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Peaks and Passages: Leslie and Sophie

Peaks and Passages: Leslie and Sophie

Go behind the scenes with two of the most talented photographers/filmers in the ski industry.

In the first episode of Peaks and Passages, a new video series by KGB Productions and supported by Flylow, skiers and filmers/photographers Sophie Danison and Leslie Hittmeier talk about mentorship, community, and chasing your dreams—despite how impossible that may seem from the get go. The episode was shot last winter in Cooke City, Montana, and also includes shots on location in Canada.

In the episode, Danison and Hittmeier talk about how the field of ski filming and photography used to be a lot more closed off—people didn’t share information or welcome newcomers like they do now. “In the time that we’ve grown our careers, we’ve been really lucky to find a bunch of quality, amazing mentors,” Hittmeier says in the episode. “There’s a wealth of information sharing in our field, as long as you have community. And we’re lucky enough to have it.” Adds Danison, “It’s so huge to be on a team with people who believe in you.”

Danison is a freelance cinematographer and photographer, based mostly in Victor, Idaho. She’s held a lot of mountain-town jobs—ski instructor, river guide—but her goal was always to make a living doing full-time creative work. It didn’t happen overnight, but these days, that’s exactly what she’s doing. She was director of photography and lead editor and producer of “Nexus,” a women’s ski film (that was also produced entirely by women) that won best storytelling at the International Freeski Film Festival in 2022. Danison was also cinematographer and photographer for a 2023 film called “Going Greenland” about a climate-driven sail-and-ski expedition to the Arctic.

“When I first got a window into the ski industry, I was like, oh wow, there’s so much going on here that people don’t know anything about,” Danison says. “I think it’s important that as many people as possible recognize themselves in the outdoors.”

Hittmeier, who got her start as a magazine editor out of college, has filmed for everyone from TGR to HBO and made a name for herself as one of the most talented filmers and storytellers in the outdoor industry. She co-directed and produced a 2020 film called “Pretty Strong,” which followed some of the top women climbers in the world.

In order to capture mountain expeditions and elite ski athletes in remote locales, you have to stay one step ahead, and Danison and Hittmeier are both talented mountain athletes in their own right, lugging heavy camera equipment along the same routes as the athletes they’re shooting. “That’s one of my favorite things about this job: We get to play in these beautiful places and be creative,” says Danison. “But we also get to connect with these amazing people.”

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