Photo Essay: Vermont Sidecountry Through the Lens of a Stowe Local
Reflecting on 25 years spent snowboarding in, on, and around the dense forests of Mount Mansfield, Vermont's tallest Peak
Nathanael Asaro is a professional freelance photographer based in Vermont specializing in lifestyle, travel, landscapes, and product photography.
I only recently turned 30, but I've been snowboarding in Vermont for 25 years. More than enough time to witness a lot of change, development, and commercialization at Stowe, my local ski resort on the side of Mount Mansfield, the state's tallest peak.
The quaint Vermont feeling you might find in postcards is slowly fading. But one thing remains constant, and that's my drive to snowboard here, and to share those moments and adventures with my friends in the mountains.
Thankfully, the natural terrain of Mansfield is also something that hasn’t changed much over the years.
Hiking beyond the rope lines and away from the resort, into the surrounding mountains, provides an escape, and a chance to get closer to nature and to find solitude. I've made many good friends through our shared love for snowboarding and they're often my subjects when documenting adventures in the area.
The feeling of snowboarding in the wilderness is different from riding on trails at a resort, especially in the Northeast. There are dangers like cliffs, ice waterfalls, running water, and dense forests to get lost in. It takes a lot of effort to ride natural terrain in Vermont, but I love the process. Finding new places to ride is always worth it, and these are often the moments that inspire me to take photos.
"Even after so many years of documenting snowboarding in Vermont, I still find inspiration in the landscape."
Sometimes the best images reveal themselves when I least expect them, like the sun breaking through the clouds after a storm, or unexpected snow squalls. That’s why I always carry a point and shoot, and recently that's been a film camera instead of my Sony RX100. I really enjoy the simplicity and ease of riding without a backpack weighed down with my DSLR. And, certain scenes just look better to me on film.
Objects like old lifts, retro ski houses, trail signs, etc give me a nostalgic feeling when photographed on film that, for whatever reason, doesn't translate through digital.
Recently, I have been experimenting with light leaks using my Canonet—after I take an image, I open the back of the camera inside my jacket to let in a small amount of light and then advance the film. The leaks give the images a surreal, dreamlike quality and can make a boring image more interesting with hints of glowing color.
Even after so many years of documenting snowboarding in Vermont, I still find inspiration in the landscape and in the people I surround myself with. Experimenting with film has helped me to see things in a new way and has allowed me to expand my creativity.
Here's to another 25 years of snowboarding in Vermont. And then maybe 25 more.