The Burton Blog

North Shore to Whistler with Burton Photographer Gabe L’Heureux

by Gabe L'Heureux

Let’s just say, my day to day on the clock as a Burton Staff photographer is unpredictable at best.

There’s no road map to go off of when your job is to travel around shooting snowboarding, following weather patterns, and bouncing back and forth between continents. From traveling with the Burton Team to working on location for catalog shoots and finding time for projects on the side, I spend over 200 days a year on the road. There are hundreds of images that make up the story of a season, but I’ll narrow it down to a few to open a window into the world of a Burton Photographer. Each experience posed its own challenges, and I’m lucky enough to work with some true professionals and amazing people who are always down to get the shot.    

North Shore, Hawaii

Pro Surfer, John John Florence caught at Pipe Masters on a conveniently timed mileage run.

It was December 20th and I had to do a quick mileage run. When you travel as much as we do it’s really important to have status on the airlines. Status means; free bags, skip the lines, and upgrades… If you’re not where you need to be for mileage at the end of the year you have to do what we call a ‘mileage run.’ (Getting the needed mileage to hit the status level therefore affecting the entire next year of travel)… Sooo I went to Hawaii for two days and luckily caught the most prestigious event in surfing… The Pipe Masters. The waves were firing… 20 ft faces easy.. Photographers dream… Not just at the contest…Before and after and on the side. People absolutely shredding.

Whistler, British Columbia

Mikkel making the most of a cloudy day.

After that quick trip, the snow finally got good and deep enough to get out into the backcountry. Mikkel Bang, Mikey Rencz, Aaron Leyland (Burton Filmer) and I spent a good five or six days in Whistler getting what we could. We had four or five days of productive cloudy days and then one day that was perfect; clear skies, and really good locations. Here’s Mikkel, getting the shot despite the cloudy weather.

Aaron Leyland cruising through the alpine.

This is Burton Filmer Aaron Leyland in his natural habitat of Rutherford Creek, out in the Whistler Backcountry. We got all the shots that we could for the day. It was close to sunset and we were just scouting around looking for future spots.. Whenever possible, its great to have a spot in mind for the following day. Makes things a lot more productive in the mornings… you can show up and get to work immediately.

Hey Mikey, hows the snow?

This was on one of those days when you wake up and it’s super cloudy and you just think you’ve got nothing. But when you’re with riders like Mikey and Mikkel who know these mountains like the backs of their hands and are motivated as it gets, you end up coming out with something good. I was hoping to head out and get some action shots for the magazines. This is way out in the backcountry in Whistler. Mikey and Mikkel just ripped these pillows over and over again. His expression says it all, just one of the most amazing zones ever. 

Aspen, Colorado

Ayumu Hirano caught in the blur.
Red Gerard with a double-exposed inversion at his first X-Games Slopestyle.

Right after Whistler I went straight to Aspen for X Games. There are a few challenges with shooting the X games. Tons of banners, photographers and random people lurking everywhere. Also, its always in the same locations, same jumps… It gets repetitive to say the least. This time I challenged myself to do something different. I started doing these slow shutter spiral shots as you see here with Ayumu Hirano, as well as the double exposures, like the one of Red Gerard. It was my way of trying to do things a little different than I normally would and turn a generally average shooting experience into a good one.


San Juan Islands, Washington

On to the San Juan Islands to scout for a catalog shoot.
Taking in the Puget Sound.

I went from X Games to the San Juan Islands to scout for our Spring/Summer 2017 catalog shoot. We do this before every catalog shoot to make sure we have great locations locked down thus having the most productive shoot in the smallest amount of time. Producer, Michael Gardzina, Art Director, David Pfluger and I cruised around the islands for a few days and found some unreal locations…Its always a good time traveling with these guys. 


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Now on to Austria with Mikey Rencz and Mikkel Bang.

When I was coming back from San Juan, I was on a plane leaving Seattle when I got a text from Mikey saying, “Hey, do you want to come to Europe? We’re leaving in two days, lets do it.” Before that I’d had no idea that I’d be on the road two days later. But Mikkel, Mikey, a filmer and I went to Austria. The snow wasn't amazing, but we got plenty of interesting content. Europe is different than so many other places in the world. It’s extremely charming and the mountains are on such a massive scale. So much vertical rise and endless terrain…Everytime I go there to shoot I seemed to come home really happy with the shots- Whether snowboarding, or the random stuff we find on the side of the road like this cool little chapel.

Seizing off-piste opportunities with Mikey Rencz.

This was right on the side of a run at the top of a lift. We were kind of down on our luck. Resorts in Europe are generally just so big and we didn’t have a guide, so we were just trying to figure it out for ourselves.  Luckily we stumbled across this strange area right next to the top of a chairlift we were on. I asked Mikey if he’d be into hiking up there and getting a slash, and he was super into it like he always is. He was a little concerned that it wasn’t deep enough, but it ended up being great.

Right next to this spot. Mikkel found a kicker on the looker’s right that ended up shooting really really well… its actually one of my favorite images from the season. Sometimes not planning is the best plan.    

Vail, Colorado

Shaun White on his way to another Burton U.S. Open Halfpipe win.

The Burton U.S. Open is the most unbelievable contest in snowboarding. I love going every year because it’s our event, it’s such a good vibe, and it seems like the limits are always pushed. It’s spring. It’s sunny. The halfpipe is soft. This year we had Shaun White there which of course raised the bar. He did one of the highest airs ever done. What more can I say? It’s not exactly the end of the season, but it’s a good place to stop, for now anyway... ∆