Why Do Photographers Love Portillo? (Part I)

| June 10, 2016 << Back

Portillo is a special place. Period. The skiing and snowboarding is world renowned, the nightlife goes off, the hotel’s atmosphere is peerless, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more breathtakingly beautiful place anywhere in the world. When you add those three things together you get a photographer’s dream destination, which is why professional photographers do not pass up an opportunity to visit Portillo!

Can you imagine taking a “work trip” to Portillo? Well, a handful of talented, hardworking, and creative photographers get to make annual trips to Hotel Portillo on the company’s credit card. We reached out to four fortunate professional photographers who frequent Ski Portillo “on assignment” to learn why they keep returning…

Skiing Portillo

Erik Roner with Aconcagua in the background. Photo: Adam Clark

Adam Clark (www.adamclarkphoto.com; @acpictures on Instagram):
Portillo is a dream for me to go shoot at for a lot of the same reasons it’s a dream to go as a skier. The visuals of just being in the Portillo valley are amazing. The Tres Hermanos, Inca lake, and high Andean mountains make for some of the most amazing backdrops a ski photographer could ask for. Then it’s a real bonus to have Aconcagua [in the background]—if you go high enough the views of Aconcagua are just amazing.

And, since I love backcountry skiing, the Super C is one of the best couloirs in the world to ski, and also to shoot. High cliff walls, amazing backdrops, and skiing the Super C goes on forever. Lastly, don’t forget the sun. I’ve never been to Portillo without a sunny day.

Portillo Chile

Marcus Caston skiing above “the serpentine road running up to the resort.” Photo: Frank Shine

Frank Shine (Brand Creative Manager at Blizzard Skis & Tecnica Group; @blizzardskis on Instagram):
Portillo has so many dynamic backdrops and fascinating angles to shoot. People all over the world know the images of the yellow hotel, Laguna del Inca, los Tres Hermanos, the serpentine road running up to the resort, and sun-soaked aprés skiers at Tio Bob’s. Over the years it has been fun to find new ways to incorporate these landmarks into photography, but more than anything it is the culture and hospitality behind a Portillo experience that makes it so fun to be a part of. Portillo is one of the few places that seems genuinely excited to have you there to shoot and work in their backyard, and they do everything in their power to make the week easy, successful and unforgettable.

Hotel Portillo is photogenic during the day and night. Photo: Jonathan Selkowitz

Jonathan Selkowitz (www.selkophoto.com; @jonathanselkowitz on Instagram):
Portillo is a dream destination for photographers for many reasons. The alpine environment provides both serene and dramatic landscapes, and you’re always able to capture wildlife such as conejo, viscacha, condors, zoros, and guanacos. The collection of Portillo guests and employees provide opportunities to snap portraits and lifestyle images galore. The place is rich in history. The abundance of sport and adventure provide all sorts of action photo opportunities.

One of the unique elements of Portillo as a photo destination is that you stay in the mountains, you wake up and go to sleep in the mountains. You do not waste time in an automobile during your stay.

Ski Portillo

If you’re from North America, this is your “midsummer night’s dream.” Photo: Jesse J Hoffman

Jesse Hoffman (www.jessejameshoffman.com; @jessejhoffman on Instagram):
Portillo is a dream destination for photographers because of a few reasons. Firstly, the geography there is stunning. The hotel sits around 9,000-feet up in the Chilean Andes. With the Laguna del Inca and Tres Hermanos as a backdrop, this setting is close to perfect for a photographer. Secondly, the valley runs north to south which creates unique lighting throughout the day. From sunrise to sunset, the sun pans across the valley creating some great shadows to play with. Combined with the dramatic relief of the surrounding mountains, there is plenty to shoot! Lastly, it’s quite remote, which is great! While Portillo is known around the world as a premier ski destination, it isn’t crowded… ever! I’ve been to Portillo for 13 years in a row, and I’ve never waited in a lift line longer than a couple minutes. For me, this makes Portillo a very special place to photograph. Nobody wants to ski with thousands of people around, and photographers don’t want to shoot that! It is not uncommon that you can have the whole place to yourself – or at least it feels that way! Capturing a single person in such a beautiful and remote landscape really exaggerates that feeling of vast beauty, which can’t be done at most ski destinations.