As a Vermonter, I've known Shem Roose's name for a while...He's a legend in action sports photography, and a big name in our mountain community. Founder Lou Joseph and I were thrilled to meet Shem at The Harvest Market after a day of skiing at Stowe early this winter.
We quickly felt an ease to Shem that we both were drawn to. It was clear that this wasn't his first rodeo, and he was excited to help us capture some beautiful photography using the Green Mountains as our backdrop. We recently wrapped that shoot, and caught up with Shem afterwards to ask him a few questions about his craft, his life in the mountains, and his artistic inspirations.
Alps & Meters: Tell us a bit about your history in the mountains.
Shem Roose: I grew up snowboarding in Southern Vermont. I had never been on a chairlift until my friend and his Dad took me to Magic Mountain. It was a difficult first day, but I was hooked. After Magic shut down, my friends and I started riding at Bromley. Some of my fondest memories are from those days there.
A&M: Any specific motivations that got you into photography?SR:Throughout High School, I was dabbling in photography and documenting my friends skateboarding and snowboarding. In my Senior year I took a photography class and felt inspired by my teacher Mr. Podell. After High School, I shot as much as possible and realized I wanted to be a photographer.
A&M: With so many days logged shooting in the mountains, and trips to every corner of the globe, what’s your best memory of time well spent? Best conditions? Where? SR:There are so many great trips and memories from my time as the Photo Editor and Photographer for Transworld Snowboarding Magazine. I feel so fortunate to have traveled to the countries I’ve been to. I owe a great deal to Jon Foster (former Transworld Photo Editor and Editor in Chief) for giving me the opportunity to work with him. I went to Japan a few years ago with Huffman Studio to film a series titled Snow Craft, about handmade and alternative shapes for riding powder. The terrain, the country, the people and, of course the snow, are burned in my brain. My goal is to go back there in 2016.
A&M: What keeps you busy in the summers in Vermont? SR: I’m usually shooting a variety of personal and commercial jobs. When I’m not working I like to hike with my dog, ride my old Bianchi on dirt roads, and spend time swimming with my family at this beautiful little spot on the Huntington River.
A&M: Out of all of the shots that you’ve taken over the course of your career, does one stand out? SR: I guess there are a few that stand out. One in particular is a photo of my friend diving into the Dorset quarry. It’s a vertical, black and white photo that I shot in 1996. I appreciate the composition and his poise in the air. It looks like he’s going to belly flop, but he’s actually going into a dive. It’s a great moment of a good friend that our crew of friends hold close to us.
A&M: What pushes you to shoot longer and ride harder when you’re tired and your pack is feeling heavy? SR:
Coffee helps. I just like creating new images and know that I’m fortunate to be able to make a living by shooting photos and videos.
A&M: Do you have a “morning of shoot” ritual or habit? I’d imagine there are a lot of early mornings in your field… SR:
Definitely coffee and looking through my bag(s) to make sure I have everything I need. If I’m going into the backcountry, I will try to call my family to check in with them and let them know that I love them.
A&M: What’s it like to see your kids growing up in the mountains? SR: Ha! I think they appreciate it. My wife and I usually have to drag them to our local little ski hill (Bolton Valley), but once they get there they have a good time (as long as it’s not frigid and windy). I just hope they appreciate and participate in being active in the outdoors when they’re older.
A&M: Any characters that stand out from your travels?
SR: I met a guy in Colorado in the 90’s who made his own all wood snowboards called Sawpit. He wore a jacket that he made from a deer that he killed. He also loved riding moguls and I’m pretty sure he rode with headphones all the time.
A&M: What drew you the Green Mountains originally? What keeps you there? SR:
I was drawn to Burlington, VT after High School because Burton Snowboards had just moved up there from Manchester. My good friend Mike LaVecchia was working for Burton and he suggested I apply for a job in Dealer & Rider Services. When I landed the job, I started riding at Stowe and was blown away by how diverse the terrain was. There are so many great things about Vermont. Little things like swimming holes in the Summer, driving backroads and stopping at some country store for a Maple Creemee, the seasons, hiking the Long Trail… I could go on. I appreciate that I can live a pretty simple life and provide for my family.
Check out more of Shem's beautiful work here, and be sure to follow along on instagram as well...
BIG thanks to Shem for making our first winter action shoot a success!