An average day in the office probably doesn’t entail traveling to a different country, flying in helicopters and filming professional skiers…but luckily for cameraman Tom Day that is exactly what he gets to do at work.
Day is an accomplished photographer and cinematographer who is best-known for his work with Warren Miller Entertainment, an award-winning full-service production company based out of Boulder, Colorado, according to warrenmillertv.com. Warren Miller comes out with an annual movie showcasing the amazing world of extreme skiing and snowboarding, but Day didn’t start out behind the camera like most photographers and cinematographers do.
Day noted, “I started out actually being filmed as one of the skiers in the Warren Miller movies. I had some friends that were already involved with it and once it became evident that I also knew how to work a camera I was handed a big bag full of camera equipment and told to go out with a crew to film. The rest is history from there.”
For the past 64 years Warren Miller Entertainment has produced an annual ski film that is played at theaters across the U.S. in November before ski season starts.
Day says since he came on-board he’s contributed to about 20 of the Warren Miller films over the past years. Keene, N.H.’s very own Colonial Theater on downtown Main Street hosted last year’s Warren Miller film “Ticket to Ride.”
Nicholas Swain, Keene State College sophomore and avid snowboarder, stated, “The Warren Miller movies get me pumped each year for the ski season that’s just around the corner. I’m always blown away by all the crazy camera shots from all around the world and how they continue to make awesome films year after year.”
Although Day is most known for his work with Warren Miller, it took him a long time to get where he is today. Day said he will always call Vermont his home, because being raised and having grown up there has helped shaped who he is today.
He also believes that without his family he wouldn’t have had the opportunities to follow his passion.
Susan Day, Tom’s mother, stated, “I remember when Tom was thirteen or fourteen-years-old we gave him his first camera and I remember watching him just being fascinated with the thing. From that point on I think he took that camera with him everywhere and spent every penny he earned to get new gadgets and equipment for it.”
Day says that although Vermont will always be his home, he couldn’t stay there forever. So after graduating with The Class of 1982 from Champlain College in Vermont, he headed out west to California.
Day ended up moving out to Olympic Valley, Calif., where Squaw Valley Ski Resort is located. Squaw Valley is famous for hosting the 1960 Winter Olympics and offers 3,600 skiable-acres of land in the wintertime.
Day said, “After I graduated I didn’t want to jump right into a career, so I went to California to be a ski-bum for a while and just needed enough money for rent and a ski pass. Funny how life works though, cause it was out here that I got my start with Warren Miller and before I knew it I had started a career.”
Day said one of the best parts of being involved with Warren Miller is having the opportunity to travel around the world doing what he loves. He says that each year Warren Miller wants to capture footage from different locations around the world to showcase how diverse the sport is.
“One of the most interesting places I’ve ever been sent to film was Dubai. The place is a desert, so you wouldn’t think there is anything worth filming out there as far as skiing goes. There is this big indoor-skiing facility there though where they create artificial snow, so even though it’s ninety-degrees outside you can go skiing anytime,” noted Day.
The life of a traveling extreme sports photographer isn’t all fun and games though. With every extreme sport like skiing and snowboarding there are always dangerous situations and risks. The professionals can make everything look so easy on screen, but one small mistake while riding down a mountain could result in serious injury or death.
Day stated, “I’ve seen lots of athletes get hurt from making mistakes, but the scariest thing out on those mountains is an avalanche. They can happen anywhere, anytime and there is little anyone can do about it but just hope they will make it out of there alive.”
National Geographic reports that on average, avalanches kill 150 people per-year and 90 percent of avalanche incidents are caused by the victim or someone in the victim’s group. Also, after 45 minutes of being buried in an avalanche, only 20-30 percent of victims will survive.
Taking a risk isn’t easy and when the risk is as life-threatening as an avalanche. Jonathan Day, Tom’s older brother, said “I’ve always been a little worried about my brother out there filming on mountains where anything could go wrong at any moment, but I know Tom knows what he’s doing and I have faith he’ll continue to come home safe.”
Not every photographer or cinematographer gets to live a life filled with adventure to new places and unpredictable danger, but for Tom Day, that is just another day on the job.
Day stated, “Now that I’ve made a career from working with cameras it’s funny looking back, because when I started to get paid for my work I was just having fun with my camera. My job definitely gets stressful sometimes, but I’m very fortunate to have landed up where I am today being able to do what I love.”