Summit Right Brain: Local photographer Gill Montgomery brings love of snowboarding into her work
Like many children raised in Summit County, Gill Montgomery was on the slopes soon after she could walk. As a youth, she competed at the ski areas, but injuries kept her from pursuing snowboarding professionally. She didn’t let that stop her from following her passion, just in a different capacity and now takes photographs of skiers and snowboarders on the hill.
Montgomery graduated Summit High in 2008 before moving to Bozeman to complete a photography program at Montana State University. After graduating, her path led her to several different ski towns before eventually landing back in Summit County. Right out of college, she took a job at Windells, a year-round ski and snowboard camp in Oregon, shooting photos of athletes participating in the camp. After spending the summer in Oregon, she moved to Park City, Utah with a few friends, where she spent the winter shadowing under a couple of photographers and doing freelance work. After a summer back at Windells, she moved to Salt Lake City where she was an in-house photographer for Brighton Ski Resort.
At the beginning of this winter season, she found herself back where it all began, living in Breckenridge and working at Blue Moon Bakery in Silverthorne while doing freelance work consisting of product photography and family and senior portraits. But her traveling spirit won’t let her stay too long, and, in three weeks, she will be heading to Canada, where she and her boyfriend will pick up their new home for the year — a minibus converted into a livable diesel van. The couple will be traveling around the West to different resorts, taking photos at ski and snowboard competitions along the way, documenting their experience on the road. Montgomery hopes to produce a magazine from their travels, including photos taken by herself and her boyfriend, Ryan, who is also a photographer, including interviews with artists in the snowsports industry.
Summit Daily News: How did you first get into photography, and what kind of background do you have in the subject?
Gill Montgomery: I started in middle school because the middle school up here used to be high school, and they had a huge dark room, so they had some really good classes taught through there. I just continued it on into high school, and I remember they had a junior photography opportunity. … It was over in Keystone, and they had a few of the photography students — anyone could apply — and they chose five or six students to show their work … I got to do that with a few other students, and, after doing that, I loved working with photography, and I’ve also just always shot snowboarding. I was on Team Summit, so I would just go out and shoot photos of my team members whenever I was injured and got hooked on that.
SDN: Is your work up anywhere in Summit County?
GM: I just had a show at The Crown, and they allowed me to put up my work over the entire coffee shop and had an opening night. It hung for a month, and they are doing a local artist a month, so I was the first artist to go with that. I’ve worked a little bit with Team Summit as well, donated photos here and there.
SDN: What would you say inspires you when it comes to photography?
GM: I love the action of getting out and creating a photo. Every time is different, especially going out and shooting skiing or snowboarding. Most of the time, you don’t know where you’re going to go, you don’t know what the conditions are going to be like. Sometimes you can anticipate that, but I like going out and making it work. Sometimes it works out really well and sometimes not so much.
SDN: What are your other hobbies and interests?
GM: I snowboard a lot. I used to compete when I was younger and lived out here. But I had a few injuries that kept me from pursuing that. I still love snowboarding and getting out with friends. I’ve been getting into backcountry riding and have a splitboard, and I’ve been learning a lot about avy safety and traveling around doing that.
SDN: What advice would you give to aspiring photographers?
GM: If you really want to get into it, you just have to start doing it. The more you take photos — you’re not going to get any worse the more you do it. You are constantly going to be meeting people and talking to them and learning from everyone. I shadowed under a couple of photographers when I was in Utah. … Find a photographer who you really like their work and see if they are willing to help you out and give advice.
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