Photos

Behind the Image With Miles Holden

published
11.3.22
category
Stories
Behind the Image With Miles Holden
Photos

Behind the Image With Miles Holden

4 mins
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Behind the Image With Miles Holden

4 mins
Behind the Image With Miles Holden
published
11.3.22
category
Stories
Queenstown local and action sports photographer, Miles Holden, is one of the most sought-after photographers in the industry.

Bringing Miles on board for our “powder day” shoot was a special opportunity. A lot needed to align to make this shoot happen, but when it did Miles was able to bring his signature style to the day.

We sat down with Miles after the shoot wrapped to learn about his favorite images and what his goals were going into the shoot.

Behind the Image With Miles Holden
What excites you about these images?  Tell the story of how they came to light…

It's one of those jealousy-inducing photos. You see shots like this and you instantly know that the conditions were pretty amazing. And it's just the whole thing of skiing or riding at speed and pushing that snow up, getting it all up in your face in the turns. There's nothing quite like it. It's an amazing feeling.

This image shows the really good transition and light from the shade through to a bit of a sun pocket. Jess had a fair amount of speed coming into this slope, and I just love that vapor trail behind her. I love how it’s slightly backlit. It's really important to give my images a three-dimensional feel.

I also like that it doesn't reveal the whole of Jess, but it's more about her being in the white room there. Photography-wise, I was shooting with a 100-500mm looking up the slope and this gave me the range to pull back to get more texture from the foreground or zoom in quickly if required. I waited to see what was going to happen with her turn and I like that it shows the conditions of snow even when it is a slightly wider frame.

It was a dream day, and it felt like you could ski forever. It was just a beautiful thing.

Miles Holden

“I love how it’s slightly backlit. It’s really important to give my images a three-dimensional feel.”

Behind the Image With Miles Holden

For me, this image looks like water, and that is what this whole project is all about. In my mind, it almost gives you a feeling that she's bursting out of water. And it's almost like she’s riding a wave.

We found this super textured snow that was actually pretty good to ski, and we just charged into the area. I decided to shoot this moment quite wide to be able to get that texture off of the snow. I love the feel of the snow in the foreground. And that texture is pretty striking. I think it would also look quite cool in black and white.

Behind the Image With Miles Holden

If I could, I would try to shoot images like this all day. I love how the sun is just sort of cusping that rock and how things sparkle in the foreground.

I set up this image so Jess would rip a big turn, but be close to the shadow that's created by the rock on the top of the ridge. We had really nice sparkly snow with super cold conditions in the shady parts. I love how she sits in that pocket of light.

What were your goals and hopes from this shoot?

I hoped we would have a big snowfall, and time to give Jess the opportunity to ski in great conditions. You never know what you're going to get in New Zealand as it can change drastically from one day to the next.

I wanted to do the Kiwi mountains justice and capture good action photos that showed off Jess’ skiing. Jess is quite an aggressive skier. It's important to be able to show that in the stills. I really wanted to shoot some of the snow that had landed and had a lot of beautiful texture on it. You really can see how it looks similar to water in many ways.

This shoot was intense with a lot to achieve in a short amount of time, and Jess was operating at a very high level. When you’re documenting an athlete at that level, what are you looking for so you can make sure you capture that story?

I was really mindful of trying to capture textures, great light, and big roosters coming up from behind her. We ended up finding an area that had some beautiful light and we left Jess to ski it the way that she wanted. Sometimes, when you are operating in alpine conditions, you can’t always do exactly what you want, and it’s not that you’re settling for second best, it’s that you’re restricted by where you can go, how far the skier can go, and how you can frame it. However, we definitely made the most of what we had.

Miles Holden

“This image looks like water, and it almost gives you a feeling that she's bursting out of water- like she’s riding a wave.”

Behind the Image With Miles Holden

“Flow is a state where nothing else matters around you and you're in a natural way of thinking and moving. Time sort of slows down.”

What does ‘flow’ mean to you? What does it feel like to be in a state of flow for you?

Flow is a state where nothing else matters around you and you're in a natural way of thinking and moving. Time sort of slows down. That just happens through reaction and experience. There's nothing that can stop you when you are in a flow state.

It’s when I’m on a roll and things just happen naturally and occur for no particular reason apart from that's why you're there and that's why you're doing it. That's why you love what you do because of the flow state.

And for some reason, there's a lot of satisfaction, going into and coming out of that flow state. It’s that moment when you are engulfed in what you're doing and it just happens and you look back on it and go, “Wow, I can't believe I just did that.”

Miles Holden

“I wanted to do the Kiwi mountains justice, and Jess is quite an aggressive skier. It's important to be able to show both in the stills.”

Behind the Image With Miles Holden
Behind the Image With Miles Holden
How are you connected to the mountains? Describe your relationship with the mountains.

I haven't always been connected to the mountains. I didn't grow up around mountains, but now I live in a valley surrounded by them. There's something magical about the silence of being in the mountains. There's a certain pace to being in the mountains, and spending time in them, sort of cleans your soul, fills your cup, so to speak. It gives you energy that you can't really get anywhere else.

Photography is a unique way to make a living… why have you chosen to be a photographer? What has photography taught you? Why do you love photography?

Photography has taught me to be patient (I’m not a hugely patient person) but timing is everything with photography, especially for light, seasonal conditions, whatever it may be. When I was around 10, my grandmother told me to always have the sun on my back when I shot a photo, so I now chose the opposite; I really like looking into the sun.

Photography is a really unique way to make a living.  I really enjoy the discipline of photography and the camaraderie of going out with an athlete with the common goal of trying to capture a person really in their landscape.

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