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Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Updated: January 30, 2:30 AM ET
Barkers can bite


She can manhandle a snowmobile, talk a cop out of busting a spot, and shoot banger magazine cover photos. How do you say "dream girl" in Canadian?

With four covers this year and more shots coming out with more big name riders every season, it seems like photographer Ashley Barker has been popping up everywhere recently. The 25-year-old TransWorld staff photographer lives in Whistler, and has been ripping half her life. Since most of her time is spent on the road now we caught up with her in Quebec City during a shoot with a rock star rail crew to pick her brain on such subjects as handling abuse from boys and snowmobiles and what's really important in a working relationship. Read and learn, fellas.

ESPN.com: You started out shooting skateboarding, right? Has that helped you?

Ashley Barker: Realistically, if I didn't shoot skating first, I probably would have never shot snowboarding. When I moved to Vancouver after high-school, I met TJ Schneider, Dwayne Weibe, James Beach and Scott Shaw. Because I already shot action, they invited me to try snowboarding, but who knows if that offer would be there had I not already had some experience.

You've been riding since you were 12. How important do you think it is for a shooter to be a hardcore shredder also?
I think it's completely controversial to shoot this sport if you don't know what's up. How are you going to tell the difference between good style and bad style [or] when to shoot the action? Often, 1/10 of a second is 1/10 of a second too late for perfect timing, so if you don't know in advance when the action is going to look the best then you're never going to get the timing right. That's why I don't shoot skating anymore ... beyond a heel-flip I don't really know when that split second is. Plus, I don't think you can really appreciate it if you don't have the desire to strap on a board sometimes.

How have you avoided the trap of becoming a female shred shooter who only shoots female shredders?

Having a nice young woman to help convince the authorities that it's okay to snowboard on the railings is always a plus. I've never seen so many police give the thumbs up to keep sessioning as I did when Ashley put on the charm for them. -- JP Walker

Girl crews are a bad idea. That's the best part about my position at TWS -- I have no requests from the mag for all-girl trips. Ideally, I would have one other girl on a four rider crew. That way, you get the best of girls, but you're not relying on them to get a handful of shots. Anytime I've been on all girl trips, there's crying, arguing, I work harder than ever and come home with fewer shots then I'd hoped for. It's usually not worth it. That's just the reality of girls snowboarding, generally speaking. If you look at any girl killing it in the industry right now, I guarantee you that [they] aren't riding/working with girls all the time. And, if they are, they aren't reaching their potential.

You shot with The Unit recently and JP Walker even did a cool Q/A with you on his site. Was it intimidating trying to document such legends?
Hana Beaman on the "Football Field," AK. This photo landed on the back cover of Snowboarder Magazine's October 2010 issue.
Those guys are rad, but legend or no legend we are all the same, we just experience life different, so I try not to get "intimidated" anymore. Every crew works different and hopping from crew to crew can be difficult at times, but a couple minor adjustments and it's pretty mellow. They're actually some of the nicest guys out there -- they only have beef with other riders because of things they have said in the public eye or past experiences. Before I met Jeremy [Jones] I thought he was a dick because of how others view him, but like I said: one of the nicest guys around.

Word on the street is you can manhandle a sled despite being pretty small, and not a man... Yeah, I spent my first and second winter after high school in Golden, B.C. sitting bitch (you sit, while the driver sits over you) underneath Scott Shaw. He's a true redneck, and was a great teacher. After Golden I moved out west and bought my own sled. It took me years to learn. It's hard as a girl to get people to take you out at first, but after a while you figure it out. In the end it's not about how much you weigh, it's about using your body weight, having confidence, making quick decisions, not breaking and stopping only on downhills. I'd take sledding over heli-ing if it came down to it.

Ash can totally hang with the YES boys. She sleds hard and gets after the right angle. She'll bring her board and casually wait for free time to go for a run, then BOOM, she punts it off cliffs and s---! She rocks.

-- DCP

The cops are on-strike, and private security guards are too busy to bother snowboard crews... Pick a city and four riders for an urban assault.
Crap. I can't answer this. There are too many great "rail" riders out there and the city I would go to would be somewhere I haven't been yet. The "dream team" probably wouldn't mix too well, either. Rail riders are kind of funny... Most are great, but there are a few super talented ones that are just out to lunch in work ethic and mind-frame. Like they're too good for snowboarding, but yet they're there to snowboard...

It sucks because they influence others to be real pricks, too. It's funny because that doesn't really fly so much with backcountry riders -- although I can think of one or two with terrible egos as well. I don't like working with those people no matter how talented they may be. I just want to create something cool for others to enjoy while keeping a smile, learning, and respecting the world and other people around me.