Wade McKoy is Jackson Hole’s original ski photographer.
Photo by Ryan Dorgan
NOWADAYS THERE ARE about as many adventure photographers living and working in Jackson Hole as there are mountains surrounding the valley. Wade McKoy was the first though. “I started with a hand crank camera,” he says. “The next year I got an auto winder that went 2.5 frames per second, and that was like magic.” It was the mid-’70s and McKoy had recently moved to Jackson to learn how to ski; he had his first photograph published in Powder magazine in 1976 or 1977. A couple of years later, McKoy shot a feature for Powder. “They had told me they were going to hold it a year, but late one season a friend comes walking up to me in the base area with his copy of the magazine opened to the lead spread of the article and I just about fell down,” McKoy says. “I was so happy I started jumping up and down.”
More than forty years later, McKoy has lost count of how many of his images have been published in magazines, ad campaigns, catalogs, and online. He has traveled to China, Alaska, South America, India, and Europe writing about and shooting ski mountaineering expeditions. He still loves making photos in Jackson Hole though. “This is a great factory for beautiful images; it’s got all the elements—terrain, snow, and athletes, and now, more photographers than just me. I was lucky to be here when no one else was here and I don’t take that for granted. That was a blessing, and I fully embrace all the great shooters and great skiers we have now. There is certainly more than enough terrain to go around.” Here McKoy, who founded the annual skiing-centric magazine The Village Focus with Bob Woodall in 1983 (they changed its name to Jackson Hole Skier in 1987), shares some of his favorite Jackson Hole images and the stories behind them.