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Mar 5, 2024 by Megan Michelson

Trade Secrets: Trade Secrets: Christian Pondella | Adapt to Changing Conditions

Featuring Adventure Photographer Christian Pondella

Home Base / Mammoth Lakes, California.

Activities / Backcountry skiing, climbing, road biking, exploring, fishing, paddleboarding.

Insider Knowledge

The big challenge with being an outdoor photographer—especially on the mountaintops where Christian Pondella shoots—is that you’re trying to capture action in snowy, windy conditions that are always changing. “You’ve got adverse conditions. You’ve got to be open-minded as to what’s going to happen when you go out in the mountains. You may have an objective or an idea for a photograph, but you’ve got to be able to adapt and change as situations present themselves,” says Christian. Instead of trying to direct a shot or have something specific in mind, he’ll just capture what he sees. “I try to be a fly on the wall, as opposed to always trying to stage things,” he says. “The mountains don’t care about our plans.”

Quick Tip

“Go light.” If he’s climbing and shooting on a technical mountain, Christian brings a small camera body with just one mid-range lens. “Some people think you need all this camera gear,” he says. “But if you’re running around deep in the mountains, you want to be lightweight and take full advantage of the camera and lens that you brought.”