Bruce Benedict: Vision in a blizzard (of AAHHHs)

Desert Rats
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skiingʼs killer clowns
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The Cham Gang - Late Off the Mountain
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Scotty Kennett
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“I shouldn’t be doing what I’m doing,” quips photographer Bruce Benedict. He equates himself to an athlete who breaks a record after doctors said he’d never walk again. “That’s the way I am with my eyeballs. The worse I see, the better I shoot.”

Judging by the images he produces, that statement would make him practically blind. Benedict is currently one of the best and most sought-after automotive photographers in the business, with a client list that includes Kia, Honda, Jaguar, Volvo, and Lamborghini, to name a few.

Multi-talented, Benedict’s skills and interests don’t end at cars. He’s played concert piano (“It was never a source or income, nor was it ever going to be a livelihood,” he says), he holds a black belt in Taekwondo, was the director of photography or a camera operator on a number of different films, commercials and TV shows, and won an Emmy with MTV Sports. He’s also allegedly fantastic on a pair of skates—ice or roller.

His start, however, was in skiing. A former ski instructor and river guide, Benedict was behind the lens for many of the most iconic moments from the sport’s glory days a generation ago. He was a principal cinematographer for Greg Stump throughout the 1980s, working on all of his films prior to 1990’s “Dr. Strangeglove” (which, coincidentally or not, many core skiers consider Stump’s shark-jump); he released his own film in 1993 called “SnoWhat?,” which won the International Ski Film Festival; and he documented the era in still photography for every major ski publication at the time.

“Several things set him apart from most serious, artsy, famous photographers,” says Neil Stebbins, the editor of Powder magazine from 1975 to 1986, and a frequent partner-in-crime of Benedict’s. “Namely, he is incredibly easy-going, a pleasure to work with. Nothing is ever a crisis. [He has] a good sense of humor, too.”

That laid-back nature and sense of humor are evident in his work, which provides as clear a vision of skiing’s hot dog era as there is.

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