interview | Blotto Photto

BLOTTO PHOTTO. A name, which most of you did hear or read probably more than once in snowboarding. The man behind that term, is no one else than the “Principal Photographer“ of the big name player Burton Snowboards. Dean Blotto Gray enriches the world of snowboarding with his work -which goes beyond pure documentation- more than a decade now, delivering unique photos and influecing the perception of the sport for many people. We talked to the man behind the Burton lense and wanted to know more about his person, his personal perception of snowboarding photography, basment parties and the new Burton film.

interview | Blotto Photto (Dean Blotto Gray)

ShredOn Mag: Hey Dean, how are you?

Blotto: I’m fine, just finished up another great winter season traveling with the Burton Team. For the past seven months (Deciber through June), I followed the film crew around gathering clips for the newest Burton movie production “Standing Sideways“.

ShredOn Mag: Tell us a bit please about your person ..who you are, what you do, what your homebase is right now ..etc.

Blotto: I grew up BMX’ing in Texas, brought that to Arizona, where I found skateboarding and that eventually led to snowboarding. Luckily, you can take part in any of these activities for your entire life, so I still partake in a little bit of each, depending on what Mother Nature is deliverying any given time of year.

interview | Blotto Photto (Dean Blotto Gray)
cam next to pack contrast| thank god Blotto is always well prepared!

With that said, winter is filled with snowboarding; spring, summer and fall keep the feet on the grip tape and pedals. No complaints. My primary focus point is snowboarding seven months a year, so during the five other months I find myself documenting more and more bicycling disciplines over the last few years. It started with bicycles, so to see that come full circle and be photographing bicycles is a dream come true.

Homebase is Burlington, Vermont, also the headquarters of Burton Snowboards. A very liveable city and working over at Burton while I’m home is super cool. That place is packed with great people doing exciting things.

interview | Blotto Photto (Dean Blotto Gray)
wanna know how to turn Official Photographer of the big B? travel 7months a year through the world and get sick shots like this one here at Air & Style in Munich!

ShredOn Mag: Have you always been into photography?, and what is your connection to the sport? Did you always follow snowboarding?

Blotto: Somewhere in 1995/1996 while living in Colorado I picked up a camera. I was working with Ethan Fortier (E-Stone) at Technine and it was decided we should shoot our own photos, build the catalog and create a website, which neither of us had ever

interview | Blotto Photto (Dean Blotto Gray)
Dean Blotto Gray | abstract black white portrait

done before.

I got a Canon EOS 530 and E-Stone picked up a Macintosh G3. From that point on, we shot the team, processed the film, scanned it, designed the pages and had it printed.

My connection to snowboarding started in 1991 while living in Phoenix skateboarding everyday. As winter started to arrive, one of our good friends (Craig Boone) was going on ‚family ski vacation’, which was unheard of within our crew, we didn’t know what snow was! While on vacation, Craig decided to try snowboarding and once he arrived back to Phoenix he told us how fun it was. We took a trip North to Flagstaff, Arizona later that winter and were hooked after the first run.

Within the next year I quit my job, sold my car and moved to Flagstaff so I could snowboard full time. About two years into riding, a ‚film crew’ from Colorado showed up at our local mountain and they asked if I’d like to join thi. I didn’t really understand the concept of filming a snowboarding part or movie, but I said ‚no problem.’ This led to meeting the Technine Crew and moving to Colorado the very next year.

ShredOn Mag: As the Principal Photographer of Burton, you’re in charge of all the team shots. Are you also in charge of other things at the “big B“? Any product involvment, for example the photo packs? As their main photographer, they could get perfect feedback for that.

Blotto: The work load at Burton is heavy, so Jeff Curtes, Adam Moran and I share the Team Photography responsibilities. It could never be handled by one person alone, so having the opportunity to work side by side with Adam and Jeff is all time! These are some focused individuals with amazing work ethic and a great sense of humor.

About ten years ago, Jeff sat down with the product crew and designed the first F-Stop Camera Bag. Besides a few modifications to fabric and pockets, that bag is basically unchanged to this day. Burton currently offers a variety of camera specific bags, but I find the F-Stop to be the gi that houses all of my cameras, lenses and flashes.

interview | Blotto Photto (Dean Blotto Gray)
the real „big B“

ShredOn Mag: After throwing out their 2009 flick, Burton didn’t release a film in 2010. You just finished with the team the production of the new Burton film Standing Sideways. What’s the idea behind the title? Is there a certain concept? What can we expect, after having watched the B-movie?

Blotto: Standing Sideways could be labeled a ‚part movie,’ a good old fashioned shred flick with rider sections featuring their best footy stacked up to inspire you to ride. As far as the title Standing Sideways is concerned, it will coincide with the advertisients, catalog and graphics package.

As far as a specific ‚concept,’ I’m willing to say it’s a ‚part movie’ as stated above. Even though I’m with the team every single day shooting photos while they’re filming for the movie, I’m far rioved from the ‚movie business.’ Photography, editing, travel, a website and eating healthy consumes every bit of the day for me, so it’s impossible to be a part of the editing process. I do my part 100% of the time while ‚on location’ so that’s my contribution to ‚stacking footy.’

interview | Blotto Photto (Dean Blotto Gray)
Blotto filming Jorge in Italy

ShredOn Mag: Working as the principal photographer for Burton, is certainly related to a lot of pressure, ain’t it? How did this “job“ develop, to the point where you are now?

Blotto: From 1999 – 2003 I was the Burton Road Manager; traveling with the team to contests, film shoots and promotional tours. During these days I always had a still camera and video camera with me, shooting when and where I could, learning along the way. Once 2003 came along and Burton asked if I wanted to be Principle Photographer, my duty with the camera went from ‚shoot whenever you can and submit it’ to ‚now you’re responsible for a shot list.’ Part time shooter to commercial photographer, drastic change.

With that comes a certain pressure because lots of people are dependant on your photography and delivering what they need to keep the marketing machine moving forward. At the same time, Burton is very good at letting their employees do what they’re good at, so they encouraged me to shoot my style and not try to be someone else or somebody else’s style. That attitude from your iployer ipowers you to find good shots, shoot thi and have fun doing it.

interview | Blotto Photto (Dean Blotto Gray)
Road Tripping with UnInc Crew in Australia, photo: Chris Boadle

ShredOn Mag: You’re most of the time travelling with the team all around the world. What about private life?

Blotto: It’s no probli balancing work and private life. As I stated above, Burton has very good people working for thi and I couldn’t say enough good things about the company, it’s iployees and the Team Department. Also, every rider knows the importance of ‚days off’ and ‚recharging’ so it’s a similar attitude across the board that‚ you gotta do what you gotta do’ to keep the stoke high.

ShredOn Mag: Let’s switch a bit more to your person: Someone told me, that I should ask you about “Basment Jams“. Rumours say that you’re all hooked up with turntables and oldschool stereos.

Blotto: Yea man, Jamz is our local ‚cool out spot’ for anytime of day when you wanna play some records or just kick it and watch some futbol or baseball. By no means are we cuttin’ or stratchin’ because I’m no DJ, that’s for sure!! We just happen to have a lot of Dj friends, so they’ve been selling off all their vinyl records, and we gladly snatch thi up. No Serato in Jamz, only two turntables, a mixer from 1994, Stretch and Bob tapes and a mic. I’m located in a quiet family oreinted neighborhood, so it’s nice to have a basient so you ‚act a fool’ and not bother anybody on the block.

interview | Blotto Photto (Dean Blotto Gray)
filming with Nicolas Müller | random shot!

ShredOn Mag: Sick! Do you have personal goals in this game? At Burton, there’s probably no worries about pay-checks and climbing higher that “ladder“ is quite difficult, or not? Do you have any further plannings, a “personal master plan“ or something, to fullfil a particular dream in your life as a photographer? Or maybe change the actual field and go over to skateboarding? Shooting on the streets is certainly more comfortable, than waiting on Alpine terrain, for clouds to vanish and having the thought of a possible avalanche coming down in your mind, hu? I’ve been also told that you’re passioned with bikes.

interview | Blotto Photto (Dean Blotto Gray)
in Utah you can find much urban spots as there is sand on a beach! perfect location for Blotto to take a shot.

Blotto: I think I’ve found a craft that will be part of my life forever, so I’ll be shooting snowboarding as long as I enjoy it. From there, I may find other subjects of interest and keep moving forward. Would I shoot skateboarding? For sure that would be awesome, but I doubt it will happen. Yes, I started out skateboarding before snowboarding, and I still skateboard, so I don’t feel like an intruder, but being so far rioved from the industry of skateboarding it’s not something I would be comfortable with right now.

Shooting in the alpine always has the inherit risk of avalanche, it comes with the territory. You ‚can’ move safely about the mountains, but you gotta have endless respect for Mother Nature, and of course solid avy training and good guides. Photographing the streets is just as challenging as the alpine because you’re basically trespassing at every spot, so accepting the ‚kick out factor’ is something you have to deal with. Documenting either one of these disciplines has it’s highs and lows, comes with the territory, I don’t favor one over the other.


interview | Blotto Photto (Dean Blotto Gray)
when shooting in such terrains, you’re damn right to rather respect Mother Nature!

Bicycles are a great form of transportation, they keep the body in shape and it’s a fun activity with friends and family. One part of my involvient with bikes is finding discarded steel frames and adding a few modern parts to make thi ridable again. It’s a very cost effective way to introduce people to bicycle transportation…the financial aspect is sometimes the hang up to bicycling. The other aspect of two wheels is the photography side. It’s super fun taking pictures of any type of bike on any terrain, and yes, the access to shooting locations is way easier than snowboarding! The photography is just as challenging, so getting bored is out of the question.

interview | Blotto Photto (Dean Blotto Gray)
Parker in Utah.

ShredOn Mag: Andy Wright did recently a clip with Videograss (Open Shutter), talking about the changes in snowboarding photography/filming, it’s development among the development with the sport and the tricks. You’re quite a time in the game now. What is your perception of photography/filming in snowboarding and the sport itself right now? What has changed to the better, did something change to the worse in your opinion? And doesn’t the internet for example, make it even more difficult for a photographer each time?

Blotto: It’s been a fun process watching and taking part in the evolution of snowboarding and snowboard photography. Both have grown leaps and bounds over the past decade. But what hasn’t changed is there has always been riders with good style and photographers taking great images. That riains unchanged and will always be that way.

interview | Blotto Photto (Dean Blotto Gray)
no comment..

The internet has been a blessing and a curse! Creating my own website has allowed me to publish all the behind the scenes photos, the travel and more story telling capabilities on a daily basis…that’s the blessing. The curse is you spend way more time on your computer than in the past!

ShredOn Mag: Okay, that was great Dean. Thanks a lot for taking that time for us man! Any shout-outs, or last words?

Blotto: Big up to all the riders and subjects I point my camera at, Burton for allowing creative freedom and the room to roam and everybody reading this interview and taking part in snowboarding, skateboarding or bicycles.

ShredOn Mag: Cheers Dean, we’re out!


All pictures used, are property of Dean Blotto Gray and taken out of his of his 2011 portfolio on Blotto Photto!



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