Vail's Most Well-Known Photographer Leaves Vail Resorts and Goes Rogue

You may not know his name, but Jack Affleck's images have defined perceptions of the Vail Valley for nearly three decades. And now he no longer works for the resort company.

By Tom Winter December 12, 2016

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Vail's best known photographer, Jack Affleck, says he's stoked for what the future holds as a camera-for-hire. His secret? Take on a warrior mentality and seize the moment!

Image: Tom Winter

If a picture is worth a thousand words, Jack Affleck’s images speak volumes about our valley. The longtime Vail Resorts staff photographer has shot everything from luscious landscapes to in-your-face action on and off VR's signature mountain. For more than two decades, Affleck began a typical workday scoring first chair, and ended skiing down after dark. He’s created the visual moments that define the Vail Resorts’ brand, while inspiring locals and visitors alike with powerful, stunning images, from summer sunsets to the empty Back Bowls to endless fields of wildflowers to rushing rapids.

While none of that will change, Affleck is now striking out on his own after 26 years of shooting the majority of still imagery for Vail and Beaver Creek as a staff photographer for Vail Resorts. This means that while he may find it a bit harder to finagle first chair up Vail Mountain on a powder day, it will be a lot easier to take that amazing freelance photo gig in Hawaii in January.

But regardless of where – and who – he’ll be working for, one thing is certain: Affleck’s images have defined how we and the rest of the world views Vail and the surrounding area. We caught up with him on a recent morning, and asked him to share a few lessons learned while documenting the good life over the past quarter century, chasing Kodak moments in our corner of ski country.

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From unusual angles to amazing light, Affleck has captured the many moods of the Vail Valley.

Image: Jack Affleck


I like to put together impossible productions, like lifestyle shoots where there is hard lighting and you have a cast of 30 people you have to organize and I’m out of my comfort zone.

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The ability to capture moments like this that have defined the world's vision of what the Vail Valley is all about, thanks to photographer Jack Affleck's commitment and passion for the perfect shot.

Image: Jack Affleck


When you’re chasing powder shots, it’s the athletes who provide the image. I’m just there with a camera.

Getting the perfect image

There’s a saying that, 'Luck comes to those who are the most well-prepared.' You want to have no surprises, think everything through and plan accordingly. There’s only so much you do have under control, so understand what those elements are and then make contingency plans for everything. If you are prepared, you won’t freak out when things go wrong.

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Lighting, hair, styling and so much more go into Affleck's lifestyle shots, but the results seem effortless and magical.

Image: Jack Affleck


It’s really important to have good people around you. I get so passionate in the moment that I need team members who aren’t that way. For me, it’s having someone who has a Buddha-like calmness assisting me. You need certain aspects out of the different personalities on your team.

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If you want to get the shot, you've got to make it happen. In this masterfully composed image, Affleck demonstrates how 'luck comes to those who are the most well-prepared.'

Image: Jack Affleck


You can do a lot more than you ever imagined in a 24-hour period. Take on a warrior mentality and get the most out of an opportunity. Seize the moment!


See more of Jack's work here.

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