In addition to running around the expo for three days straight which was nothing short of exhausting, I was lucky enough to hang out at Snowbird with my friend Bill, spend a few days at the house of some rad friends of Megs and Jules, eat some bomb Indian food at the Himalayan House and lust over gorgeous French pastries at Gourmandise. I also learned to pogo stick with no hands at the SheJumps Happy Hour, saw my friend Laura who I used to work with at REI (and now works for Patagonia), and bought multiple amazing steel beer cups, none of which managed to make it home with me.

I also feel fortunate to have spoken briefly with Jay Beyer, who agreed to do so after I sent him an email that basically said, “I am an aspiring photographer and the photographer I aspire to be is you. Please don’t think that’s weird.”

His path into photography was fairly similar to mine and in short, I sometimes feel like I am putting too much pressure on myself to get better, faster.  I wanted to know 1) a realistic timeline of how he got to the point he is now and 2) where I should be focusing my energy regarding turning photography into a career rather than a hobby.  While I have a very clear idea of what it will take for me to become more proficient at the craft, I wasn’t sure what the best approach was regarding breaking into the outdoor retail industry.

Jay was full of information and provided some clear guidance.  In short: don’t mess around with magazines (they don’t pay and you don’t need tear sheets),  build your portfolio, don’t rely on friends as athletes, get up earlier, find a small company to partner with that you can grow together, don’t give away your photos for free.   Plan of attack: spend the next year working on my portfolio and return to outdoor retailer to talk with the marketing managers at each booth.

I took a ton of product photos at the event, most of which you can check out in my posts for Tahoe South.  Here’s the rest of them.

Want to go to Winter Outdoor Retailer?

Good luck getting in.  You either need to be employed by an Outdoor Retail Manufacturer or an Outdoor Retail Store that’s willing to send you, a member of the press, a brand sponsored pro athlete, or good enough friends with someone important that will provide you with a guest pass to get in.  If you do secure that pass and get to schmooze, drink and drool over the new gear coming out, here are my recommendations:

STAY: Airbmb has a ton of amazing options in Salt Lake, but I’m totally enamored with this historic mother-in-law unit that used to be a tailor shop.

EAT:

  • GourmandiseSeriously.  Every day.  For lunch also.  And desert.  Anytime, really.
  • Zest was a little hit or miss for us, but I think if you order right you’ll really enjoy it.  The cocktails (beet sangria!) totally stood out as clear winners here as well as the sliced cucumber w/ cashew chive cheese, the spinach salad and the pasta w/tomato sauce, spinach & kalamata olives.
  • Himalayan House is amazing Indian food.  Don’t skip the paneer chili or the momos.

SKI:

  • Snowbird Ski Resort has become one of my favorite mountains.  It has great steeps, gorgeous bowls and an amazing atmosphere.
  • Brighton and Solitude are great options for a smaller resort.  I loved Brighton’s hike-able in-bounds terrain when I was there.