We caught up with Gabe L’Heureux who won the wildcard spot at the WSSF Pro Photographer Showdown coming up on April 14th to get a bit of his backstory and some insight into his show. The photos in this interview are what didn't make Gabe's cut and hit the editing room floor which is a pretty good indicator of how tonight is going to go.
You were a snowboard filmer how did you start shooting photos?
I started by making some videos for Smith and then I joined up with the Neoproto guys and the end of that and then we started the People crew and did that for a bunch of years and then got hired by Burton as a filmer. After the first year and a half I kind of came on as this team management roll for Shaun White. I travelled with him a lot and when that happened is when I started shooting photos full time because I had really good access. The first year was the Vancouver Olympics so it was an exciting time and it was a really good time to be shooting photos and that’s what got me into it. Things changed at Burton, I got more and more opportunities to shoot photos and now I shoot all the campaign stuff and the last couple years I’ve been going on full action trips. So there’s some of that stuff and there’s a lot of stuff around California shooting skate, and back east shooting skate and other fun stuff we’d done on snowboard trips on the side. It’s kind of a collage of fun stuff to look at more than, well I think the other guys will have more monumental imagery. Not to say I won’t but I think my show will fit really well with everyone else’s.
So you said back east, are you from out east? Where are you from?
I’m from Washington DC. I grew up skateboarding and got into snowboarding later, about midway through high school. And then my dad was cool with me going out west for University. So I did that and just kind of met the right people. One thing lead to another and I had some filming jobs right away.
What was the first snowboard project you worked on?
Smithereens, it was like a Smith team video, there was 3 in a row and Cory Smith from Smith took a huge risk on me and let me edit it and the next year he gave me a little money to film. It was a good ride till now that’s for sure.
How did you end up getting into the Showdown?
The Showdown thing, obviously I’ve heard about it for years and years. A lot of my favourite photographers have done it and I actually never really considered doing it. Jaime [Jaime Kerrigan from WSSF] emailed me and said, “Hey do you want to submit to get into this thing?” and I as like yea sure. And I ended up getting picked! So that’s how I got in. So at least I can be confident for getting chosen for that. I actually finished my edit today and I’m pretty stoked on it.
So you did your edit yourself?
I did yea. I mean I have a whole editing background so it was actually pretty fun to sit down and edit my own photos. Although editing photos is a bit different than editing video. I think it’s a bit harder telling a story through photos. And that’s something I’ve heard about [The Showdown] from a couple different guys, that the presentation is really important, in addition to the quality of the photos. It’s such a big part to get the audience going and get them drawn in.
Who did you get advice from?
Andy Wright mostly, I questioned him quite a bit and he told me what he learned. I bounced a couple ideas off some other people on the video side. I put quite a bit of time into it. I have a shoot next week so I won’t be able to work on it anymore.
Have you ever seen anyone else’s show that’s been in it?
I watched [Chris] Burkard’s, I watched Andy’s [Wright]. To be honest I didn’t really want to watch to many before editing cause I just wanted to do my own thing. I watched a couple to get an idea for what was cool to do and what wasn’t. Mine has a decent amount of lifestyle in it, which is one thing I was questioning. When I went into it I wanted to do it more like a video edit rather than a slideshow. I think some people will probably really like it and some people won’t like it as much. And by that I don’t mean there’s rapid fire photos but there’s sections where the music will speed up so the time on a certain image will speed up. Going at it that way it’s also a little frustrating cause they limit you pretty hard on what you can do. You can’t pan and scan, you can’t zoom in on photos, you can’t use motion graphics. Which is great, I totally understand why they do that. But it ended up working out really nicely.
Your action is all snowboarding?
No, it’s probably 60% snowboarding, 30% skateboarding and 10% surf. I thought about taking the surf images out but there’s some really strong stuff and I figured if I was going to go skate and snow I might as well throw some surf in there too. Because being a filmer for years I shot photos randomly of what I thought was cool that passed in front of me, whether that was snowboarding or whether or whether that was my friends skating or whatever it was.
Awesome, we can’t wait to see it on the big screen. Any thanks or people you’d like to acknowledge?
Thanks to Brittany Pearce, my brother Justin… Burton Snowboards, Dean Blotto Gray, Andy Wright, Bryan Knox, David Pfluger, Evan Rose and Pierre Minhondo.