junkie from Valdez, Alaska. He has had a camera in his hands for the last 27 years and a snowboard under foot just as long. Photography mixed with his love of snowboarding, have given him the chance to travel extensively, shoot amazing places and incredible people. He is currently working on wrapping up shoots in Alaska before moving on to Europe.

Aaron Gotthardt interview:

S.N. – How long have you been up in AK?

A.G. – Since I was 3 been. I’ve been back and forth a lot though due to my career as a professional hobo

S.N. – What’s the craziest thing you’ve seen go down in AK?

A.G. – You wouldn’t believe me if I told you seriously… Bear charges are pretty scary. I saw Shin Biyajima do one of the largest methods I have ever seen last year off a 50+ foot cliff face just on a whim. Pretty rad, stomped it clean and I got a good shot. Lot’s of crazy stuff goes down here in the last frontier, so it’s hard to pinpoint.

S.N. – What got you into photography?

A.G. – My dad was always shooting wildlife and I was stoked on it, so in the 3rd grade I swiped his Nikon FE and tried to shoot photos of kids playing football at recess. It was like -15º below out and the camera froze up and wouldn’t advance because it was the end of the roll and I thought I broke it. I was terrified, worried sick thinking I destroyed it. My dad came home and I thought my ass was grass, but he just said ask before I take his stuff next time and if I wanted to learn to shoot he would teach me. His camera became mine after that and I have been shooting ever since

S.N. – What kind of gear do you shoot with?

A.G. – Canon platform, slingshot

S.N. – Have you ever seen any crazy wildlife while strapped in to your snowboard?

A.G. – Lot’s here in AK. Lynx, Caribou, Moose, Ptarmigan, eagles, wolverine, a couple wolves once and I have seen a few bear late season riding and Tailgaters.

S.N. – Since Alaska is about as Northwest as you can get, what does snowboarding in the Northwest mean to you?

A.G. – It means diversity in your riding skill set and being able to shred most anything. It’s not all pow and blue like a lot of people think it is all the time but when it is, it’s all time. It means work, besides Alyeska and a couple tiny hills you have to earn your turns here and kick the ol’ Chevrolegs and Lamberfeeties into gear unless you have one of them “Snow scooter mobiles” It’s hard to really say honestly, I am proud to be from here that’s for sure..

S.N. – What tips would you offer for a person looking to come up to shred AK for the first time?

A.G. – Import your own damn women as there aren’t enough here to go around. Don’t be afraid of guns because we all have them, bear spray is just seasoning, don’t ask stupid Alaska questions about polar bears and igloos, we all carry guns… remember! No you will not make money gold mining here, like those knuckleheads on tv claim to.

But seriously study up on Alaska and the areas you are going, call people and ask questions, also watch the weather and snow reports. Make sure your Avy skills are honed and have the proper gear. Study your snow science and learn to read the mountains. There’s nothing worse than having people who put their own lives in danger, as well as others.

Be prepared and plan and just a heads up things here can get pretty expensive, it’s a bummer when you can’t afford to do everything you want.

Bring a camera, your mind will be blown and you will wish you had.

Check out Tailgate Alaska, it’s a great introduction to AK and a great event that happens the beginning of April every year. It brings people from around the world to ride, as Shawn Farmer put it one time, he said “It’s like Burning Man with helicopters and snowmobiles” That’s not the best description but you get the picture. Free avalanche training, sled training, and a great venue for people of all abilities, discounts on heli time. Did I mention free beer!! Also bring a few good books for down days

S.N. – Do you know any funny jokes about Alaskans?

A.G. – You know what you get when you sit on the ice too long? Polaroid’s

S.N. – Any final thoughts you’d like to share?

A.G. – Keep your camera batteries warm.

S.N. – Can you see Russia from your house?

A.G. – I can see Sochi. Sage’s 1620 was sick!

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