Hiding in Plain Sight—Stan Evan Long Exposure From Issue 33.1
My Name is Stanley Levi Evans II. During my tenure, I was the first and only professional Black snowboard photographer. While it took a minute for others to grasp, I was always keenly aware of this reality. I wasn’t just working for myself; I was working to pave a way for others. When people ask, “What have Black people done for snowboarding?”
Here is a glimpse at my twenty-plus years behind the lens and the legacy it represents. My dream is multifaceted. First, I hope somewhere out there in the world, these images inspire some young brother or sister to pick up a camera. Secondly, I hope for the snowboard community to embrace their curiosity. This is not a reflection of my past, but a call to action for the industry to believe in their future.
The Legend Lives On
In snowboarding there was one person everyone wanted to emulate when it came to making a pow turn. Craig Kelly. Zach Leach was testing new boards for Lib Tech and we got this shot. This photo is one of my all-time favorites and it shows that the spirit of Craig lives on.
I don’t care what anyone says. Shaun White is one of my favorite snowboarders to watch in the halfpipe. Big tricks, amplitude, and one of the gnarliest comeback stories in the history of snowboarding to win the 2018 Olympics. His coach at this time was JJ Thomas (pictured two below).
Gretchen Bleiler is one of the best to ever ride a snowboard—man or woman—and an inspiration to living life to the fullest. While she was already an accomplished woman in halfpipe, she took a huge leap of faith in working with me on a STANCE, an all-women’s snowboard ﬁlm that I produced. She also lent her time urging her sponsors to support and push women’s freeriding.
JJ was Shaun’s coach with an Olympic bronze medal to his name, he’s no slouch himself. Beyond his talent, JJ is my favorite snowboarder because of the friendship and dedication he showed in helping me throughout my career and beyond. JJ also happened to be the coach for Gretchen.
Soundtrack to Our Lives – Indie to Hip Hop
Representing the indie side of things, Tyler Lepore is wildly talented and vastly underappreciated in snowboarding. On this particular trip, we were paired with a bunch of heliboarding rookies and Tyler did a lot of standing around and coaching. One by one, three riders went down with knee injuries, leaving Tyler and I still standing. The team manager wanted us to milk it for pics, but as I was calling over the radio for Tyler to stop and get another shot he just kept on going. At the top of the run I smiled at his quiet rebellion and joined him. I dropped my pack and we took two more hops, just Tyler, the guide, and myself. Moral of the story: If you have an open chopper and clear skies, you better use it.
MFM. Happy Hour, Back in Black, so many iconic video parts and the most unique, effortless style. Marc Frank Montoya unapologetically represented inner city youth on the mountain and it was great to see. The dude also loved to sleep in because frankly, nothing was going to happen ‘till he got there, anyway. I always found irony in watching all these resort towns exploiting immigrant labor, but not providing a viable option for those who didn’t work speciﬁcally at the resort to share the hills.
Down For Life
Chris Coulter was a blue collar kid from New Mexico who earned everything he got in snowboarding. If anything, his name deserves a lot more respect in this industry. He’s the Damian Lillard of snowboarding—constantly putting up 50-point games, but always asked where the championship is. He continually pushed harder to expand his knowledge in the mountains. Beyond that, he always stood up for me when so-called “collaborations” turned to “tokenism” and others proﬁted from my hard work. Chris, I tried to get you as many spreads as I could and here’s one more. Thanks for being a true friend.
Inclusion and Diversity
It’s funny thinking about where we are now in these times of multicultural marketing with brands scrambling to be more inclusive and diverse. Especially in snowboarding. You had two of the best right under your noses, but they got pigeonholed into certain tricks and roles. Two decades ago, I put my ass on the line and demanded that I get to go on a trip with all the professional Black snowboarders at the time. A credit to SNOWBOARDER Magazine, they granted my wish and Keir Dillon (far right), Ben Hinkley (this page), Ahmon Stamps, and Damon Morris road tripped from Montana to Wyoming. I was amazed at the ability of these brothers and wished people could really understand what I saw, all of us laughing, gooﬁng off, freeriding, and freestyling through the West. Ben and Keir rose to the occasion and shined a bit brighter than the rest of us. It made me wonder what might have been if we’d been in more control of our budgets and image. It’s a melancholy realization that we had to wait 20 years to ﬁnd out and Ben never got a chance to see this issue.
Years ago, I produced an all-women’s snowboard film. Being a guy, a lot of people asked me wh I’d do that? My response was always: Try being Black for a day. I knew what it was like to feel marginalized so I empathized. If you were talented, hardworking, and dedicated I wanted to work with you. Male or female. This wasn’t some novel idea, it’s just the way shit should be.
Jamie Anderson was such a raw talent when I first met her. I knew she was going to go places. It’s rad to see her mature and fuse her personality and spirituality into winning competitions and advocacy for conservation. In 2009, Raewyn Reid started filming late in the year and ended up with enough footage for two parts in STANCE. She was unique, stylish, and to this day, I’d say it’s one of the most progressive video parts. I really feel like she slipped through the industry cracks because she didn’t subscribe to the “cute snowboard girl” stereotype.
JP Solberg is always smiling, cracking jokes, boosting with style, and ready to spread the love. He’d come over from Norway and stay at my place. Anytime we had a good day, he’d take me out to a sushi dinner. Needless to say, his style and landings were on point, so I stayed full when he was around. Now the part-owner of YES, he and his team recently did a signature series on American Black rappers with Chi Modu’s photographs. It says a lot about his respect for Black culture and bringing that to snowboarding. When George Floyd passed, JP reached out to ask how I was doing. That meant a lot to me and speaks volumes to his character.
Trevor. TRZA. Trouble. Guccighost. What-ever you want to call him, Trevor Andrew is a transformative ﬁgure within snowboarding, a constant inﬂux of stimulus and evolution. Shooting and travelling together, I was in awe at his ability to operate on a higher level, always creating. When we were shooting, he blew his knee out. Driving him to the hospital and having snowboarding taken away from him for the season, I saw his frustration but also his determination. His mind was already elsewhere. Manifesting. Years later, he got deeper into music and art, he married Santigold, and they are a power couple of creativity. He’s a legend and now he’s raising interracial kids, and the future we build in snowboarding now will be their reality. The reality we build in snowboarding now is the future they will navigate.
Without Justin Mooney, I probably wouldn’t have gone far shooting snowboarding. We met in college in Montana. He was getting his start as a pro and I was getting pretty good with a camera. He trusted me in getting the shot and it was a collaborative experience as we fed off each other with a lot of good trips and laughs in between. By far, my days with Justin were the best of my career. Everything was new—we were too young to care about much. That time led to Justin getting on the Ride team and meeting Brandon Ruff.
Brandon to this day is one of the gnarliest snowboarders I’ve ever seen. Fun fact: In the IMAX film with Terje, they mislabeled Brandon’s crazy lines in AK as Terje and no one knew. He was a silent, heavy metal rocker and he would become my unlikeliest of friends. Beneath that gruff exterior, he had a heart of gold. Brandon shared many firsts with me, watching his dogs to watching his first son being born. (I was the photographer.)
Purpose and Pain
I was ﬁrst introduced to Jason Schutz by Jay Moore at World Boards in Bozeman, MT. At the time, he was one of the most accomplished extreme snowboarders in the world. He would become my backcountry mentor, teaching me route ﬁnding, slough management, and how to use an ice axe, dig a pit, and use a transceiver. Years later when my sister was killed by a drunk driver, I was extremely upset about her passing. Jason was one of the people who really gave me a shoulder to cry on and a way to focus my rage. Jason took that energy and helped me channel it in a positive way by getting me outside and shooting more photos. Eventually it led to my ﬁrst advertisement with The North Face. That small bit of success and nurturing got my career going.
Tim Ostler is the most optimistic person who suffered a most unfortunate circumstance. Tim-my was paralyzed on a shoot I was on. We weren’t actually shooting because the conditions were so shitty, so I dropped my pack to make some runs through the halfpipe. As I ﬁnished my run, I turned to see Timmy catch his heels on the deck and pitch into the pipe on his neck. In my mind I was willing him to get up, wishing him to get up, so I hiked up to him and although he could talk and grab my hand through my mittens, everything was not okay. He couldn’t move his feet. Tonino Copene took over and I did the only thing I could think of to do: take pictures and document. I will be the ﬁrst to tell you there are some things no one should ever have to witness. Seeing Timmy helivaced out, I felt an enormous guilt because I’d asked him to come shoot. I carried that for years but to Tim’s credit he never placed blame. If anything, he had a calming demeanor. Tim taught me to look fate in the eye and continue trying to live life to the fullest.
Riot in the Streets
Around the time of these photos, street snowboarding was taking a dramatic turn. Wallrides were all the rage, but the “gap phenomenon” started in a little parking lot in Utah. Dan Brisse had come to do this gap-to-rail on the other side of the parking lot and as I was walking around, I noticed this gap had potential. Big credit to Brisse for stepping up, but the visualization of possibilities was on my end.
This spot came from my desire to create impactful images in the streets. Those desires came with consequence though, because if you shoot urban features eventually the cops are going to get called. Being a Black photographer makes things different due the prejudices Black people face every day. I was risking my life to shoot rails. Perhaps that sounds like an exaggeration, but this one time in Draper, UT, we were shooting and someone called the cops saying a drug dealer was in their neighborhood with a machine gun. I was carrying my camera tripod and eight cop cars showed up. Some things I couldn’t make up if I tried.
Shooting with Gigi Rüf always presented quiet, unexpected surprises.
Larger Than Life
I love this above shot of Travis Rice because it reminds me of the fun, childlike Travis before he became The Travis Rice. Back when he was still a kid on the come up, he was sleeping on my couch and stealing whiskey out of my liquor cabinet to go party at the U of U with college girls. Although he was mischievous, he was always the hardest worker in the room, which made for great photos, but at times, I wanted to kill him because of his stubbornness. The shot on the left was his ﬁrst run of the day. The dude is walking heart attack and thrives on danger and challenge. I was often happy to come home in one piece after one of his missions. His desire to be the best is unparalleled. The photo on the right is from a trip where Shane Charlebois and I went to Alaska over Memorial Day to ﬁnish Travis’ video part. All those tries are his alone. He’d hit the jump, then I’d drop my camera and shuttle him back up. I blew up that sled and got hypothermia on the ﬁrst day out, but seeing his determination I knew we couldn’t lose a day. So, the next morning we rented a different sled and went right back at it. Where others falter, Travis ﬁnds his stride. It’s not a place for mere mortals and while I walked that edge quite often, I found myself pulling away from snowboarding because making a mistake in those conditions could result in serious injury or death. I had other things in life I wanted to experience.
Friends on a powder day. This is a photo of Tyler Lepore and Chris Demolski, but it could be any one of us and a pal. Snowboarding needs to reassess what community really means and why it so afraid of sharing these experiences in the outdoors with people who may not look or act exactly like them.