The tag line for the annual Deep Summer photography competition is "Six photographers, three days and one epic slide show event." That sums Deep Summer up quite well. Deep Summer is a bit like the photography world’s version of a Super Smackdown Cage Match for people who deal in F-stops and white balance. True, it’s not as if veteran grappler Scott Markewitz was ever going to get newcomer Duncan Philpott in a rear naked choke and make him submit, but at the end of the night, only one photographer would walk away from the Deep Summer Challenge the winner.
See? Smackdown. Boom.
Six photographers took their teams out on Saturday August 10th for three days of shooting. In the past, photographers were restricted to shooting at the Whistler Bike Park. This year, the rules relaxed and the teams were given the opportunity to capture footage in Squamish and Pemberton as well.
All that came to a stop, however, at day's end on Tuesday. From that point on, each photographer had 24 hours to edit their thousands of photos into the best possible slideshow presentation possible. The whole thing came to a head tonight (Wednesday) as an attentive Crankworx attendees gathered at Whistler Olympic Plaza to watch the slideshows.
A panel of six judges decides the eventual winner. What were they looking for?
Photographer, Dan Barham, is imminently qualified to weigh in at this point in the narrative, having been both a Deep Summer contestant and judge. This year will mark his second turn as an arbiter of cool. We spoke to Barham a few hours before the show began.
"The hardest part of being a contestant," says Barham, "is coming up with something original. This thing has been going on for six years now and I think, to be honest, it got a little stale in the past. I'm hoping that this year will be different. Last year's entries were great—Reuben's show was excellent—but I felt we'd seen some of the images before and that's through no fault of the photographers, really. It was simply because the rules are so tight and constraining. The bike park is great, but there are only so many ways you can show it after a while. It felt like we had three basic templates for the shows: you could do the leaf and nature one, the family and kids one, or you could do the funny one—that was it: three options. I like the idea that they spread the shooting to Squamish and Pemberton this year. I also want to see a bit of storytelling as well. I think we've all seen a guy rip down a mountain and do a cool jump. I want to see a story. So, hopefully someone puts that together."
Bike Magazine Photo Editor, David Reddick, was also a judge in this year's show. What was he hoping to see? "It'd be great to see someone put a story together and really say something with their collection of images. You know, create some sort of emotional response and truly say something about the sport in the process. That's what I'm hoping for."
Though the very word "slideshow" conjures up visions of tedious evenings spent watching footage from the family vacation to the Biggest Ball of Cheese, boredom was not on the menu tonight. Deep Summer always plays to a rapt crowd. That was particularly true this time around as the competition seemed particularly heated.
In the end, however, there could be only one. Nicolas Teichrob took the win (check out his slideshow above), followed by Garret Grove in second place and Harookz in third.
"I'm stoked to have won," says Teichrob after the show had ended, he'd collected his 6-foot long $5,000 victor's check and had retired for what promised to be a very long night of malted beverages and high-fives in the Whistler Village. "After seeing all the shows tonight, I think the quality is higher than it's ever been. I think everyone had to think super hard to come at this competition from a new and creative angle."
Did opening the competition up beyond the confines of the Whistler bike park help in that respect?
"Shooting outside the park definitely allowed us to shoot more alpine stuff," says Teichrob, "It definitely helped us expand."
Would he be in favor, then, of opening the competition up further? How about giving photographers the chance to shoot the entire Sea-to-Sky corridor?
"I don't know," says Teichrob. "If you look at the origin of these events, starting with Deep Winter, you had to shoot in-bounds, at Whistler Blackcomb, during operating hours. That restriction forces you to be super creative to compete because everyone is on the exact same playing field. I kind of like that. Now that the palette is broader for Deep Summer, well it obviously worked for us, but if you broaden it further still, you might not think too far outside the box to set yourself apart from the competition, you might just go to a new location."
And Teichrob's advice for future contestants hoping to win it all?
"With these events, you just have to roll with the punches—you've only got three days so whatever happens, happens. The light turns gray, for instance, so you go into the forest and you might spend six hours shooting that and only get one usable shot, but you just have to keep plugging. The clock is ticking. You also have to be opportunistic and ready—your equipment and crew have to be dialed so that when those opportunities do finally come to you, you're there and ready to take advantage of them."