In 1994, Powder magazine senior photographer Christian Pondella was just another West Coast sports photographer looking for some powder turns and a bigger paycheck. One faithful day he found both while riding Chair 22 in Mammoth Mountain, California, with a fellow powder hound. His lift buddy? 20-year Powder photo editor David Reddick. The two hit it off and Christian started submitting his photos to Powder on a regular basis. These days, Pondella consistently risks his body to get shots that are renowned throughout the ski industry, making him one of the biggest names out there—all thanks, in part, to that fortuitous day in Mammoth.
In honor of this story, camera gear company F-Stop dedicated an episode of its series “Life in Focus” to documenting how the action photographer got his start. The tale is hope-inspiring for all the up-and-comers out there. Check it out and see what it’s like to turn your mountain lifestyle into a mountain livelihood.