Checking in with Blotto Photto

23 Feb, 2010

Working in the snowboard industry is having the best of both worlds but few people give a glimpse into the behind the scenes of what it takes to live, work and play in this industry. Blotto is one of those rare industry individuals who is sharing his stories, travels and skills inside his world of being Burton’s principal photographer.

When I first stumbled across Blotto’s website, Blotto Photto, I was amazed at the effort and the articulate work that Blotto was bringing to the masses. His writing has a clear voice that draws you into the conversation while his photos give you insight into the picture making you feel like you are there with him along the journey.

I caught up with Dean Blotto Gray to find out more about how he started his site, what it means to be Burton’s principal photographer and what his future adventures are coming up.


Shay: Blottophotto gives readers an in-depth look into your work within the snowboard industry and photography, did you go into documenting your experiences with a plan or just figured it out as you went?
Blotto: Before I launched blottophotto 2.0 (July 2008), I knew exactly what I wanted to accomplish, but had to take that year of using 2.0 to figure out the most effective website design. 2.0 contained all the columns, updates and pictures needed, but the amount of scrolling around was unbearable for most, especially those using iPhone. Once I sat down to design and launch 3.0, which is the current version, I knew exactly what was needed.

From a content point of view, I wanted to show the travel, the set-up and the behind the scenes images that go into documenting snowboarding. Snowboarding publications have very little page count to feature these types of images, so this is the perfect outlet to use most of my B-Roll shots. At the same time, it’s been an excellent forum for teaching photography/snowboarding/bicycle enthusiasts about taking pictures and using gear.

Shay: Why did you start your blog and how often do you spend updating your blog?
Blotto: I started the blog so I could publish more of the images I capture; and as you said, give readers an “in-depth look into my work.” I spend roughly 30-45 minutes each evening on a blog, which includes the photo editing and verbage.

Shay: Your bio states over 290 days on snow each year, do you still feel passionate about snowboarding when it’s your job to continually travel and work for it?
Blotto: Skateboarding started my snowboarding life, being able to document the shred around the world is a dream come true. I’m as passionate about traveling and snowboarding right now, as I was when I started.

Shay: How did you become Burton’s principal photographer and what experiences helped drive your photography skills?
Blotto: I was hired in as Team Manager in 1999 with background skills that included photography, cinematographer, video editing, photo editing and marketing. It was a natural transition to Principal Photographer in 2003.

The endless creativity that skateboarding and snowboarding offer, along with the individuals who take part inspire my drive as a photographer. These elements help me to progress and stay stoked.

Blotto by Jeremy Jones

Shay: What does it mean to be Burton’s principal photographer? Are you able to work with riders from other brands?
Blotto: The photographer role at Burton means a lot of work and travel, which is totally fine by me. Burton has endless photographic needs from their team riders, so the assignments roll in non-stop. It’s totally possible to shoot with non-Burton riders, but the truth of the matter is I’m so consumed with the Burton marketing needs I rarely have time to shoot the other guys. If I’m out with an independent film crew documenting one of our riders, that creates opportunity to photograph the entire crew.

Shay: Is your work with Burton separate from your blog? Do they have any control in what you show or say online?
Blotto: My website is based around my photography and travel, and most of that is with Burton and their team riders. It’s two completely different companies, but we work very well together and there’s a mutual trust with what we say, do and photograph.

Shay: What future trips/plans are you looking forward to in the next year?
Blotto: I’m currently making plans for a Japan photo shoot with Snowboarder Magazine (USA); we’ll be out there for a week’s time to see what the snowpack is all about in 2010. After Japan I’ll be back in the European or US mountains followed by some man-made features during the spring. Once summer rolls around I’ll continue to ‘up my days’ documenting the track bike revolution in various cities.

Shay: How many days on-snow are you at so far this year?
Blotto: From December 1st through today (Feb 21st), I’d say at least 80.

Shay: Thanks Blotto!

About the author


From the beginning of time, I was Shannon. From the beginning of snowboarding, I was Shay. From the beginning of online communities, I was Shayboarder. In the end, I’m the writer, photographer, editor, publisher, guru of sorts, product tester, curvy girl, and most importantly the snowboarder behind it all. Follow me on this journey through snowboarding, mountain biking, traveling and fun experiences!

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