An Interview with broncolor Featured Photograper Chris O’Connell

o How did you become a photographer? Describe your career development?

I have been into shooting photos since I was 12 years old, my dad was really into it on an amateur level and gave me his old Mamiya Sekor and I started shooting my friends skateboarding. I didn’t really think I could make a living at it, so I went to Business School and majored in Computer Information Systems. I moved to Colorado after school and ended up shooting my friends doing cool stuff: Ice Climbing, Rock Climbing, Kayaking, Skiing, Snowboarding, etc. I then got a job with the local newspaper, the Vail Daily, that was my first full time photo job. After that things in the editorial world started rolling and within a year or two, the commercial clients starting coming because they liked my work in the Magazines.

o More specifically, was there one or more life changing moments that helped you move to the next level and become the photographer that you are now? Perhaps a big break, a perfect mentor, a movie, a mystical moment?

I have always worked really hard on the business end of things, delivering on time, providing logistical support and whatever else I can do to make my clients life easier. I think that was how I got my break in editorial work in the early years, was because I took it upon myself to write articles as well, which saved all the magazines money, because they could send one person on a trip instead of two. That led to my first Staff position of Senior Photographer at Snowboarder Magazine in the late 90s.

o How do you learn your techniques?

I am a firm believer in learning by doing, being out in the field and pushing it and learning by trial and error. That cost me a lot of money in film back in the day, but now with digital it doesn’t get any easier. I have taken some workshops over the years to learn more about the processing elements. I recommend D-65 to everyone.

Chris OConnell Shoots the First 1/500th Shutter Wireless Synced Flash Sequence Morph Photo from b film on Vimeo.

o Who are your photo heroes? Or who has inspired your career?

I’ve always been into Sante D’Orazio, I think it was that shot of Stephanie Seymour back in the day. I like Cartier-Bresson, Steven Klein and anyone who shoots action or snowsports. People who inspired my career are the people that listened to me and took time out to give me advice as I was developing, guys like Peter Freed, Jack Affleck, TR Youngstrom and Kevin Zacher.
I like anything with a vagabound type looseness to it, that’s kinda my style, I like a lot of the photography in Vice Magazine.

o What is the worst part about doing what you do?

Avalanches are a huge factor when I am shooting snow, I have had quite few friends lost in accidents and avalanches. It weighs on me a lot when conditions are bad in areas I am in, I spent a month in Interior British Columbia during their worst avalanche cycle ever this year and had a couple close calls, it was a relief to get on the plane home.

The travel can be tough, not necessarily the act of traveling, but the ‘bag wrestling’ as we jokingly refer to it. On any given trip, I have three to four 70lb bags/boxes checked and some seriously heavy carry on. It’s more than one person can handle, so that can be tough, especially if I am traveling without an assistant. I am a location specialist and must pack everything I need, as many locations I go to don’t have the support of a big photo house anywhere near by, so backup gear is a must.

I should also say that the act of packing all that gear really sucks.

o What is the best part?

The Travel. I have seen the so much in the world. I have been to Lebanon, Japan, Indonesia, China, New Zealand, Alaska, Chile, and all over Europe. I am always going somewhere new, whether it’s here in North America or abroad, it’s rare I don’t go to at least a few new countries every year. The people I have met over the years and experiences I have had are priceless.

· Learning from the Pro

o What are we going to shoot today?

The first ever 1/500th Shutter Speed Remote Synced Flash Sequence Morph

o How did you learn how to do what you are about to show us?

I got the idea from my friend Chase Jarvis, he was in New Zealand when I was there shooting this type of sequence, he was running a tethered sync and shooting at 250th. The wheels started turning and I decided that I wanted to try taking that idea to the next level.

o What tools are you using to make this image?

Broncolor Scoro A4S and A2S, Canon Mark IV, Zeiss and Canon Lenses, Pocket Wizard TT5, Honda EU series generators

o Why did you choose these tools?

These were the only tools I could use to do something like this.

o What features of the equipment that you use make it easier to do your job?

The Scoro packs allowed me to monitor my flash duration on the digital readout and they recycle fast enough to shoot a 24 frame sequence at 8fps. The TT5 Wizards allowed me to sync at 1/500th wirelessly with their new hypersync settings which are adjustable by plugging into your laptop.

o Did you use competing products in the past? What made you change?

I have shot Elinchrom and Profoto in the past. The Scoro packs are super adjustable, user friendly and produce great light with banger recycle speeds and solid flash durations.