Ai­das Odonelis

On­tario’s Ac­com­plished Com­pe­ti­tion Pho­tog­ra­pher

Gripped - - 10 QUESTIONS - Gripped

Ai­das Odonelis has been pho­tograph­ing in­door climb­ing com­pe­ti­tions for over a decade. He’s trav­elled around east­ern Canada in search for the per­fect ac­tion photo, which has re­sulted in count­less frame-wor­thy im­ages. He owns and op­er­ates Ruby Photo Stu­dios in On­tario and spends much of his win­ter work­ing with the Toronto Maple Leafs. We caught up with him on as­sign­ment at the sum­mer Psi­cobloc Open Se­ries in Mon­treal.

1 How long have you been shoot­ing?

I’ve been in­ter­ested in pho­tog­ra­phy since 2000. But I didn’t start pho­tograph­ing pro­fes­sion­ally around 2008.

2 How many comps have you cov­ered?

Not sure, but def­i­nitely more than fifty.

3 What was one of the best comps you’ve worked at?

Tour de bloc na­tion­als 2009 will al­ways be a mem­o­rable one. The Psi­cobloc comp was pretty great just be­cause it was the first of its kind in Canada and it’s ob­vi­ously a new-age for­mat.

4 Who is the most pho­to­genic comp climber for big moves?

I wouldn’t say any­one is more pho­to­genic than oth­ers, how­ever the big names are al­ways fun to shoot as they re­li­ably com­mit to big moves, such as Sean Mc­Coll and Se­bas­tian Lazure.

5 What was the en­ergy like in Mon­treal?

The en­ergy around the Psi­cobloc comp in Mon­treal was fan­tas­tic. It was re­ally like a big pool party where ev­ery­one is hang­ing out, swim­ming, drink­ing beers and climb­ing. Ev­ery­one was re­ally sup­port­ive of climbers on the wall while they were try­ing to com­mit to go­ing higher and higher. In many way Psi­cobloc is the per­fect style of com­pet­i­tive climb­ing for the non-climb­ing pub­lic. It’s easy to un­der­stand, as it’s just a race to the top.

6 Did you try the wall?

I did not. I try and sep­a­rate shoot­ing and climb­ing. While I’m shoot­ing, I try not to think about climb­ing and vice versa.

7 Was ev­ery­one stoked to get to the top? Or were some climbers scared?

There was a mix of both, as climbers got higher they knew they were com­mit­ting to ei­ther top­ping out or tak­ing a pretty big fall. Since ev­ery­one climbed on the same route, many of the less ex­pe­ri­enced climbers found dif­fi­cult and just climb­ing to the top while the more ex­pe­ri­enced climbers found the chal­lenge in climb­ing it as fast as pos­si­ble. This pro­vided a re­ally in­ter­est­ing mix to the au­di­ence.

8 What were some of the dif­fi­cul­ties in shoot­ing it?

The Psi­cobloc staff were very ac­com­mo­dat­ing with ac­cess to great van­tage points. The big­gest chal­lenge was in find­ing in­ter­est­ing ways to shoot peo­ple climb­ing the same route. Since the wall over­hangs so much, the climbers were in the shade the whole time, so dusk be­came very ap­peal­ing as the sun would come around the wall a bit. I ended up wan­der­ing around the park a lot to look for unique an­gles once I had se­cured some ‘hero’ ac­tion shots. Also ex­per­i­ment­ing with dif­fer­ent com­bi­na­tions of lenses and aper­tures to find dif­fer­ent ways of iso­lat­ing sub­jects.

9 What was your favourite mo­ments from the week­end?

While no sin­gle mo­ment re­ally sticks out to me, watch­ing the open class get faster and faster as they re­fined their beta was fas­ci­nat­ing. Many of them were able to cut theirs times in half. Watch­ing ner­vous climbers push them­selves higher and higher was great, just like work­ing your way up a scary lead.

10 Do you see Psi­cobloc catch­ing on in Canada?

Short an­swer, yes. The beauty of Psi­cobloc is that it’s one of the most ba­sic forms of com­pe­ti­tion – rac­ing. Its sim­plic­ity is was makes it so ap­peal­ing, es­pe­cially to the non-climb­ing pub­lic. While lead and boul­der­ing are great, they re­ally only ap­peal to climbers. Psi­cobloc com­bines all three styles into one great spec­ta­cle and puts it into a great at­mos­phere which is fun for peo­ple to be in. What’s not to like?—

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