Teenagers often express little interest in their parents’ work—usually just an eye roll. But in 2015, 15-year-old Baptiste was eyes wide open when he went to work with his father. It turned out to be a two-day shoot with legendary skier Candide Thovex. The now-famous Audi commercial documented Thovex skiing through cow pastures and forest, through tunnels, off a cliff, over a tractor, and into the back of the new Quattro. It was just another couple of days on the job for Baptiste’s father — esteemed photographer Christoffer Sjöstrom who has built a career documenting the world’s best action-sports athletes.
It was Baptiste’s first glimpse behind-the-scenes of a commercial shoot, and he was in awe of the team’s seamless choreography. He was hooked on filmmaking.
Now, at only 22 years of age, Baptiste shoots for some of the industry’s biggest brands, sometimes on his own and sometimes with his father. “Baptiste has creative visions to bring to his work,” says Christoffer. “He is as good in front of the camera as he is behind it, which makes it so easy to teach him what I know.”
Growing up in Sweden and Argentina, Christoffer was mainly interested in rap music and graffiti. But his father was an avid skier and took him on skiing holidays every winter. It didn’t take long before Christoffer became a passionate skier, going from the small hill near their home in Trosa, south of Stockholm, to eventually making his first winter season in Sweden’s premier ski resort Åre. Later, on a family ski trip to France, Christoffer convinced his dad to check out La Grave, which was just around the mountain from where they were vacationing. At the now legendary ski lodge, La Chaumine, he met the Swedish owner, Pelle Lång, who practically gave him a job on the spot.
Before long, Christoffer was working at the lodge, drove the transfer bus, washed the dishes, cut wood, and skied with Lång and his crew. But the definitive moment was when he bought a Canon Eos 100.
During the winter in La Grave, Christoffer started skiing for the local, well-established photographers John Dougal and Colin Samuels. “It taught me a lot about being in front of the lens but also about the thinking behind the camera and how the industry worked,” he recalls. “Then I saw photos of myself in Powder Magazine, Åka Skidor and an ad for Volant Ski. It was a sensational feeling.”
When the new-school skiing movement erupted in the late 90s, Christoffer made his movie debut in the legendary ski film Free Radicals (1997) by now famed film director Ruben Östlund.
“It put me and the others on the map,” he recalls. Christoffer had a unique role in the crew; besides being one of the six skiers in the film, he produced the tunes for his segment with his old rap group “TDC-posse” and shot still photos during the filming.
The Free Radicals film became a breakthrough for the whole crew, becoming a household name in the ski industry for years. For Christoffer, it kicked off a career that is still going. Assignments started to roll in, and they opened many doors. In 1998, at the first World Extreme Skiing Championships in Valdez, Alaska, he met his future wife Raphaëlle Monod — a famed French mogul skier, Olympian, and already World Champion with 21 World Cup wins to her name. The couple married shortly after and settled in Annecy, at the foot of the French Alps. As the pair raised a son and two daughters (Baptiste, Juliette and Janelle), Christoffer became one of the outdoor industry’s most sought-after photographers.
Christoffer’s quiet, humble demeanour and pro-skier-level skiing skills, together with a good mountain sense, had made him a favorite among many professional skiers and industry-leading brands. The downside was that it took him away from his family for extended periods. He travelled the world for ten years with the French superstar Candide Thovex. Christoffer’s “Book of Candide” is a testament to their time together as their stars rose.
Meanwhile, Baptiste had begun taking photos of his friends skiing and biking at home. His dad had given him the means to do it — an old Canon 5D Mark 2 digital camera. Baptiste studied cinematography in high school; and absorbed everything he could learn from outdoor films and documentaries. Always a passionate skier, he was often in front of his dad’s lens and competed in Freeride World Qualifier competitions until he was 19. That same year, he got his break when Thovex needed an editor. Soon after, Baptiste was given the not-insignificant challenge to follow-cam Candide for the season. The work catapulted Baptiste’s career and has been followed by numerous projects with other high-profile athletes, like a current project with Max Palm.
But Baptiste’s proudest work is a documentary he shot and produced during a trip to Georgia with his father. Mestia: The Leri Niguriani Story aired at the 2019 International Freeride Film Festival. It was evident that growing up in the crucible of action photography had laid an impressive foundation.
One thing rapidly leads to another. A DM on Instagram turned into an Olympic TV commercial for the Norwegian sports chain XXL — which Baptiste got to produce in France with a group of freelance friends. “We just gave it a go — it was a huge step for all of us.”
The Norwegian director Eivind Holmboe was obviously happy — because just three months later, he called again to ask Baptiste to be a camera operator on a Netflix movie set in Spain’s Sierra Nevada mountains.
“The photography profession has changed drastically in the last decade,” says Christoffer, now 50. “Who knows where Baptiste will take it? But I’ve taught him certain principles, approaches — consultation with clients, safety in the mountains — these will never change.”
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