by Catie Collins
On June 9, Ontario native and professional photographer Blake Jorgenson was hired to shoot games five and seven of the Stanley Cup Finals for the Vancouver Canucks. Best known for his photography of park and backcountry skiing, Blake has also shot at major sporting events like the Olympics and X games. We caught up with him to discuss his hockey experience and shooting the Stanley Cup Finals.
Were you bummed that the Canucks lost game 6, or are you excited because you get to shoot game 7?
Yeah [laughs], I was pretty excited because I get to shoot game 7.
What was your reaction when the Canucks offered you the gig?
I was really excited, and it was good timing.
How did you get the job?
It was also the same people I worked with at the Olympics, so that was how I got hooked up with the job. But we are working to put together a coffee table book, so it's really going to tell a story.
Have you ever shot hockey before?
No, I have never even seen a game before [laughs].
What's the atmosphere like at the Stanley Cup playoffs?
It's super crazy—there's so much going on and so much to shoot. I will be half in the stadium shooting stuff and the there is exciting crazy stuff happening outside the stadium that I have to shoot. I was right behind the goalie too, so I was getting crazy footage and then I would go outside and shoot the thousands of people in the street.
This isn't your first time shooting a large sporting event. What would you say the difference is between shooting the Olympics or X games and shooting the NHL finals?
I think it's just a much, much bigger scale. There will be 20,000 people inside the stadium and then 100,000 people outside the stadium and at the same time the game going on. There's so much to shoot and this is such a big event up here.
How is the intensity for the Stanley Cup different than events you've done in the past?
In this neck in the woods, it's the biggest thing. Whereas in the States, hockey is not nearly as big. Everyone up here is going crazy over this.
Is the interaction with the athletes different than say an X games shoot?
I don't know any of the Canucks, but I am still able to communicate with them and get as close as I would at X games. But at the X games, I know a lot of the different athletes so I can get really personal. At the game, I can still get really close to the athletes. The only thing that is tough about the X Games, is that they cram you into such a small space. Whereas here, I can wander around to get all the shots that I want. The one major difference is the Stanley Cup is extremely well organized for how large an event it is.
Were you able to move around the rink to get better angles or were you pretty restricted as to where you could move?
It really wasn't a restricted job. I was supposed to shoot the moments behind the moments, not just the action of the game. So I was supposed to be getting the game, the crowd in the arena, and then everything that was going on outside. I would be inside right behind the glass, then in the crowd, back on the ice and then outside getting the emotion outside. It wasn't just about getting shots of the game; it was about getting a story. So it really was more editorial photography because it really had to speak and say something.
Overall is it a fun event to be shooting?
Super fun. The majority of the shots I produce myself and all I have to do is show up and take the pictures and experience the event.
What differences are there between shooting a hockey game and a backcountry shoot?
Backcountry or any other shoot in nature you are in control other than Mother Nature, of course. Where in these situations, everything continues to happen even when you aren't ready and aren't focused. So you really have to be paying attention because at any moment you could miss something. That was what has been hard has been the continuous action.
Is it harder shooting hockey than skiing?
Hockey is harder to get great shots and make something that you haven't already seen. Shooting in backcountry, you're always having to get more creative ways to get certain shots, but you are able to manipulate things and wait until you're ready. Where like I said before, hockey is always going even if you aren't ready.
How do you think this opportunity will affect your career?
No idea. It’s good to know there is more out there than skiing for me to shoot. But I love skiing and will always shoot skiing.