Max Lowe is a photographer, cinematographer, film director and storyteller from Bozeman, Montana. His career was kick-started in 2012 when he was awarded a National Geographic Young Explorers Grant. Max has gone on to forge an adventurous path, melding his own unique aesthetic into documentaries, photographs and branded film projects highlighting extraordinary people, sports and culture in all corners of the globe.
Today, we’re digging into a few of Max’s favorite memories, captured in the photographic medium.
1. This is a picture from my first trip to Japan. We were chasing the famed January conditions on Hokkaido that are created by a perfect infusion of cold arctic wind blowing in from the Siberian Peninsula and warm moist air coming from the Sea of Japan. It was a dream experience that remains nestled in the back of my mind as one of the most amazing ski trips of my life. We were there with no agenda, purely seeking fun exploration with an all-time crew of friends. Our crew of eight people spent the better part of a month driving around Hokkaido in a 4x4 van, chasing storms, eating sushi and ramen to our hearts’ content, and wrapping each day in the public bath houses called “Onsen.” Pictured here, my friend Laura Yale skins up the flanks of Mount Yōtei as the sun ignites a flurry of crystals buzzing in the air around us. This particular morning was one of the most remarkable that I recall from the trip.
2. A few years back I had the distinct pleasure of executing a dream trip with two close friends, Johan Jonsson and Marcus Caston, touring around the fjordlands of southern Norway, skiing whatever we wished, wherever we saw promise. The contrast of huge, rolling snowy mountains rising straight out of the sea presented an opportunity to capture remarkable imagery. This image of Marcus cutting a turn into a massive, wide open slope on the edge of a mountain's shadow is one of my favorites from the trip.
3. The several hut trips I have been lucky enough to experience have been, and will always remain some of my most special memories entwined with skiing. This year, to ring in 2020, we gathered a group of friends at Golden Alpine Holidays’ Meadow Hut, one of the highest alpine lodges in Canada. We skied and reveled in each other’s company amid the peaceful, stunning setting, making for a dreamy week of powdery bliss. On top of it all we carried in about $400 worth of fireworks to make the New Year celebration extra memorable. As we toured back to the hut after a long, awesome day in the mountains, my buddy Forest Woodward thought it would be fitting to test out a couple of Roman candles, casting our cabin home and our group of friends in the warm glow of fire on the mountain.
4. On a trip to the Sunrise Hut in Northeastern B.C., this ridgeline loomed above the cabin, almost taunting us — not skiable because of low visibility and high avalanche danger. In a stroke of good luck the conditions turned on our last day. The sun popped through the clouds, illuminating the high alpine. And we seized the moment. Duncan and Tim made a run for the high ridge. I couldn't decide where to shoot photos from, but I saw this image in my mind and reckoned that if the sun poked through the shifting clouds at just the right moment, while Duncan dropped in, it would result in a worthy shot. Shooting skiing is constant chaos: the combination of moving through mountain landscapes, coordinating with athletes, battling the elements. It feels like a small miracle when everything comes together. This was one of those moments when all the stars aligned, and is thus painted vibrantly in my memory.
5. Many of my favorite skiing moments are tied to human interactions, and this image records one such memory. I don't recall the woman’s name but we spoke for a minute as we stood in line to purchase lift tickets at the mom and pop ski area, Lost Trail, in southwest Montana. She joked that the mountain hadn't changed much since she started skiing there in 1963, and that even though she couldn’t move quite the way she did in her 20s, she was having just as much fun at 79 years young.
6. Oh what it was to be a kid growing up in a ski town. I cherish my parents' guided efforts to get me out on the slopes not long after I learned to walk, shuttle me to ski lessons and suffer the constant complaints about cold hands and toes. This portrait of a young ripper in training, tucking it up the magic carpet at Maverick Mountain in southwest Montana, brings me back.