Evgeny Pavlov has got to be one of the hardest working photographers in the world of snowboarding right now. He sends us banging shots every week and had a hell of a year in 2017, landing the cover of Method 18.3 with that perfect shot of Cees Wille gapping those two buildings. Insane. If you've read the interview with Cees in the print issue you'll know how much work went into getting that shot, and it sounds like Ponchikz was there every step of the way to make the possibility a reality. If you haven't read it yet, go find a copy.
It goes without saying that Evgeny's photos continue to go from strength to strength, he always has unique compositions and a command of flash lighting that few can emulate. He's currently on the road with the boys shooting for Method Movie 3 and we can't wait to see what he can create. For now, have a read about how he started on this journey and find out more about his favourite shots from last winter. And if you have a minute, check his out his youtube channel. That shit is crazy. Evgeny definitely doesn't have a fear of heights. - William
When did you first pick up a camera and when did you start photographing snowboarders?
Back in the day, I was fully involved in skateboarding, riding every day, learning new tricks, and even took part in some local contests. My friend invited to go to the slopes where I first tried to snowboard on my friend's deck wearing low skate shoes on my feet and I knew that it was something special. You are strapped in, so can pop over a 30 stair set, jump from big airs, do backflips, something that you are not able to do on a skateboard. So, I started riding and progress was super fast because of a skate base. My eyes were “burning” and I tried to spend every opportunity to ride. In March of 2009, there was a contest - Burton AM tour, I think. That was the first cool contest in Saint-Petersberg (the city where I live), with a great new setup. There even was a spot with a jump over the car – never seen in Russian parks before.
My first run was good, but on the second one I overshot one of the big airs and broke my shoulder, so had to wear this special bandage for a month and then a month or something of recovering. But I was full of energy and couldn’t sit in one place. At the same time my girlfriend gifted me my first film camera (a Zenith) and on the next day after the bail, I went to the same resort to take photos of my friends riding. After that, two of my passions – snowboarding and photography - remained in my life. That’s how I started taking photos. It was a great time, I’ve spent nights scrolling the web and reading all the info about composition rules, technical aspects and life hacks. A roll of film costs money, so you don’t want to waste frames. Also, the process from pushing the button to developing and scanning the film is pretty long, so you can’t do the same tests as you can on a digital camera. You have to read, ask, walk, search and wait a lot, prepare yourself and the scene – trying to get a good shot from the first try. I really like the fact that I started learning photography and “grew up” using a film camera. That helps me a lot in action photography – not to miss the moment.
What is your camera setup?
For a long time, I was shooting on my Zenith ET camera. It's an old Russian film camera. Then I bought a Canon EOS 30 - also a 35mm film camera - and my big love, the Bronica SQ. A medium-format film camera.
When shooting on film became insanely expensive I bought a secondhand Canon 7d body, so almost all the photos that you can see are made on this camera. A few people told me that my shots look good because of the super good new camera, which should be super expensive – haha, it’s not always about the top equipment in the world, that’s my only answer.
As for lenses, I have some old Russian “glass” from my Zenith camera, that I put on my Canon via a special adaptor, one tele lens, and a fisheye, of course. I like to play with the light, so use some flashes with radio transmitters.
What sources of photography inspires you? What other sides of photography are you interested in?
I think snowboarding and skateboarding is my best inspiration. As I ride by myself, its easier to see the shot and to find/create a spot for that. Sometimes I see some option on the street and send the photo with the idea of the trick to the rider. Sometimes I hit the spot by myself, set up the light and ask my friends to take a photo of me. I try to get my photos that look different from the others, so always trying to find some special angle. My other interest helps me with that and gives a huge amount of positive emotions, motivation and inspiration.
I’m talking about roof topping. Climbing on the roofs of different buildings and construction sites. From the top, you can see everything, even simple things from a different perspective. That helps to create something abstract, or just to get a really nice view of the cityscape. I’m also making a project named “The Story Of A Shot”, to show the audience the value of the one photo and the hard path for making it happen. You can watch couple videos from the series here.
I like to shoot the urban landscapes from the top, but also like to take my cam while travelling, so it might be a portrait photo of a stranger or a long exposure shot of a beautiful peaceful morning landscape.
Who are your favourite snowboard photographers?
Matt Georges, Frode Sandbech, Ethan Stone, Jussi Grznar, Lorenz Holder.
What do you think will change about snowboard photography in the next few years? What will never change?
I think, because of the new era of hi-tech, soon we will see more “live photos”, a mixture of video and photo. But the great classic black and white photography will never ever disappear.
Who are your favourite riders to shoot photos with?
Firstly I’d like to write my Friends. Local homies and foreign homies from Postland Theory. But you have to understand that I didn’t meet the Postland Crew until recently. In my opinion, it should just be a person who loves what he is doing and whom it’s easy to communicate with - that’s the only secret I think. And, of course, the rider who never says no – even if you would like him to fly in between two buildings. Thank you, Cees Wille!
Have you ever missed a shot? What do you do in that situation?
Of course, we are people, not machines, so it happens. That’s funny because 99% of all my missed shots were caused because of the machines, like some flash that didn’t fire. It usually happens because of empty batteries – because of the cold, so almost every rider understands that. I always worry about that a lot, especially if we're at the spot for a long session, I check and double check everything. Sometimes it's good to ask someone from the crew to stand next to the flash to see the “red light", that means it’s ready to work. Or you can switch the flash on right before the trick if it ran out of power and switched off. All of my pockets are always full of batteries, sometimes it’s just not enough.
How do you stay creative when shooting snowboarding?
Use imagination, change the angle and get inspiration from all around.
What's the best way to stay warm? What do you do when you're waiting for riders?
To chop ice and shovel with the riders. And when the session starts, just stay strong, and dream about a warm sweet home. As for me, I can’t shoot in any gloves or mittens. So sometimes, your fingers feel super frozen and the skin just bursts, like it was in Ruka a few years ago, with 37 degrees below zero. But in the end, everything goes fine in few weeks. I’m still riding and still, it’s hard to make choice what I like more – to take photos or to do a trick.