Ian Collins has been in Brandon Semenuk's inner circle for years, shooting stills for some the slopestyle star's highest-profile projects, but Collins still considers Semenuk to be somewhat of a mystery.
Semenuk is famously meticulous with his planning, breaking down each course by feature, trick or ticks on the clock. But, he keeps most of his thoughts in his head, or jots them in his ever-present black notebook.
Collins sometimes doesn't yet know the full extent of Semenuk's mental mastery until they've been at a site for days, as was the case while building and shooting Semenuk's fourth Raw 100 this past spring in northern California.
"We have to pry it out sometimes … and sometimes if we do have to drag it out of him, it's like, 'Oh god, this is going to be gnarly,'" Collins says. "He knows everything he wants to do, and he's thinking in terms of seconds."
On the first day of the shoot, as they were scouting the 500-acre private property that would later become Semenuk's dirt canvas, Collins noticed Semenuk's hip camera and notebook on the car dashboard as they drove up a dirt road. The notebook detailed precisely how he intended to spend each of the edit's 100 seconds; it was a perfect revelation of how he operates, as an artist, a diligent worker and the most progressive rider on the planet.
"I always knew he'd been thinking this way, but seeing this tangible artifact was proof of it."