When photographer Jordan Curet moved to Aspen 13 years ago, she had never skied or snowboarded—something one would never guess from her uniquely framed on-mountain images. With a degree in photojournalism and internships at The Oregonian and the Boulder Daily Camera, Curet, 34, established herself as a lenswoman early on. But it was moving to Aspen in 2006 and joining The Aspen Times as one of only two staff photographers that exponentially grew her repertoire. “The other newspapers I worked at were highly staffed with photographers for each department,” says Curet. “In Aspen, with only two of us, I instantly had to be good at everything.” From shooting breaking news to ridealongs with the fire department to portraits and events like the Dalai Lama meeting John McCain, Curet improved her skills, expanded her portfolio and developed a knack for finding new angles of covering annual events. In December, following a whim of inspiration, she shot a well-received long exposure of Summit for Life racers ascending Aspen Mountain from across the valley on Red Mountain. Curet photographs (and writes) for the Aspen Daily News, Aspen Skiing Company and a wide variety of outdoor brands, which allows her to shoot one of her new passions: fly-fishing.
Known as much for his affable personality and generous spirit as he is for his iconic images of Aspen and Snowmass, Jeremy Swanson, 48, has been a full-time photographer in the valley since 2005. His photos are synonymous with Aspen, as he shoots consistently and primarily for Aspen Skiing Company. With a Master of Fine Arts in theater, Swanson moved to Snowmass in 1999 to work in marketing and communications for Anderson Ranch Arts Center, where he took photography classes. He credits his ability to tell a story through a single image to his background in theater. “I view photography as a vehicle for storytelling—I’m trying to find an artistic and creative way to represent a day or an experience in one picture,” says Swanson. His photography spans seasons—fans eagerly anticipate his annual “first snow” image that often contrasts white peaks and golden aspens each fall—but expresses an affinity for winter. “I love what the snow does to simplify the landscape, and I love the human form in that landscape,” he says. “You see this little tiny skier in this expansive wilderness, and it reminds us how big these mountains are. That context puts any troubles in perspective.” Swanson also appreciates the collaborative efforts of shooting skiing and snowboarding: “Everyone from athletes I ride with to the creative director who secures access to ski patrol who set up and the cat drivers who groom at 2am,” says Swanson. “You get a lot of credit for the shot, but it’s so much about the group effort.”
It’s the classic Aspen story: A New England skier packs their Subaru with skis, a bike, $500 to their name and heads west. Matt Power, 47, would have ended up in Utah had he not stumbled upon a $300 room in Woody Creek en route. From 1994 to 2010, Power worked night shifts driving for The Gant and Smiddy Limo to leave his days free to ski and shoot. For the last eight years, he’s been a full-time photographer, recently shooting the majority of Aspen Skiing Company’s Give a Flake campaign. The world-class events coming through Aspen (from Winter X Games to cycling races to the Food & Wine Classic) and the talented pool of local athletes keep Power busy while staying close to home, his wife and his two children. The self-proclaimed Instagram junkie loves consuming images both in print and via social media, where he’ll draw inspiration from athletes and photographers in various action sports. “Powder days excite me the most,” says Power. “Compared to shooting something like mountain biking in the summer, powder images always look different. The texture varies and the light is always changing.” A perpetual student of photography, Power continues to adapt and evolve. “Every photo leads to your next photo,” he says. “When you hire a photographer, you’re paying for all their experience and their research and all the mistakes they’ve made along the way to arrive at this image.”
Aspen native Jesse Hoffman’s work and résumé belie his age. By 23, he bagged the cover of Ski magazine. Two years later, he placed runner-up in a prestigious adventure film contest for his first film, The Process, which examines the art of backcountry skiing and was shot in the Elk Mountains. At 27, he’s known as one of skiing’s finest up-and-coming photographers and directors—one who can move through the mountains safely and efficiently with camera gear. It all began with friend and mentor Chris Davenport inviting Hoffman to shoot his Ski With the Superstars Ski Camp in Portillo, Chile—an annual gig now for about eight years. Hoffman shoots for everyone from Aspen Skiing Company to CNN, and while he enjoys working behind any lens, it’s the motion picture that most interests him today. “Our lives are so saturated with photos that videos have become more powerful,” he says. What started as the hunt for the quintessential powder slash turn has evolved into a quest for timeless images by capturing the bigger picture rather than the obvious focal point. That’s meant slowing down and often eschewing social media (he deleted his Facebook account years ago and likens posting a photo on Instagram to driving a new car off the lot). “I’ve tried to slow down a little and not let the audience influence the photo I take,” says Hoffman.