Billy Stevens shoots for the stars, sleds and scenic views in Nelson, B.C.

How to become a superb photo guru

by Kyle Born

Billy Stevens is usually the one shooting the photos. In this case, we get to see him in his natural habitat.
Billy Stevens is usually the one shooting the photos. In this case, we get to see him in his natural habitat. Jesse Benson photo

Nowadays, anyone can take a decent photo. Selfies at Times Square? Yawn. To stand out from the crowd, you’ve got to have an eye for the next rad shot and the know-how to make it look as jaw-droppingly stunning as humanly possible. Billy Stevens is the kind of next-level photographer whose pics draw gasps. His snowmobile skills are nothing to snuff at either.

Like any true professional, Stevens honed his photography proficiency over years of practice. For the past 20 years, Stevens has skied, snowboarded, snowmobiled and photographed through the boonies. Living in Nelson, B.C., Stevens couldn’t have had a prettier backdrop to shoot around.

“I take backcountry mountain scenery kind of shots,” said Stevens. “I’m out there every day, capturing the moment. People started recognizing it and it escalated from there.”

Everybody likes photos

Now that Stevens has built a reputation for himself as a superb photo guru, you might think he’d call the shots about where to ride and who to hang with. Nope.

“I go out with all different levels of sledders from pro riders to new riders,” he said. “I create friendships and like to see the progression at all levels. We all started somewhere.

“Beginner riders really appreciate seeing themselves and it amps them up. The pro riders get the shots published. Everybody really likes to get photos of themselves.”

This shot became the cover photo for SnoRiders winter 2018/2019.
This shot became the cover photo for SnoRiders winter 2018/2019. Photo courtesy Billy Stevens

The company Stevens keeps is as eclectic and varied as the locales they take him to.

“I go to the person’s area, so it’s all new to me,” Stevens said. “Sometimes I plan out a shot. Sometimes the riders are so impatient that you just have to go for it.”

Backcountry photography for dummies

Wanna step up your Instagram game? Take Stevens’ tips to become a picture-perfect photographer.

“Fresh powder makes for better carving shots,” Stevens said. “For less snow, get jumping shots.”

As far as what to bring with you when doing backcountry photography, Stevens has some advice.

Nelson, B.C., offers Billy Stevens ample opportunities to snap marvelous photos.
Nelson, B.C., offers Billy Stevens ample opportunities to snap marvelous photos. Photo courtesy Billy Stevens

“I carry my avalanche gear, cameras and lenses in my backpack,” said Stevens. “Everything else goes in my tunnel bag—my saw and all my safety gear. I also carry a small drone with me everywhere I go.”

Snowy sleepover

Stevens doesn’t take the Kootenays for granted. He lives in a beautiful spot and he knows it. One of the coolest ways that Stevens takes advantage of where he lives is by having overnight camping trips with friends.

“You wake up and there’s almost a metre of snow out,” he said. “We’re on top of the mountain in the middle of nowhere. We get a lot of snow in this area and nobody’s been here. Having the mountain at our back door makes it easy to access incredible areas that most people don’t get to see.”

If you’d like to see some of Stevens sweet shots, follow him on Instagram @Skid1.

Billy Stevens advised taking aerial shots when there isn’t fresh powder on the mountains.
Billy Stevens advised taking aerial shots when there isn’t fresh powder on the mountains. Photo courtesy Billy Stevens

ON OUR RAD RADAR:

Rider: Billy Stevens
Where: Nelson, B.C.
Occupation: Forest technician
Bragging rights: Backcountry photographer extraordinaire
Weapon of choice: 2019 Polaris 850
Local ride recommendation: Meadow Mountain. “It’s the best all-around area for everybody. There are open alpine meadows and you get some technical tree riding at the treeline. There’s a nice cabin there, Meadow Mountain Cabin. It’s probably about 60 years old. It’s an old-mining-days kind of cabin and it’s been refurbished into a warming-hut kind of cabin. It’s part of the Nelson Snowmobile Club.”

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