Interview – Photographer, Laura Szanto

If you have spent more than five minutes in Revelstoke, you know there is no shortage of passionate snowboarders. Throughout this winter, we will bring you interviews with a tiny portion of these fine folk. Delving deep into their minds could be a perilous journey, but we think we are up to the task!


Contributed by @MadelaineDuff
Contributed by @MadelaineDuff

This week, we chatted with Laura Szanto, an internationally published photographer whose beautiful work is hard to miss. Although we have many friends in common and had chats over the gram, we had never actually met in person. Her kindness, warmth and passion for Snowboarding and photography were evident from the get-go. Sharing both these passions meant that staying on track and not getting too deep into a subject was a little tricky, haha. So here is a mere snapshot of our conversation.

Hey Laura, so good to finally sit down a chat with you in person. How long have you been in Revelstoke now?

I have been here for 4 years, which admittedly has gone by very quickly! I live here now, because 7 years ago when I used to live in Banff, I came to Revelstoke for a ski trip. My first experience was memorable, and I remember thinking ‘holy shit, this is way better snow quality than anything i’ve ever experienced in the Rockies.’ After a few more trips, I decided that I really liked the vibe of the town and the type of complex riding that the resort had to offer. The terrain here was really incomparable to any other ski hill I had ever been to before. I enjoyed that at the resort, it was a choose your own adventure kind of day. You could find exceptional lines that involved couloirs, pillows and cliffs. My level of riding has definitely accelerated in the last couple of years.

Totally, There are many options to push yourself if you want to, even in bounds.

Yes, and the added cherry on top is the slackcountry available at RMR too. The stuff you can access walking just 10 minutes straight of the lifts is pretty mind boggling!

The snow and the riding drew you those first couple of trips, but what solidified those decisions for you?

I think Revelstoke is more my style in terms of getting outdoors; people are stoked to be active and keen to explore, and I have found a good community for me too. One of the aspects I really enjoy about living in this town is the accessibility we have with just about any outdoor activity. You can bike ten minutes to impressive trails, and even belay straight from your car at some of the local crags! When the driving is minimal, you are able to spend more time exploring and connecting with those around you.

Yeah, I was going to ask, you found a community you felt at home in quickly here?

It actually took some time. Revelstoke, because it is not as transient as Banff, it felt that people were quite established in their own groups of friends, but I feel like now I have found such a good community of people and everybody is so passionate about similar things. It’s pushed me out of my comfort zone to try so many new things! I hadn’t tried ski touring, frisby golf (haha) and mountain biking before I moved here, so now I have picked up all these exciting new hobbies that keep me even busier than I was before. I have also grown a lot on the athlete side, which has allowed me to be a more versatile photographer. 

Right, totally not alone in that. Moving can always be tough to start. So, important question, How did you get into Snowboarding? How’d that come about?

My whole family skied, and then when I was 15, my Dad bought a snowboard. And I was like, my Dad is so cool, I should also definitely do that! So I got a snowboard, and he taught me on the less so glamorous ski hills around Ottawa and Quebec. Although they were tiny and barely comparable to any mountains out here, I still remember loving the feeling of gliding and the flowing movement of being on a snowboard. 10 years later, when I moved to Banff, I had such easy access to the ski hills that instead of going 5-10 times a year, I went over 50 times. It’s enough to see improvement and to get hooked on feelings of progression, creativity and expression. 

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Sounds like a cool Dad. Good job, Dad! Speaking of creativity, who’s been inspiring you lately?

I think for snowboarders, I really admire people like Jess Kimura and Leanne Pelosi. They have paved a way through a very male-dominated sport, and their grit,  fearlessness and style is so admirable. I know that when you’re in a male-dominated atmosphere, it feels like you are swimming against the current, and they have persevered and made a path for women to thrive and shine. And they’re badass ladies!

On the more photographic side, I really like the work of Tara Kerzhner, Sofia Jaramillo, Savannah Cummins, and Krystle Wright who are all action sports filmmakers and photographers. Also, badass and amazing athletes in their own right. They have each gone through a lot in their personal lives to create very high-calibre work.

Love it! Such a crew of amazing people mentioned there (if you don’t know them, go look them up!)

I have seen a decent amount of your work, and what’s stood out to me is your adaptability across a range of genres. What helps you to be so versatile in your photography?

I think the most important thing in photography is shooting something you’re interested in, that above all else produces good content. I’ve learned a lot from shooting things I’m not as comfortable in because I am curious to learn. It didn’t always come naturally, but I have tried to school myself in different lenses, different lighting and different circumstances. People think because you’re a photographer, you can just take pictures of everything. Still, different categories come with different lens choices, lighting, and post-processing work. All those things have to come together. Photography forces a lot of self-reflection and really makes you grow. It feels like you never stop learning; I’ve never got the point like I’ve done it, this is the end.

Adaptability comes from learning along the way too. Every time I shoot something, I learn something new. Photographers don’t talk about this much, but everyone makes mistakes. It’s a crazy learning curve where you think you have something dialed, and then life throws you a new curveball and you are forced to try something different.

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Yeah, I often sit down to learn new things/ techniques in photography and quickly realize even after this long, I have barely scratched the surface.

I really do appreciate the whole process of being creative. The brainstorming of ideas, the production planning and just bringing everything together to make it possible. It’s an incredible feeling to imagine a shot that you want, and then actually producing it. 

What are a few of those lessons you have learned with shooting Snowboarding?

With sports, a huge part is communication. This may not come intuitively to some people, but if you want someone to be somewhere in a shot, you have to learn precisely how to communicate with an athlete. This of course isn’t always easy, especially with a sport like Snowboarding, where circumstances and variables are constantly changing. 

With athletes, it’s really important to learn how to work with them. A good balance of asking them where to be while allowing them to do what really gets them hyped is a good combination. Good chemistry is key, and if you can choose, I have found more success in this.

Preparedness is important for a shoot. If you are able to rehearse ideas, scope out locations and have a shot list available, it allows you more time for creativity. 

Right, if you’re anxious, it’s harder to be open to creativity.

What’s getting you excited to get out and shoot this winter?

I just bought a shiny new flash this year, so I am excited to get out and practice doing some night snowboard photography (I do shoot skiers too by the way!). I’ve also been toying with the idea of teaching some adventure workshops at some point this year if I can find the time. I think this town might have some interest in that. 

I would like to shoot more people from different backgrounds, ethnicities and genders. It’s definitely changing, especially in the last year, I’ve seen many films shining a light on different communities and different kinds of people, which is important.

Fannie Dufour, West Kootenay Back country, shot by Laura Szanto.

Yeah, I agree. I think Mountian culture has generally been affluent white people, and being able to show that it is a space for everyone needs to be done more.

Agreed! A particularly (maybe even the most important) aspect of this line of work is that I do get to work with a diverse range of talented people. Which does change your life in exciting ways, and I’m so deeply appreciative of that. Photography has led me to some of the coolest people I have ever met. 

Haha, yup! Thanks for the chat, Laura! I will chuck some notes at the end here as to where people can find your work, and also those you mentioned earlier.

Find Laura’s work at


Check out these other inspiring women on Instagram:

@jess.kimura   @leannepelosi  @sav.cummins  @krystlejwright  @tarakerzhner