Powder Pan photography takes over The Barley in Steamboat
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — You may have heard of a mythical winter creature named Powder Pan. He’s an elusive character, rumored to be found in the mountains of Northwest Colorado, sailing through magical aspen groves and flying down sparkling slopes, grinning and giggling and all the while snapping away with his camera.
“We go skiing to get away from the hustle and bustle, and skiing has the ability to bring out that inner child in all of us,” said Ben Saheb, the real life counterpart to alter-ego Pan. “Powder Pan embodies that inner kid. He’s out to capture that idea.”
Saheb is a Steamboat Springs-based photographer and videographer. He displays his gallery of ski photography at The Barley Tap and Tavern throughout the month of March.
What: Powder Pan
When: March 4 to March 31
Where: The Barley, 635 Lincoln Ave.
Photographs in the Barley display include shots of skiers midair, bluebird skies, vast mountainscapes and athletes so submerged in Champagne powder that only a peep of their helmet and gloves is visible.
All 25 of the pieces were taken in Routt National Forest. Saheb doesn’t mark locations more specific than that in an effort to help protect the land from overuse and damage.
“Not a single one of these photos were staged,” Saheb said. “When you’re skiing with this character, you don’t change a thing. It doesn’t interrupt the amazingness of a powder day. The character just goes out and captures the magic as it happens.”
Saheb has several seasons of experience as a photographer with a local ski guiding company and also spends his winter weekends photographing his friends while skiing.
A secret to the photographer’s success is his use of the F-Stop Tilopa backpack, designed to hold avalanche gear, medical gear and photography gear — everything this powder creature needs.
Tips for pow shots:
• While your friends are chatting at the top of a run and adjusting boots and goggles, ski fast and way ahead of them.
• Giggle the whole way down.
• Find a good spot with fresh snow and get as low as possible.
• As your friends come down, spray and pray.
• When they ski past, howl like a coyote and waste no time.
• Get up, keep giggling and chase them down.
• You can check photos later. Now is your time to enjoy the moment and ski with your buddies.
Beyond the facts that they’re ski photos and they’re majestic, there’s another theme connecting each of Saheb’s photos at The Barley. If any viewer can figure out what it is, they are invited to direct message their answer to @Powder.Pan on Instagram. If it’s correct, Saheb will buy the victorious viewer a beer.
Years before he was legally allowed to buy anyone a beer, as a child growing up in Denver, Saheb’s dream was to grow up and become another Warren Miller, creating ski films that leave the audience with mouths agape and an itch to go outside.
The exhibit that Saheb and Pan have created do just that.
“Never grow up,” Saheb said. “Skiing is the one remission we have from that.”
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When Steamboat Springs Middle School band director James Knapp saw a production of “Matilda” performed on Broadway, he knew he wanted to bring a version of it to town.