Backcountry Ski Photo Mission in Colorado

Recently I was invited to join photographer Scott DW Smith and pro skier Sven Brunso on a backcountry skiing photo-mission.  I served as a photo/ski model for this shoot, which is a nice change since much of the time I find myself parked behind the camera while everyone else has all the fun.  And yes, it was fun.

We headed up to Red Mountain Pass in the San Juan Mountains of southwest Colorado.  Weather was clear and cold, and there were about ten inches of fresh, fluffy powder.  Scott just got a new camera he wanted to break in, and that combined with new snow led to a very high stoke-level.  Scott, Sven and I have been shooting video and photos in this area for years, so we were able to get right down to business:

As I mentioned before, I’ve filmed with Sven quite a bit.  You can see one of the features I put together about one of his infamous Brett Farve-esque decoy retirements on Inside Durango TV’s website.

I really like the collaborative nature of video production and photography.  It’s always a new challenge to work with photographers, athletes, and mother nature in order to put together an interesting image.  Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.  And sometimes you spend 20 minutes talking about exactly where the photographer wants you to turn, then you clip a tree on your approach and botch the shot anyway…

Below, Scott and Sven discuss the light, the line, and the lens that would ultimately lead to a great photo.

photo shoot in the Colorado Backcountry with John Trousdale

And here’s the photo we came up with:

We got some great photos in the couple hours we lapped this sweet little zone.  Sven came out with more keepers, as usual, but I did OK.  We’ll be seeing some of these photos published for sure; the sign of a successful day.  By this time the light was getting a little bit harsh and most of the visually appealing lines were all tracked out.  Our posse did a quick session on a very frequently photographed little diving board rock before throwing in the towel.  Wouldn’t you know it, the last line of the morning yielded what is possibly my favorite shot so far this season.

John Trousdale backcountry ski model cliff jump

Satisfied with our morning’s work, the rest of the posse took off for Durango, leaving Sven and I atop Red Mountain Pass with tons of terrain, lots of fresh snow, and no adult supervision.  We decided it would be incredibly irresponsible to leave the pass without grabbing at least one more line, so we set our sights on the summit of Red Mountain #3.  Getting to the top was a solid slog, but thankfully there was already a skin track and I had some new tunes on the iPod.  This little jaunt took us a little over an hour from start to finish.  Here’s a shot of our handiwork.  No, not all the lines are ours – our tracks are the sweet ones that bend skier’s left toward the bottom.

Red Mountain pass - a popular backcountry destination

Thanks to Sven Brunso and Scott DW Smith for a great photo session.

You can check out more photos of Sven, all shot by Scott, at

For more videos, or to learn more about Colorado video production services, visit

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