Leading Ladies, 4: Ski photographers

Female ski photographers are a rare breed, indeed. Case in point: It took weeks for us to find the 10 you see featured here. But we dug deep and got in touch with female photographers everywhere from the French Alps to New Zealand, including a woman who shoots sharks while freediving, a pro snowboarder who turned to photography, and a Scottish movie set designer turned action sports photographer. Read below to learn their stories and check out their images in this gallery. Launch Gallery»

Elina Sirparanta
Elina Sirparanta grew up in the Finnish countryside and later moved to the French Alps, where she got her first camera and started shooting skiing, eventually capturing enough images to publish a book, Gravity, in 2008. "What I like most about photographing skiing," she says, "is making something out of a natural shape or an urban structure and combining it with a great athletic performance."

Melody Sky
"I feel privileged to be able to catch the moment and tell a story with just a single frame. It's recording history," says Switzerland-based photographer Melody Sky, who's launching a new website of her work next month. She started as an underwater photographer in the tropics and eventually moved to the mountains. Melody has filmed freestyle television programs and annual ski films that are broadcast worldwide. Now, she's getting back into underwater photography and she's begun photographing sharks while freediving.

Sasha Coben
Currently based out of Lake Tahoe, Sasha Coben focuses on nature and adventure photography. Last winter, she shot various stops on the Freeskiing World Tour. "When shooting skiing I look to capture the love that the athletes have for their sport," Coben says. "When an athlete really believes in what they are doing it shows in the peak of their performance, whether it be hucking off a huge cliff or pulling off a stylish new trick."

Re Wikstrom
"When I really took a look around and noticed the lack of women featured in ski photos, I decided I wanted to be a part of the solution," says Re Wikstrom, who now shoots primarily with female athletes. She got her start by interning with Powder and Bike, then she moved to Utah and started shooting big-mountain comps. Now, she's an established pro and an in-house photographer for Backcountry.com. Her tips on photography? "Be a passionate nerd. Beware the bull's-eye syndrome. Be your own worst critic. Shoot the crap out of everything. Find your own niche. And learn to edit tightly."

Erin Valverde Pollard
Erin Valverde Pollard may be best known in the ski industry as pro skier Eric Pollard's wife. But in the snowboard world, Erin made a name for herself as a pro rider. She officially stopped riding pro in 2008 and took on the gig of being a videographer and photographer for Nimbus Independent, a company co-founded by Eric Pollard and others. Now, Oregon-based Erin travels the world shooting both still images and video. "I have a system on the motion camera where I can mount my still camera on top and take still photos with a trigger," Valverde Pollard says. "But it's hard to focus on pushing the trigger to take the stills and also zooming in and out with the motion, and not wanting to miss a shot."

Camilla Stoddart
Scotland native Camilla Stoddart was recently honored as one of the top photographers at the Red Bull Illume Contest. After attending art school in London for set design (she wanted to be a production designer for big-budget feature films), she moved to Wanaka, New Zealand, to became a full-fledged action sports photographer. "New Zealand is such an amazing area to be in being an adventure photographer -- there's never a dull moment here," Stoddart says.

Amy McDermid
After graduating from the University of Victoria with an art history degree, Amy McDermid was given a digital SLR camera to capture her various adventures. Now she lives in Whistler and spends her time skiing, mountain biking and working as an action sports photographer. "I find with the introduction of really high-quality affordable cameras, it gets increasingly difficult to make a living as a photographer, but it's fun to try," McDermid says.

Krystle Wright
Over the past few years, Australian photographer Krystle Wright has shot everywhere from Canada's Baffin Island, to Fiji, Nepal, China, Japan, Indonesia and beyond. She's shot hiking in the Arctic, skiing in New Zealand and swimming amongst eight-foot waves at G-Land. "I hope that my photos can showcase an intimate view into that particular sport and allow the viewer to experience a world they may not have been previously been exposed to," Wright says.

Myriam Lang-Willar
Myriam Lang-Willar is a Swiss photographer who lives in Verbier. Like many photographers, shooting started as a passion, and then turned into a career. Skiing has always been her thing. "For the past 14 years, I have been able to travel the world to the best mountain ranges to capture the sport I love most," she says.

Anna De Masi
Park City, UT-based photographer Anna De Masi worked as Skullcandy's staff photographer for five years. In 2009, she was the only female to be invited to the Jon Olsson Super Sessions as a photography competitor and she's had shots published in magazines around the U.S., Europe, Australia and Japan. She also organizes the Queen's Cup Open, the first all women's ski event.

Launch Full Gallery»