Photographer Insight Interview: Scott Rinckenberger
PHOTOGRAPHER INSIGHT INTERVIEW: SCOTT RINCKENBERGER
Photographer Insight is an ongoing series where evo takes you behind the scenes with some of the best photographers in the action sports industry. This time, we catch up with friend of evo, Scott Rinckenberger, to ask him about his experience as a photographer.
By Daniel Silverberg, Seattle WA: Starting out with a career in front of the lens as a professional skier, Scott became accustomed to working with photographers on ad campaigns for brands like Nissan, Volvo, Avis, and REI. One of those photographers was fellow Seattleite Chase Jarvis, who took Scott under his wing as a photo assistant. As Chase’s profile grew internationally, Scott grew into the role as Chase’s right-hand-man. Many years later, Scott struck out independently and now works behind the lens full-time as a fine art, editorial, and commercial photographer.
Scott also dedicates a lot of his work to charity. Most recently, Scott has been working on Photos for the Philippines, an art show and charity fundraiser benefiting the Philippine Red Cross in their ongoing efforts to rebuild after the devastation of Typhoon Haiyan. Scott is selling large and small prints, and donating all profits to the relief efforts. Check out Scott’s beautiful imagery of the Philippines at www.photosforthephilippines.com.
– How did you get started in photography?
Although I took a photography class in high school that taught me the nuts and bolts of shooting and developing, it wasn’t until I was in college and skiing semi-professionally that I really took a great deal of interest in photography. I was being photographed regularly for magazines and sponsorship and I began to sponge information and techniques from the great photographers with whom I was collaborating with as an athlete. From there, it was an organic trajectory from skier to apprentice to professional photographer.
– Where, what, or who do you find inspiration from?
My primary inspiration has always been the natural world. While skiing, biking, climbing, surfing, etc. have provided me with endless hours of entertainment, the greatest payoff from my participation in these activities has been the access they grant to the outdoors. Photography has provided me with a tool by which to capture, re-imagine, and share my view of the landscapes and sensations I am blessed to experience in the great outdoors.
– What are your goals with your photography? Where’s your photography headed?
My ongoing goal is to bring an original and refined visual voice to the photographic landscape. I want to continue to balance my commercial work with fine art projects that look at landscape and adventure photography in a different light than is generally seen. I also seek to share work and information that inspires people to find adventure, to explore the world, and to create art in whatever way fuels their creativity.
– What’s in your camera bag? What piece of equipment could you not live without?
I have a number of different camera bags that I use in a very modular capacity. This allows me to pack gear in a way that is very tailored to each project. I generally use bags and backpacks designed for outdoor sports, and integrate camera carrying systems to fit the gig. But any way you slice it, I don’t generally leave home without my Olympus EM1. It’s a bombproof small camera with amazing capabilities that can only be outgunned by cameras four times its size and weight. I have a whole system of bodies and lenses built around that platform, as well as aNikon kit consisting of a D4s and D610 body, and 14-24, 24-70 and 70-200 Nikon glass, not to mention some Medium Format film equipment.
– Do you have any tips about how to plan and execute an action shot?
Pre-visualize and communicate. This is where my experience on both sides of the lens has become priceless. You need to let your subject know exactly what you’re trying to accomplish and what they need to make happen in order for the vision to become reality. You also need to be super open to feedback from your subject, as they are taking the risks. Any action shot is collaborative so make sure you take the time to find a scenario that works for the artist and the athlete. Once you’ve got the setup wired, shoot like crazy.
– Do you shoot video in addition to stills? If so, how do you manage shooting stills and motion on the same shoot?
I do shoot video as well as still photography, although stills are my preferred medium. In terms of executing both on the same shoot, it comes down to the goals for the project. Both mediums require a deep level of commitment to do well, and one really has to be prioritized over the other on any given shoot. If a client wants great stills and some behind the scenes video, I’ll focus on the stills and roll a video camera on a tripod, or catch b-roll between still shots. But if video is the primary deliverable, the gears shift and I focus on video shots with interesting camera movements and multiple angles.
– Any challenges, bloopers, or low points you’d like to share?
I try not to be in the blooper game, and I’m an eternal optimist, so I don’t have much to offer in the way of low points. I have challenges galore but they are what keep things interesting. Time tends to be the ever present challenge. I have so many ideas, projects and stories that I’d like to execute and share, and at the same time I need to shoot a lot of stuff that pays the bills and keep some work-life balance. It’s non-stop plate spinning, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
– What have you been focused on recently?
Fun commercial projects for folks like evo and REI, super large prints for commercial and private clients, and a new fine-art project to shoot beautiful black and white images of avalanches in motion.
– What do you do for fun when you’re not making photographs?
I’m always finding an excuse to play outside and travel, whether for work or fun. If I’m not doing that, I’m generally spending some quality time with my wife and friends in Seattle. I’m also perfectly content to spend hours at home reading, playing music, or just recharging the batteries so I can do it all over again.
– If you could give one piece of advice to yourself five years ago, what would it be?
Stay the course, you’re gonna dig it.
Also, evo hosted a gallery for Scott in Seattle last year. Check it out>