Winter in Minnesota is about embracing the weather and getting outside to appreciate the unique opportunities that winter brings. The Labatt Blue U.S. Pond Hockey Championships represent one of those unique events, where Minnesotans and hockey players from around the country come together on a lake in the middle of Minneapolis. Snow is cleared off the ice, and 25 hockey rinks are built in the middle of the lake for a weekend-long hockey marathon. Labatt Blue has sponsored the tournament since 2015, and hosts pond hockey tournaments around the Midwest and New England.
I joined a NYC-based film production company to document this year’s pond hockey weekend to capture the sights and expanse of the event. Rather than focusing on action shots on the ice, my focus was on the festive atmosphere the players and fans share between match-ups. Games consist of only two 15-minute periods, so they move fast and give players plenty of time to enjoy beers and socialize with other teams. The majority of the images I created over the weekend were authentic moments, but I also took the opportunity to curate some shots by carrying extra beers with me and sharing them with “thirsty-looking” characters.
The big challenge of photographing this event was dealing with the extreme temps that Minnesota winters can throw at us. But with more than 10 years in Minnesota, I’ve learned to enjoy the magic light that comes in the dead winter, and not to underestimate the importance of a few hand warmers.