Mike Weyerhaeuser is a legendary snowboard photographer who has been shooting on snow for over 20 years and has photographed three Winter Olympic Games to date.
Born in Missouri, he left for Colorado when he was 18 years old to settle in the mountains. After college he ended up in Winter Park, where he became a published photographer. He was sent to Chamonix on assignment in 1999/2000 right after the Mont Blanc Tunnel fire and Montroc avalanche. Two weeks later, he moved there. Onboard had just re-located from Austria, so it was perfect timing, and Weyerhaeuser used the move as a platform to fulfil his ambitions of establishing himself in snowboarding photography.
I used to work in television but couldn’t stand somebody telling me where to point the camera, so I quit. Luck landed me a job shooting rafters on the upper Colorado river from a whitewater kayak and I split my time between the mountains and the rapids. I learned my way around a camera (it was a Canon A2E with eye-controlled focus) and learned I could build a career around my passion. I shot like crazy, read every book I could find on technique and built my contact list. My first publication was a local mag in Winter Park, but that turned to kayak mags, and eventually snowboarding.
“When I work with a young rider or photographer who’s serious about his or her direction, I shine”
I still love to shoot freeride trips and heli-based riding, but as a father of a young child, I’m not travelling as much as before. In my early career, I’d move around a lot and write/shoot travel feature packages for various magazines. This melded into more competitive halfpipe and slopestyle coverage, but really, it’s all about the people you’re with and the passion they have for what they’re doing. I like getting to know the people I shoot to work the long story – it’s a lot more interesting. Nowadays, I’m more prone to shoot for charities like worldbicyclerelief.org than I am to follow FIS events around the planet.