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Photographer’s Self Portrait: Lance Koudele

Nov 9, 2009

Author: words and photos by Lance Koudele

"I never got bound up in the technicalities of what was right and wrong. I was free to focus on what interested me in my own way." —Lance Koudele

I kinda fell into photography by accident. I was studying film at the Art Institute Of Portland and took some photography classes on the side from a teacher I really respected—he was definitely a mentor in many aspects. After graduation I kept shooting and slowly doors kept opening and I found I actually enjoyed it more than film.
    I was educated in digital media at the Art Institute of Portland. That was definitely helpful. From the technical side to the more demanding realm of actually running a business, all aspects were covered. The good part was that as I focused more on film, it let me not take photography so seriously so I never got bound up in the technicalities of what was right and wrong. I was free to focus on what interested me in my own way.
    I got into shooting kiteboarding when I moved to the gorge in 2002. I blew my ACL that summer—I was wrecked from kiting but managed to stay a part of it and be stoked by taking photos. After completely rebuilding both knees, a shoulder, and a number of other injuries I knew it was time to move on from the competitive side of sports and into the realm of creatively capturing the essence of why we do it.
    My first published shot was of Dave Tyburski doing a S-Bend at the sandbar. I remember donating the paycheque to Outside In, a group dedicated to helping street youth in Portland. I wanted my photography to be about creating positive change straight from the start. I used the term Ion Imagery to describe my work—an ion being the molecular foundation of change. I wanted my media to inspire and challenge the status quo, to reconnect people with the spirit of the elements.
    I kinda just spent time on the beach shooting and kiting as much as possible. As opposed to breaking into a scene I’d say I melded with it and in some ways supported what existed. Locals Joby Cook and Dylan Thompson have been doing what they’ve been doing ever since I’ve know them. It’s great that they and wakestyle are now getting the respect they deserve.
    I think people would be surprised to know that being a good photographer means you’re a good problem-solver more than anything. From gear issues to personality or travel conflicts, the good shot comes from someone who can work through anything with a stoke to share. People skills are a must—pushing the shutter button is probably less than 10 per cent of what I do.
    Most top-level pros get there because they are inspirational people besides being talented athletes. It is a totally awesome experience to meet kiters from around the globe and find that connection that binds. From Ben Wilson, Ruben Lenten, Youri Zoon to Joby, and Dylan. Each person expresses themselves with a unique style. Although I still get the most stoke from the newbie on the water who just learned to stay upwind, or the old local still out past sunset having an epic soul session. They are probably more important to keeping me grounded and stoked as a kiter.
    There have been a number of wayward travels over the years. Usually those are only funny after it’s over, but I love how crazy shit happens on the road. Maybe the one that stands out is the time I caught dengue fever in Puerto Rico and the Center for Disease Control didn’t know what it was—there hadn’t been a case of Dengue in like 20 years. The time I was heliboarding with Jeremy Jones in Switzerland and I rode down the wrong side of the peak is another fond one... I was walking through fields with horned cows and bells forever, trying to find some clue as to where I was. I was, by the way, in a completely different country.
    In many ways the Internet is making it easier for voice of truth to be heard. People who have a unique style and vision are now able to get their imagery out to the world quicker and for less money. On the downside it definitely clouds the market with a million more photographers who just picked up the latest DSLR and want to be called professional. It’s becoming harder to make a living doing it for sure.
    I can see the disappearance of print completely for news-related media. I think there will always be room for quality writing and photography, however, in some form, there is something very satisfying about physically holding some media in the hands and turning pages that the Web can’t match.
    My goals personally for the coming year are to travel and to kite/surf as much as possible. Professionally I want to push creative kite imagery further—I would rather fail trying to shoot something with a unique view than get the same tried and tired image. Ultimately I want to inspire others to get out and experience for themselves the power of being in nature. There is a spiritual side to the elements that really keeps me grounded. I think a lot of people today could really use a strong dose of it.

Lance’s Gear
Canon 1ds mark 2
Canon 1d mark 2
Canon G9

15mm f/2.8
16-35 f/2.8 L
50mm f/1.2 L
70-200mm f/2.8L IS
400mm f/5.6L

SPL Camera/Pocketwizard Housing
Ewa-Marine Housing
Custom Flash Housings

Profoto 7B Strobe and Ringflash
3x Flashpoint 1220 Strobes
Canon 580, 550, Vivitar 285 Flashes
Quantum Turbo Battery

MacPro 2x 2.66 GHz Dual-Core Intel Xeon with 5GB RAM
2.16 Intel Duo MacBook Pro


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