En Zed: New Zealand Spyder Photoshoot Journey

Our second big catalog shoot with Spyder is in bag. We captured 10,000+ images over the course of 10 days with 5 athletes at 3 resorts.

The trip started with the ambitious attempt to lug 440lbs of ski, camera and lighting gear into 2 ski bags, 3 pelican cases, and 2 Dakine roller bags. We made it though DIA with a manageable extra baggage fee of $300. We don’t say it often but… Thanks United! Once in NZ things didn’t go quite as smoothly. Two pelicans and a camera bag were confiscated and we ended up walking all around the Aukland airport grounds trying not to get hit by cars by looking the wrong way crossing roads and searching for the Customs office.


In true Kiwi fashion we had 5 customs officials all with a good sense of humor helping us try and get our bags back. At one point everyone in the office was gathered around one computer heckling the head officer for his bad typing skills. While we were dealing with the Kiwi customs version of Super Troopers the flight we should have been on and planned on missing was grounded because half our bags that were checked through were on the plane and we weren’t. We were getting texts from the rest of our crew that made the flight saying, “don’t talk to me or even make eye contact when you get on the plane. We’ve been sitting here for 30 minutes and people are PISSED.” After customs officials raced us through the airport and we got yelled at by the Air New Zealand woman escorting us to our flight… “If I can run this fast in my high heels the least you can do is keep up!”, we made our flight to Queenstown with all our gear and avoided getting stoned to death by angry delayed travelers.

We spent the next 7 days based out of a beautiful modern 7 bedroom house overlooking Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu.

The House

The Lake

We spent 2 days at Cadrona shooting Colby James West and Eva Patscheider jumping. We got early ups the day after the Burton NZ Open and got to shoot the jumps cleaned of banners and fences and we were lucky enough to get a beautiful sunny day. We were also able to shoot our Profoto strobes at high sync speeds thanks to Pocket Wizard’s new technology. We’ll do another nerdier post on all our gear and photography specific info after this post.

A Jump

During our stay the storm of century rolled through Queenstown and dump a staggering… wait for it… foot on the ground. Queenstown, despite being known as a winter recreation destination, is not used to any snow and completely unprepared for the event. The city shut down. Every slope in sight had mini kickers built and kids sessioning. Cars were abandoned, businesses closed. Half our crew make their way over the pass to Snow Park and Wanaka and half decided to brave the treacherous road up to The Remarkables. Half way up our chains broke and we had to hold them together with ski straps. Knowing a thin piece of orange rubber is the only thing holding your traction devices on bald rental tires while weaving perilously close to a 2,000 foot drop with no guard rail is disconcerting to say the least… not to mention the total lack of visibility in the 50+ mph winds and the huge busses barreling down the middle of the tiny narrow road.

The Mountains

More Mountains

We managed to tick off the shot list a couple days early and decided to hit the road. No stay in Queenstown would be complete without the requisite bungee jump so we hit the Kawarau Bridge Bungee on the way out of town.

We raced to catch the sunset on Lake Tekapu for some lifestyle shots and then made party in Methven. The next day we shipped some product and started the cruise to the west coast via Arthurs Pass. Cruising through the Southern Alps down to the coast was an amazing scenic journey and we only killed one sheep on the way [no sheep were actually hurt or killed… although one, upon being chased, fainted or possibly made the rapid decision to take a nap during a full sprint]. We caught sunset at Punakaiki, ate an amazing dinner, had a recovery sleep, and then headed back to the right coast.

The Ride

Left Coast GTS

From huge mountain passes, to rolling rainforest hills descending straight into dramatic craggy cold coastline, east to west, we saw a lot in our few days of travel. New Zealand has so much to offer it would take years to experience everything there is to see and do but we did a pretty good job of exploring and making the most of our short time on the island of middle earth… We took some pretty pictures too.

Right Coast Sun Rise

Right Coast GTS

Unfortunately we can’t share any of the photos that feature new Spyder Gear until next year so in the mean time this is a tiny sampling of what we captured.

HUGE Thanks to: Spyder, Jess McMillan, Julia Mancuso, Colby James West, Eva Patscheider, Jake Zamansky, Steve Nyman, LowePro, Pocketwizard, Profoto, San Disk, Pelican Cases, and Contour Cam.

There is a ton that goes into successfully executing a location shoot of this scale. We’ve been lucky enough to both shoot and produce photoshoots all over the world and over the next few weeks we will do a series of posts based on the New Zealand shoot highlighting what we’ve learned throughout the years.

We’ll cover…
Part 1: Packing and Travel
Part 2: Digital Remote Workflow
Part 3: Location Lighting
Part 4: Planning and Logistics

Gratuitous Sea Donkey Shots

Fuzzy Land Seal

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