As part of Visit California’s on-going marketing promotions, the nonprofit organization is producing an on-going original series titled “California Dreamers.” The series features short episodes looking at Californians pursuing their dreams and ambitions in The Golden State.
Over the last five years, San Diego-based photographer Myles McGuinness has had the good fortune to travel up and down the state shooting the campaign, witnessing people from all walks of life putting in the time and effort to realize their aspirations. One such figure Myles was able to meet was American Snowboarder Chloe Kim, who just won her first gold medal at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in the Halfpipe contest.
Myles partnered with Red Hydrant Productions and director, Warren Kushner of K Films, who were shooting the video segment of the assignment, to illustrate Chloe’s story. The shoot took place in May using Mammoth Mountain as the backdrop, a literal and figurative reminder of the uphill battle the 17-year-old faced in the months leading up to the Olympics. The plan was to explore Chloe’s story and her extraordinary relationship with her father, Jong Jin Kim.
I enjoyed listening to Chloe’s stories about growing up snowboarding as a kid and the long journeys to Mammoth. Her father would load her up in the car in the middle of the night still sleeping and drive 5 hours, then she would wake up at Mammoth. Then repeat each weekend. Talk about a dedicated Dad. They share a special bond for sure.
Her dad was instrumental in supporting her all the way through, learning to snowboard with her at the age of 4 and then quitting his job when Chloe was just 8 to make sure her snowboarding career would be her top priority, day and night. It all paid off with Chloe winning gold at the Winter X Games when she was just 16, and now, close to a year after Myles’ Mammoth Mountain shoot, winning gold at the Olympics.
Myles himself had some challenges on the shoot, though. None of which matched the proportions of Chloe’s. Upon the slopes of Mammoth, he had to remind himself to stay hydrated, especially with all that frozen water around him. The snow also acted as an uber-powerful mirror, and sunscreen was Myles’ best defense against it. In addition, working with the video crew required some bobbing and weaving on his part to avoid any mishaps and accidents. A cameraman falling down the slopes is the last thing anyone had in mind, a fate avoided by Myles familiarity with the director and director of photography from past projects.
Besides the minor concerns, the shoot was full of enjoyable moments thanks to the people and Mother Nature’s splendor all around.
May in Mammoth with lots of sun and snow. Great location, amazing people with lots of laughs. Most of the day we were either on skis or snowboards, so no complaints here. Watching the crew push Jong Jin back up the hill to reset between takes was certainly entertaining. And Chloe’s ever-present smile was infectious to all within sight.
It’s definitely one of Myles’ favorite California Dreamers projects and his social media accounts would agree. The response to the images has been positive, and his Instagram is “blowing up.” That’s always a good sign. He’s already looking forward to the next Dreamers project, but it’s hard to say if anything would match this one.
I treasure the shots as a reminder to take to the mountain of life with ambition while remaining grounded in gratitude for the people we love – for the ones who bring fulfillment and meaning to our journey.