Behind the Scenes With Adventure Sports Photographer Christian Pondella

In this video, go behind the scenes with adventure sports photographer Christian Pondella as he travels to Greenland and photographs professional climber Will Gadd ice climbing in the polar landscape. 

Christian Pondella is an accomplished photographer, rock climber, ice climber, and skier. He is a senior photographer for Powder magazine, a San Disk Extreme Team member, Fstop Global Pro, and Lululemon Elite Ambassador. His work has graced the pages of Sports Illustrated, ESPN Magazine, Outside, Men's Journal, Maxim, FHM, GQ, Climbing, Outside Photographer, Shutterbug, and more. His commercial client list includes Patagonia, San Disk, Eddie Bauer, Clif Bar, and Red Bull, among others.

Beside a behind-the-scenes look into Pondella's process and mindset while having a camera in hand, there are two things that stick out to me in this video. The first is that there is illumination on the importance of the photographer-athlete relationship. Most often, outdoor adventure photographers travel with and shoot athletes whom they have a previous, trusting relationship with. This makes the process of photographing in no-fall zones and other precarious situations and locations much easier and smooth.

"[Gadd] and I have been doing projects together for almost 20 years now," says Pondella in the video. "I don't know if I would go into a glacier with anyone else. He brings 30-plus years of experience ice climbing and just knowing the environment. There's not many people I put that kind of trust into." 

The other aspect I enjoy about this video is that I think it does a good job illuminating the risks outdoor photographers take while on a shoot. Not only do they have to be professional creatives and masters behind the lens, outdoor photographers also need to be competent in the outdoors and willing to put themselves in situations that not many others would or could. Whether it be photographing dangerously close to an iceberg that could flip at any moment or lowering into the abyss of a glacial waterfall, Pondella approaches risk taking with a thoughtful and cautious mind.  

Watch the video and leave a comment below saying what your favorite aspect of this short film. Would you ever photograph in precarious places like those shown in the video? 

Tim Behuniak's picture

Timothy Behuniak is a Salt Lake City-based landscape and outdoor adventure photographer who's passionate about getting lost in the woods with his camera. Tim's hope is that his viewers, like him, will one day love and fight to protect the beautiful locations he is fortunate to photograph.

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I started my career in video production in 1989 when I found out I could get paid to kayak class IV and V whitewater if you're willing to paddle solo and video the clients rafting trip. Great gig and great people. A lot more fun than what I'm doing now.
Great article! More of these please!

Thank you for sharing this story :)