I first heard of TOMS and their One for One program last summer when Ryan and his groomsmen wore them for his Mammoth wedding.
I immediately recognized the brilliance behind the idea (for each pair of shoes sold they provide a pair to a child in need somewhere around the world, including the United States).
About six months later, Sandra from Green Fox Events in Mammoth asked me if I’d be interested in shooting an event for them this March and I was stoked for the opportunity.
I didn’t know a whole lot about the company, but I admired their responsible approach to global commerce. That’s fairly rare these days and cool to see.
As I’d find out during the course of our day together, the entire TOMS operation is much more than a socially responsible shoe and eyewear company. It’s a conglomeration of young, incredibly talented and dynamic Southern Californians. Throughout the course of the day I realized I wasn’t dealing with your typical HR department or marketing geeks. These guys and girls were athletes, actors, singers, world travelers, and much more, I’m sure.
We started the day with breakfast at the hotel where the crew prepared for a day on the mountain, or joined Olympic long-distance runner Deena Kastor and her husband Andrew for a run around town.
I began from there with TOMS founder and CEO, Blake Mycoskie, and several longtime employees for some snowboarding and skiing shots on the upper mountain. On the first run I realized I wasn’t dealing with the typical Southern California weekend warriors, these guys could ride–all of them. I led them straight up to Mammoth’s Paranoid Flats, home to the best skiing on the mountain at most times of the year. With our lack of snow, the entrance into The Paranoids is a bit sketchy but each one of them shredded it like they were mountain locals. I was impressed, and we got some awesome shots on the steep wind buff.
Next, I headed down to Canyon Lodge to grab some shots of the first-timers doing lessons with Ryder, Green Fox Events’ go-to snowboard instructor. There was a fair amount of crashing going on, but they were all having a blast on Canyon’s Schoolyard Express.
From Mammoth Mountain, the Odyssey continued to Tamarack Cross-County Ski Center, where several from the TOMS crew were snowshoeing around the Lakes Basin with local naturalist, Leslie Dawson. It was warm down at Twin Lakes, and they were loving it.
The next stop was Woolly’s Adventure Summit for some tubing. Despite the warm temperatures and snow melt, the group at the sled hill had an incredible time. We spent a few hours lapping the park and then got some group portraits on the CAT they use to groom the track. That was one of the highlights of the day, to be sure, and I’m not sure why I’ve never been there before.
After some intense dodgeball at Canyon Lodge, everyone went home to prepare for the night’s dinner, costume party and talent show.
It was here that I was able to start to comprehend the sort of talent TOMS brought to the table. Usually, at a costume event, most of the crowd will throw a wardrobe together an hour before their arrival. Not the case here. As you’ll see below, the effort put into this was stunning. The best for me was the group inside several giant, inflatable balls. Continue down to see this, it’s worth it.The talent show was incredible. The first act, a solo rendition of Coolio’s Gangsta’s Paradise, got the crowd amped up. There were about five more acts after that, all incredible, but the most outrageous and out-of-the-box was the impeccably choreographed ribbon dance (done by the last three dudes you’d expect to see ribbon dancing).
My vote was for the Gangsta’s Paradise performance, but the ribbon dancers’ unorthodox and hilarious style won the judges over fairly easily.
The night wrapped up with a dance party, MC’ed by Mammoth’s own Spencer Myers. It was one of the longest days I’ve ever had shooting, but one of the most fun. It was like a super-amateur Olympics, minus all the silly sports that don’t make it onto the TV coverage. Hopefully we’ll be able to shoot with TOMS again.
That’s all for today. We’re headed to Santa Barbara on Sunday for Mike and Jessica’s beach wedding. It’ll probably be raining through the weekend, but we love shooting in adverse weather. Plus, that means powder skiing in Mammoth and Tahoe next week so it doesn’t bother us.
Look for blog posts from Santa Barbara next Tuesday and Thursday. Thanks again.