Silvano Zeiter is a young yet uber talented photographer out of Switzerland who we think is taking some of the best photos in snowboarding. His use of light and the outdoor elements is reminescent of surf photographer Chris Burkard. Only being behind the lense for about 7 years, in 2010 Silvano bagged Red Bull’s Illume award (photo below) for ‘New Creativity’ and has had shots published in almost every major snow and skate magazines. In addition to his outstanding photos, Silvano shares some insights and experience in the following interview:
Tell us a little about your childhood. Where’d you grow up and how’d you get into snowboarding?
I was born in Switzerland in 1990 and I grew up in a small village right in the middle of the Swiss Alps. The tram to the mountain is about 5 minutes from my door so like everybody else growing up there, I started skiing before I could even walk decently. Actually, I’m still a skiing today but I just got my first snowboard and I enjoy it as well. However, there are not many things in the world that make me happier than riding neckdeep powder.
What about photography? What’s your background in the trade?
As a kid I was already fascinated by looking through my mom’s analog camera and playing with the depth of focus. At the age of about 15, I took my first photos and one day I had the opportunity to join a crew, who were lodging at our place, on a road gap shoot on the Simplon Pass. The pro-photographer lent me his Canon 1D and immediately I was so stoked that I decided I wanted to do this professionally some day. I bought my first DSLR and started taking photos of my snowboarding friends and in May 2008 I had my first shot published.
Which elements do you look for when shooting? Do you prefer a certain time of day or place to shoot?
I really like backlight so I prefer shooting in the afternoon or early morning when the sun is deep. But I think every daylight has it’s benefits, it’s just up to the photographer to make the best of it. Same thing for the snow conditions. Of course it’s awesome to shoot in fresh powder but condition changes by winds or different temperatures can create beautiful structures on the surface. Shooting in the woods or urban stuff at night while it’s dumping heavily is sick too except that the equipment has to suffer a little.
Can you talk a little about your blog, silvanozeiter.blogspot.com?
To be honest, I started a blog because everybody did it and at the beginning I wasn’t really updating it a lot. But then I realized that it’s a good opportunity to show the people that kind of photos that probably wouldn’t make it into a magazine and stay untouched on my hard drive forever instead. So most of my work on the blog are photos I think they’re worth to be seen. Lifestyle, portraits, landscapes and a little action from time to time. Some are classic, some are arty and others are just funny. In addition, the blog gives the people kind of an idea of what we’re doing because most of the people have no idea what’s all behind those action shots they see in magazines. At first I was kind of bummed that I couldn’t show those action shots too but now I often prefer the photos that tell the story behind it.
What keeps you motivated to keep getting behind the lens?
As cheesy as it may sound but it’s definitely passion. Photography allows me to create a certain reality and I’m the one to control it and decide in which direction this reality is heading to. And that counts for every photographer from the pro-photographer to the iPhone-Hipstomatic-Dude.
On the other hand it’s the never ending process of learning and development that keeps getting me behind the lens. The curiosity to find out what’s possible and how to progress your work.
Have you tried your hand at any surf photography? Is that something you are interested in?
Actually when I started taking photos it was my aspiration to become a surf-photographer and joining crews around the world one day. I’ve read a lot of surf magazines and watched many films and I just love it. As I started surfing myself I imagined that a surfphotographer has to be good at eating shit so I think it’s tough. But I’ve also eaten some shit on the mountain so yes, I’d still be totally stoked to get the chance to join a surf crew some time.
Your photos are extremely beautiful and inspiring- what equipment allows you to capture these elements so vividly in your work?
Oh, thank you very much! I mainly use a Canon 5D Mark II with some zoom lenses of the Canon L-Series and a Sigma fisheye. As a second camera I have a 40D that I only use for sequences. In addition to that I have a Profoto Battery flash and some Canon Speedlites I use for night shoots and portraits. For snap shots I love my new Fujifilm Finepix x100. Obviously I’m all digital but I’d be really interested in taking photos on film but I haven’t found the time yet to set up a decent darkroom. But I will.
Aside from snowboarding and photography, what has been getting you stoked lately?
Surfing has definitely become one of my beloved passions. I pretty much suck at it but maybe that’s why I like it so much. Nobody gives a shit about how good or bad you are it’s all about the fun of just doing it. Besides I really enjoy playing the guitar and listening to a lot of different kinds of music.
Where do you see yourself in a couple years time?
I’ll definitely try to keep gathering as much experience as possible by traveling the world and doing different assistant jobs and some free work to set up a studio here in Europe or maybe work in the Sates for some time. Who knows. But I’m sure wherever I’m gonna be I’ll be having fun.
Be sure to check out Silvano’s website at http://www.silvanozeiter.com