AJ Marino on skis at Heavenly Mountain Resort and wearing his Mountainsmith Borealis AT and Descent AT photo bags
After a long day of filming with my Mountainsmith Borealis and Descent AT.

With this Tahoe winter all of 30% of past winters, there is not much backcountry skiing and the pow day count is at zero. My friends and I turn our BC setups into skinny park skis and head out to our local Heavenly Mountain Resort. Camera in hand I set out to record the progression that freestyle skiing involves.

It’s not easy work, with friends that just want to ski, setting up for a shot seems impossible. A simple “wait up it’s not recording” is a foreign language to the fast paced skiers. You have to do, what you have to do to get the shot. An average day starts out with packing my Mountainsmith Borealis AT pack with 55 pounds of gear and making the long 15 minute commute to the mountain.

Then getting on the lifts with people who just don’t understand why I have to ride the lift alone because of all gear that I have. Finally after 5 lifts and plenty of leg burning runs, I make it to Ante Up terrain park. No friends in sight, so I just set up a shot until they arrive.

AJ Marino shoots skiers with his video camera on a tripod in meyers. california
While filming an “urban feature” in Meyers, California.

A few tripod shots will establish what I call “lip shots” which basically shows the take off and preparation for the feature that the skier will hit. Then I switch over to my steadicam. Getting some nice follow shots, that will fill in for the tripod shots earlier. The rig all together with counterweights and camera weighs about 10 pounds. Going over the jump knuckles and even going off of the jumps with the rig in hand is no easy task, and sometimes scares the hell out of me when i’m off axis with about $3,000 in my hand.

We then head down for lunch, which consists of free saltine crackers and 2 oz. water cups Vail so kindly provides. After lunch we continue filming until we get most of the shots I hoped for. I head back home and dump 32gb of footage on to my hard drive to continue to editing. It takes about three to five days of filming to reach a fair amount of footage to start the editing process. This is the point where no one will see you for several days. Taking all of the footage from the previous week and converting it into an pleasing end-product. At the end of it all and with all of the sacrifices my friends and I made, I wouldn’t change it for anything else. I want to continue to progress as a filmmaker and photographer, without my parents, friends, and Mountainsmith I wouldn’t even be as close to where I  am today.

Thank you,

AJ Marino

Photographer/Cinematographer, South Lake Tahoe, California

ajmarinophoto.com | Vimeo.com/ajmarino

Check out my most recent ski video “March Madness”

“Don’t Do Art”

“The Drought”


One comment

  1. Your friends have some solid moves! I would work on technique, focusing on adjusting lighting more precisely and getting some different, especially wider perspectives. You shoot into the sun a lot which destroys your contrast and increases graininess. Keep up the good work though man, maybe throw some bodycam(gopros) into the mix for different perspectives.

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