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f-stop Icon Chris Garrison is fortunate to have had many golden moments in his shooting career, when everything comes together, including this amazing shot of wakeboard athlete Shota Tezuka in Japan. These red shine gates, or 'torii', are symbols of good fortune, and Chris is spreading the good luck in our Golden Ticket giveaway. One lucky winner will be picked at random for Chris' Golden Ticket prize of his GoPro Hero 6 along with a special print of the image above - signed by the athlete Shota Tezuka too! Fine out how to enter here.

When we saw this amazing image, we had to find out more. Read on for the full story behind this epic shot, through the eyes of the photographer, Chris Garrison himself...

Words and photography by Chris Garrison:

A Journey Into The Unknown 

The story of the shot above, with the wakeboarder Shota Tezuka framed by the shrine gate, started with a journey undertaken years ago to a country that I had never been to or even knew the language. This entire journey to the final outcome has been one of the most memorial experces of my life. 

The image was one of the images produced for the 2017 Wakeboarding Magazine Photo Annual. Print has always been the center of excitement of my action sports career. Something about seeing a magazine with the shot that the athlete and I worked to create is surreal. It may be a cliche to say, but the most coveted prize for me has always been scoring a cover. But when a phone call comes in saying that I got the cover of the photo annual, there is a whole new level of excitement - especially with an image that I had chased for over 3 years! 


A Story Of Two Covers

A lot always goes into getting the hammer shot for the cover of a magazine. I had always thought that dropping a straight emoji onto the front page would be pretty impressive.  Three years ago I went to Japan with Shota Tezuka to shoot waketboarding on Lake Yamanaka at the Base of Mt Fuji. If you do not know the Yamanaka area, I would break it down as the Great Smokey Mountains of Japan, except with one of the most recognizable mountains in the world - Mt. Fuji - right there! This resulted in the cover above of Mt Fuji in the winter.


Coming Back For The Shot

Little did I know this would be the beginning to a drive to come back several times a year to immerse my self in the culture and find a way to make the perfect spot Shota and I had found work. To cut a very long story short, Shota hit me up and said we have a green light and everything is dialed to get us down to a Torii (Shire Gate) on Lake Biwa we had found several years ago. There was only one catch, I would have to come over for about 2 weeks! Needless to say I booked my flight that same night!

After a few nights in Tokyo, and some warm weather shooting on Lake Yamanaka again, we made the move down south to my new favorite city, Kyoto. We spent several days in the city taking in the sites  and getting an unreal tour of Kyoto's amazing temples.

Relaxing with wakeboard athlete Shota Tezuka before going to work on the lake. Kyoto should be high on the list of photography travel destinations.



All Hands On Deck

The entire two week journey came down to and single 10 minute session at the 8pm sunset and another 4:30 am sunrise session the next day!  We ended up battle some heavy waves on our hour-long lake crossing.  Fun fact: Laka Biwa is the largest body of water in Japan! We fought off massive fishing boats, bad weather, and a protractor of angles that just did not want to work.  Just when we though nothing else could have been against us on the shoot, we may or may not have had a few engine problems. 


Getting The Shot

The final image was shot from them shore of the Shirahige Shrine, a 1,900 year old structure that defines the area!  Shota and I had to use hand signals to "drop' him into the right spot on the wake to get him the in the perfect center of the Tori.  I was also shooting with 3 Elinchrom rangers to light the area and Shota himself.  We only had a handful of chances as well as one frame per try. It was really tough working through the language barrier, but the entire crew came together with hand signals and sounds of excitement when the shot was made!


Passing On The Good Fortune

This is one of my favorite images from may history of shooting wakeboarding. It has so many meaning behind the cover.  It represents a couple year long journey into the heart of a country that I thought I would never see, and is a perfect representation of Shota Tezuka's home country. The Shirahige Shrine literal translation is "White Beard." They say all who cross under the Tori will have longevity, a prosperous business, and better luck.  There is also mention of a baby and match making but I may have skipped over that section! 

I love the fact that everyone got the chance to cross that Tori visually when they opened the Magazine - and be blessed with a longer more prosperous future! I wish you the same good fortune to win this signed print and my GoPro Hero 6 camera in my giveaway with f-stop!




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