Hanging out of airplanes, swimming with sharks and getting up close and personal with the world’s best athletes is just another typical workday for Bo Bridges.
Bridges, a professional sports and lifestyle photographer from Manhattan Beach, California, has a life most people can’t even imagine (if they could, they’d immediately quit their day jobs).
He travels the globe capturing some of life’s purest moments, and whether it’s snowboarding in the backcountry or soaring 200 mph above the clouds with Tom Cruise, you know he’s going to come back with some amazing photos.
His work has been featured all over the world on magazine covers and movie posters with many considering him one of the best in the business. In 2008 he opened up his first gallery in Hermosa Beach, California and by 2013 he was able to open up his second gallery in Manhattan Beach, California.
He started shooting the X Games for ESPN back in 1998, as they became an athlete favorite for the first time, and continued to shoot every X Games competition thereafter.
We caught up with Bo at the X Games to get a feel for what life is like being one of the top photographers and videographers in the world.
How old were you when you first got into photography?
I got my start in high school. My senior year I was going to high school in Switzerland and I was taking a ceramics course and my instructor said, ‘Why don’t you come take my photo class, Black and White Film?’ And I was like, I’m a senior, I kind of just want to get on out of here and graduate. He said, ‘I’ll tell you what, you come in and take my class and if you don’t like it, you can drop out.’ I got in there and just fell in love with it.
How did you know that photography was going to turn into a career?
My senior year of college I got my pilot’s license, and I started flying and turning the plane sideways and opened the window to shoot some pretty abstract stuff. Then when I got out of college, I started a company called Above & Beyond Arial Photography, and I was flying around in Florida and started shooting a lot of waterfront, big houses, golf courses and big hotels. Somewhat lucrative and made a little money. A couple girlfriends from Vail, Colorado told me I should check it out, so I packed up everything I owned in my car and told myself, ‘one month out there.’ I started shooting snowboarding and skiing and I never came back.
What was your first camera?
Ricoh. My mom got it for me; it was a SLR film camera.
What are your hobbies outside of photography?
What photo are you most proud of?
Alex Gray. The cover of Surfer mag, that was like the holy grail for me. And definitely the ‘Mission Impossible.’ Hanging outside of an airplane going like 200 mph with Tom Cruise was pretty ridiculous.
What is your favorite photoshoot assignment you’ve ever been on?
I still think the craziest, coolest, stupidest photoshoot I’ve ever been on was the glacier tsunami surfing in Cordova, Alaska. This was on a river and there was a glacier the size of Rhode Island. If the glacier calved and enough ice fell it would create a tsunami wave. It was in 2007 and we waited two weeks for this thing to fall.
Do you have any advice for young photographers out there?
You really have to put your head down and go out and create that portfolio because that is your resume.
Check out some more of Bo’s amazing work below:
*Note: This interview was edited for length.
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