Sports photographers exhibit at Beaver Creek and Vail gallery this week
BEAVER CREEK and VAIL — Life gives us all plenty of challenging situations. By transforming obstacles into opportunities, we may find strength and abilities we were not even aware we had.
That is the common denominator shared by sports photographers Nathan Bilow and Jonathan Selkowitz. Their ability to rise to the occasion has enabled them to develop superior skills in their field of sports photography.
Bilow was 5 years old when his mother suddenly died. His aunt gave him a small camera so that the child’s focus on his new “toy” would be greater than his questioning of mortality. Bilow, a precocious and curious child, started pointing and shooting images. With time, the subjects for those images grew “from babes to bombs; from Japan to Jerusalem …” he proudly declares. Bilow has traveled the world following the U.S. Ski Team from Portillo to Sochi, and now, for the 2015 Alpine World Ski Championships, to Beaver Creek. The Crested Butte-based photographer has an extensive 30-year career shooting powerful, graceful images of sports celebrities. He has three published books and has worked extensively for ESPN Sports, USA Today and The Associated Press.
“Telling stories through photography is my goal,” Bilow said, “I am a visual storyteller. One image will tell an entire story: courage, determination, technical skill. There’s a whole world in a single, powerful, action-filled photo — the determined grin on the athlete’s faces, their bodies moving elegantly and efficiently through space. Each image is a tale of an athlete’s commitment and determination; reaching for nothing less than victory.”
FROM SKIING TO PHOTOGRAPHING
Similarly, Selkowitz, of Teton Valley, Idaho, was able to transform his recovery from a torn ACL into a photography career. At that time, Selkowitz was working as a race coach with the Jackson Hole Ski Club and as an instructor for the legendary Pepi Stiegler ski school. Selkowitz’s plan at the outset of the winter of 1993 was to leave Jackson Hole in the spring to study environmental science, so he chose a local introductory photo class as an academic warm up. One of the photography teachers was looking for a new assistant, so Selkowitz jumped on the opportunity, since a slalom crash ended his ski season in January. That part-time commercial photo assistant job turned into a four-year apprenticeship. Selkowitz quickly discovered that composing and capturing images is as thrilling as arcing turns and skiing powder.
Creating visual motion in still images became Selkowitz’s calling, whether making portraits, action images or abstract scenic. Although fashion photography first caught his attention, World Cup ski racing lured him to Park City, Aspen, Vail and Beaver Creek whenever the White Circus came to the Rockies. Photographing these races for the Jackson newspaper provided Selkowitz with on-hill access and the chance to learn from veteran U.S. Ski Team photographers such as Bilow and Lori Adamski Peek, as well as other agency shooters. These experiences and connections garnered the opportunity to cover the Nagano Olympics, which in turn led to years of working with the U.S. Ski Team as their official photographer, as well as a freelancer. This ski photography path has taken Selkowitz around the world, from Japan to Morocco, throughout Europe, as well as all over North and South America. Along the way he has been rewarded with many wonderful friendships and lessons. Selkowitz transformed from trying to teach the perfect turn to striving to illustrate the perfect turn. In 2012, the Federation of International Skiing honored Selkowitz with the Journalist of the Year award.
Similarly to the athletes they portray, both Bilow and Selkowitz have developed the skills, courage, focus and determination to become the best they can be in their photographic careers.
Both photographers will present their action photos in a joint show at the Carrie Fell Gallery on Wednesday from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. and at the Horton Fine Art Gallery in Beaver Creek on Thursday from 4 to 5 p.m.
For more information, visit hortonfine art.com or call 970-949-1660; or visit carriefellgallery.com or call 970-476-4117.