What it's like being an Athlete? With Renoun Athlete: Jakob Ager

Posted by Evan Williams on

Where did you grow up?

I grew up on the west coast of Denmark, in a small town. Highest point in Denmark is a hill of 172 meters, so we didn't have much skiing. Instead we spend our time surfing and sailing the north sea and that where my passion for the outdoors sprouted.

Jakob Ager Headshot

Wow, that’s pretty awesome — the Danish know how to do things right! Your photography is absolutely stunning. What inspired you to pick up a camera in the first place?

It started out as a way of documenting our trips and adventures. I bought my first camera, a canon Eos 450d, of a friend and just started bringing it on surf and skiing trips. Then it just happened step by step from there and at some point, I were good enough to charge for my services and then I jumped on the train.

Where did you learn photography? Who has shaped your photographic style the most?

I never did any courses or classes. It was a lot of trial and error in the beginning. I’m quite visual and like to slow down and try to reflect and appreciate what I make an impact on me - good or bad. It can be an object, a feeling, a happening or something else and then I´ll, later on, try to capture that in a photo. Today I get a lot of inspiration from Instagram. My idea is to get exposed to great imagery as much as possible. I believe it both influences me, directly and indirectly, meaning I reflect on some photos and try to figure out why they are so great, but the just the sheer amount of having endless amazing photos in your feed has a positive impact on you. That also why I'm pretty picky in terms of following people - I don't want to pollute my feed with bad photos, that doesn’t inspire me. Zooming in on specific people, I used to be very inspired by Chris Burkard. Today I´m mostly inspired by his story and capability to connect to a wide group of people, more than his visual style, which I find a bit boring. Visually I´ve been looking a lot at Alex Strohl who has a lot of feeling and atmosphere in his photos

What is your favorite photo of all time?

When I was just getting into photography, Chris Burkard was a huge inspiration for me. He took a surf photo in an unreal location I never heard about at the time. It was from Unstad beach in Lofoten Island, not too far away from my home. On my first major skiing trip, we went to Lofoten, actually, this was also the trip I was introduced to Renoun skies. One day we met a couple of Swedish surfers and we talked them into bringing us surfing the next day. After a solid drive through mountains and around fjords, we drive through this tunnel and Unstad beach emerges and it's absolutely pumping. I had no idea that was where we going and I was blown away. I was able to take a photo resembling that of Chris´s. The photo was later shares across social media and printed in Nordic Surfer Magazine. It´s defiantly not one of my best photos, but it still stands a milestone for me.

From left to right: Photo by Chris Burkard, Photo by Jakob Ager

What else do you do other than skiing?

These days I´m mostly around the water both while working and in my free time. I shoot a lot of surfing and coastal culture. I´m lucky enough to have turned my photography in to my full-time job by now and the borders between work and freetime a blurring up more and more. Some assignments a still in the boring end, but I get to shoot a lot of amazing stuff and I´m really thankful for that.

Jakob and the Renoun team finding good views and even better pow in Japan!

What trips have you been on?

Ive been lucky enough to travel a fair bit recent years, both for skiing and surfing, work and personal. For skiing Ive been in British Columbia, Norway, Japan and the Alps. Japan was insane. We didn’t hit one of those huge dumps, but culturally it was so incredible. I hope I will be able to go back there and spend more time just sinking into the local rhythm.

That’s amazing. What’s next on your list?

I would love to go Alaska soon both for skiing and surfing. In Europe I would love to travel the less developed skiing destinations like Macedonia, Ukraine and such. Heading across the mediterranean sea and skiing the Atlas mountains in Morocco should also be an amazing trip.

Do you actually own a VW bus? Where have you taken it?!

Haha, I don't own a VW bus, unfortunately, but every time I have the chance to incorporated one in a photoshoot I go for it. It's the perfect timeless reference to adventure and a free spirit. That particular one was an absolute piece of garbage though. The gear-box broke on us, my girlfriend ripped the door of (she is not exactly a bodybuilder) and the Airbnb couple blamed it all on us. Luckily it turned out that I wasn’t our fault and all in all it was an amazing trip to Hawaii where we camped all over Oahu in it.

What is the hardest part about being a professional photographer?

The hardest part for me is the sacrifices personally about being on the move a lot of the time and balancing personal- and work life. I get a lot of amazing opportunities, but a lot of the time I haven’t been willing to be away from my loved ones, and that is some tough choices to make.

Any advice for someone looking to get into the outdoor industry?

Shoot as much as possible, shoot different stuff and reflect on what impacts you visually and use that in your own photography.

Who inspires you most?

As a photographer, it´s gotta be Alex Strohl. He has developed a style different from anyone else, which has impacted all outdoor photography today in my opinion. He is always developing and digging into new stuff and seems to have a great balance between personal and work life. He does what he loves, and he does it well. 

Footnotes: Jakob currently lives in Vancouver, and travels on assignment almost weekly.