“If you don’t get a photo of a rider the first time you may not get a second chance.” Bradlee Rutledge
Spending all your money straight out of high school on a digital camera to shoot you and your wake skating buddies sounds like something your parents would try and talk you out of. But when you are Bradlee Rutledge, it’s cool.
How long have you been shooting wakeboarding for?
I’ve worked nearly three years shooting wakeboarding.
Was photography something you were into from a young age?
Not really. I got a video camera for my 15th birthday but never put it to use. Then my Grandfather gave me some film cameras he had that I shot with a few times. After that, I saved all the money I had after graduating high school to buy my first digital camera and began shooting my friends who I wakeskated with. I followed the normal path my freshman year of college, but quickly realized I was miserable and changed what I was doing. I committed to going to school for photography and the rest is history, as they say.
Do you edit video, or do you just focus on photos?
I shoot a lot more video than I edit. I think now-a-days you have to be able to do both. Even if you don’t edit video, being able to shoot video is important. I edit roughly two-to-three videos a year. If you’re able to shoot photo and video, you’re way more valuable than if you are only one sided.
Best riders to work with on a photo?
Aaron Rathy was one of the easiest riders to work with. He knows what he wants in a photo and it’s a collaboration between rider and photographer. It’s always easier working with riders who have an idea for a trick in mind. Riders and photographers sometimes have different ideas for how things will work, so when you blend the two the end result is insane — in the best possible way.
Favorite place you traveled this year?
The Philippines by far is the best place I’ve been to this year. The setup that Migz and LRay have built is an insane playground for wakeboaders and wakeskaters. Add to that the beautiful scenery, from the waterfalls to the beaches and the people. I’m hoping to go back again this year for even longer.
“Traveling with wakeboarders is always a mess. Usually someone books a flight to the wrong city. Then someone’s bag doesn’t show up. Someone else misses the flight. Or someone forgets their wallet.”
Tell us about traveling with wakeboarders?
Traveling with wakeboarders is always a mess. Usually someone books a flight to the wrong city. Then someone’s bag doesn’t show up. Someone else misses the flight. Or someone forgets their wallet. Some of the best stories from trips comes from the random stuff that happens traveling though.
What is the B&W challenge?
From what I have heard the five-day Black & White photo challenge was started to raise awareness for legendary snowboard photographer Chris Brunkhart who was diagnosed with cancer.
Do you have any good party photos of riders that you should share with us?
😉 You know who you are.
Would you prefer shooting cable, boat or winch?
I would say rail riding is what I like to shoot the most. Whether it’s jetski, winching or cable, it’s way more enjoyable to shoot rail riding. Orlando kills the stoke of shooting boat for me — it’s the same thing every time you go shoot. Rider above the tree, in focus and good light. When travel, I make a point to shoot boat because the scenery is so much better than Florida lakes.
Who would you say you shoot photos of the most?
It’s hard to pick one person in particular. I like shooting the younger generation of riders. There are so many dudes out there hustling and doing insane things that no one pays attention to. The same photo of the same guy runs year after year, even though so many other people are doing way cooler things. For me, getting these guys the exposure they deserve is the best, so they’re my favorite to work with.
“I like watching a rider free ride before I ever go shoot with them. Every rider has strengths and weaknesses, and it’s good to know what they are so you can get the most out of the shoot.”
Do you like to work with a rider on a plan before going into a shoot? Or do you like to just stand back a capture what happens?
I like watching a rider free ride before I ever go shoot with them. Every rider has strengths and weaknesses, and it’s good to know what they are so you can get the most out of the shoot. I have been known to stand back and lurk a lot while shooting though haha. But I do like to go into a shoot with a couple of tricks in mind though, that I know we will get something.
Do you like to use Flash or Natural more often then not?
Natural light is by far my favorite to shoot with, especially afternoon light. Flash is awesome to work with because it can let you shoot even if the light’s bad, but the vibrance and warmth natural light has will always be my favorite.
Do you find some riders care more about shooting video than stills?
Some riders definitely focus on video more than photos. I’ve been out before and shot photos of someone, but then focused only on video for the next rider because that’s all they care about. That’s why it’s important to shoot both: having one person out to shoot is way easier then a photo and video guy who have two different visions of what should be going down.
Best wake trick you shot in 2014?
I would say Massi’s truck driver backroll. The kid has been on fire this year and really made a name for himself.
Best rail hit you shot?
Yan Tibo in the Philippines for sure. We got this photo first try, which was the craziest part.
Do you ever get stressed out about getting the shot?
Shooting can get extremely stressful at times. The first time you shoot with a rider is the most stressful for me. They have seen what you’re capable of doing, so you don’t want to disappoint. If you don’t get a photo of a rider the first time you may not get a second chance. Boat photo shoots are expensive between gas for the boat and chase boat, so you don’t want to end up with nothing.
What new rider that you shot in 2014, was killing it?
Ben Leclair has been on fire this year! Also Blake Bishop, who’s a grom, has been getting peoples attention this year. He’s only 16 but he is definitely the future of rail riding.
How can we get you to submit more photos to Union? Because we love them.
Thanks guys! I try to shoot as much as I can because I am still in college. Thankfully I only have a few more months left until I Graduate and can shoot more. It is extremely difficult being in college and trying to shoot wakeboarding because our job revolves around the weather. It’s awesome Union has devoted a Magazine to just the US though — it was needed. You guys will definitely be seeing more of my photos coming your way.
For more head to http://www.bradleerutledge.com