PPD Spotlight: Chip Kalback's Portraits of Africa-American Skiers in Tahoe

By Chip Kalback   Monday October 31, 2016

This article originally appeared here.

Last spring Powder’s director of photography came to me with the opportunity to shoot a portrait heavy feature in Lake Tahoe. The magazine wanted to do a feature on the National Brotherhood of Skiers, an all African-American organization comprised of various ski clubs from around the U.S. which got its start in 1973.

The goal of the National Brotherhood of Skiers is to come together at a yearly summit while funding talented young black skiers who have the potential of making it to the U.S. Olympic Ski Team. Attendance at these summits has exceeded 5,000 members in the past.

I couldn’t wait to get started on the shoot because of how flattering and exciting it was to be given the opportunity from Powder to showcase the NBS’ love for the sport of skiing.

The week-long event at Heavenly Mountain included everything from photographing a Sunday-morning gospel service to races and runs with ‘bro pros’  to nightly theme parties and, of course, lots of portraits.

Each morning I would wheel my portable ski-bag-sized portrait studio through the Hard Rock Casino and set up in the hallway of the hotel, so I could photograph as many NBS members as possible before they took off for the day to go ski. I’d quickly drop off my gear to my room after each morning’s portrait session and review the images, before heading out to the hill for the day too.

Throughout the week I met so many fellow skiers, coming from areas like Detroit, Atlanta, Oakland, Florida, and elsewhere, for the chance to take in some of Lake Tahoe’s legendary views while celebrating the sport.

After everything was wrapped up, the last theme party had been thrown, and the last run taken, I headed back to Denver with sore legs and a laptop full of portraits I was really pleased with.


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