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    FREERIDE WORLD TOUR x GORE-TEX BRAND - Behind the Scenes with Dom Daher

    Tom Hill
    Tom Hill

    Freelance writer and GORE-TEX Ambassador Tom Hill catches up with professional photographer Dom Daher at the start of the Freeride World Tour 2024 season, to discover what it takes to shoot the world’s best freeriders in some of the harshest conditions imaginable.


    GORE-TEX Brand is a proud sponsor of the Freeride World Tour. It’s not just the competitors that need durable, weatherproof protection, however. Dominque Daher has been shooting snowsports since the 90s, and knows the Freeride World Tour better than most; he was there with his camera at the first and has been a mainstay ever since. Who better to ask what it takes to get the shot time after time and how GORE-TEX technologies help him stay comfortable and safe on the mountain?


    “I’ve learned what works for me over the years. For as long as I can remember, GORE-TEX garments have been my outer layer of choice”.

    Dom protests against my suggestion that he must be the most experienced photographer on the circuit – “No, I’m just older!” – but the French professional photographer must be doing something right to have spent the last 16+ years at the highest level. Before we talk more about the Freeride World Tour, I’m interested to know how Dom got to where he is now. 

    “I started as a skier in the late 90s. I grew up in Marseille in the south of France. I would travel into the Alps – to Serre Chevalier – to ski. I was okay, but not brilliant. Compared to the guys who lived in the mountains, I just wasn’t quite at their level”, explains Dom. It is worth pointing out that his idea of okay is perhaps a little modest. As he goes on to explain; “I was competing and had some sponsors and a lot of friends in the sport, so when I decided to step away from competition, I had a lot of connections in the sport.”

    “My first love had always been journalism and I got a job at Skieur Magazine. This was the golden age of magazines; there was money to be made and a real creative excitement around both publishing and action sports in general. Skieur was rock and roll! I started off writing small stories, but became a Photo Editor and then took photos myself; partly because it seemed like a good opportunity to get out of the office! Eventually, I quit to become a freelance photographer in 2004. The final piece of the jigsaw is when a friend asked me to shoot for the World Tour in 2008 and I am still here!”


    So what does a typical day shooting the Freeride World Tour look like? And how have things changed over the years for Dom?

    “There’s an element of always looking for something new, always evolving, always being creative; whether that’s in action shots, portraits, studio shots, documentary work, etc. I also work on the official Freeride World Tour podcast. To me, it’s important to keep moving to stay creative. Just as the standard of riding has leaped forwards over the last 15 years, so has the quality of photography and everything that goes with it.”

    “Having said that, the basics will always be the basics. It starts two days before with the face-check. It is the opportunity for competitors to scope their lines and we’ll grab some lifestyle shots while they do. We also talk to the competitors about their planned lines. It’s all about trust and building relationships, but they obviously want us to get the shots too!”


    “On competition day, I work with another photographer – Jeremy Bernard – and typically one of us will position ourselves to get the ‘safe’ shots and the other will choose a ‘gamble’ location that might miss some action, but is a better angle for others. For a long time, I generally shot from a helicopter (it was my specialty), but we use them much less frequently on the World Tour now; understandably given climate concerns.”

    “When shooting on foot, we’ll either hike or skin for a couple of hours up the mountain. It’s just hard work. You are carrying a heavy camera pack and everything that you’ll need to be on the mountain for the rest of the day. You are always rushing as there’s always something to shoot before you set off.”

    And that’s where Dom’s gear is so important. There are no second chances when it comes to capturing finals' runs, so he needs to stay comfortable, whatever the conditions.


    “I’m like an onion! While climbing I only wear a technical baselayer and GORE-TEX shell jacket and pants. GORE-TEX garments are always on the outside of the onion. I’ll leave them unzipped while I move, but the very first thing that I do is zip them up when I stop. That traps my body heat and means I dry out super fast. I’ll then add extra layers under my shell. I’m often sitting around for over four hours in the shade of the north face while I work, so dealing with the extremes of temperature is really important to me. Garments that breathe well and are durably wind and waterproof are an absolute must. If I get my clothing wrong it isn’t just my work that is potentially compromised, it is my safety.” 

    “I only work in very thin leather gloves, as it allows me to operate all the buttons on my camera. If conditions are particularly bad, or I need to dig out some snow, I use some large GORE-TEX mittens to quickly pull over. Again, they breathe so well that any moisture rapidly dries away.”

    Dom’s day is far from over once the final run is done. He makes his way down the mountain as quickly as possible; there’s the medal ceremony to capture, as well as the epic task of editing his images. 


    “I’ll often have 4000 images to edit. I get that down to around 300; of which there are always a few images of every single rider. They are made available to athletes and sponsors that evening, and then the show rolls on.”

    Speaking of which, there’s always another trip to pack for. Dom is about to fly to Canada when we speak. But you can be sure that for as long as he is shooting the Freeride World Tour – after his cameras – GORE-TEX garments will be first on his packing list. 

    Tom Hill Tom Hill

    Tom Hill

    Tom Hill is a freelance outdoors writer and a Contributing Editor for Sidetracked Magazine. When not at his desk, you will find him out in his local Pennine hills, or mountains further afield. He has been a magazine product tester for over ten years and his personal gear cupboard is stuffed to the gills with kit for biking, running, climbing and skiing.

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