In Focus: Breckenridge Photographer Liam Doran and the Art of Sport

How do you make it in a mountain town? For Liam Doran, the answer to that question has simply been to do what he loves and focus in.

The most difficult thing about moving to a mountain town? Figuring out how to stay and find work that fulfills you. While that road has not been easy for Breckenridge, Colorado-based photographer Liam Doran, he has certainly hit his stride. A commitment to the things he loves—skiing, mountain biking, backpacking, fly fishing, trail running—a keen eye and sense of how motion and landscape work together has entrenched him in a career as one of the top photographers in Summit County. For good reason, Doran’s images don’t just convey action, they express a love for the mountain life that only someone who is immersed in it can capture. His work has graced the cover of Powder and SKI magazines and he is a frequent contributor to Outside, Skiing, Trail Runner, Mountain, Elevation Outdoors and more. He took the time to share some of his favorite work and talk about what it takes to make it.

How hard it is to make it as a mountain photographer?
Very difficult…but not impossible. There are tons of talented shooters out there—the trick is to find your niche and excel at it.  Then, other branches of outdoor photography will open up.

 
What brought you to Breckenridge?
The chicks of course… okay, thats a lie.  I grew up in Parker, Colorado, but moved east during high school and college.  I knew I always wanted to get back to the mountains and ended up in Breck after an apartment in Jackson did not pan out.
 
What keeps you there?
The community.  People here are great and after nearly 18 years here its hard to imagine leaving.
 
What still gets you jazzed up on assignment?
Meeting new people, traveling to new places and the challenge. I recently had an assignment to shoot Steamboat Springs.  The weather was poor and I dont know many people there but somehow we put it all together at a moments notice and came away with a great three-day shoot.
 
Let’s take a look at some of your favorite photographers from over the years and hear a little bit of story behind them:

 

Leland Turner on Orange Dot Trail Breckenridge, CO
Leland Turner on Orange Dot Trail Breckenridge, CO

“This shot took me a few years to get.  The undergrowth only stays that green for a few days every summer and it has to be overcast in order to get the even lighting. When conditions were finally right, I hauled a 20-foot step ladder into this spot.  I had a huge knee brace on from surgery earlier that spring and it was challenging to say the least…but I finally go the shot I wanted.”

 

Matt Powers on Black Gulch Trail
Matt Powers on Black Gulch Trail

“My challenge was to come up with a shot of my hometown trails that had not been seen before.  The Black Gulch trail provided me with just that opportunity.  Even today, people in town ask where this shot was taken.”

 

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“Most of my shooting is done on assignment, so I really enjoy getting to shoot while just out on the road.  I am often drawn to the old broken-down places one comes across in rural America as they seem to hold a ghostly aura and a direct link to an idealized past.”

 

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“I was headed home after a long trip through the desert and I knew that if I timed it right I could get to Fisher Towers just in time for sunrise. There are a lot of great images of the Titan but I had never seen one quite like this before.”

 

Sven Brunso on Coal Bank Pass Colorado
Sven Brunso on Coal Bank Pass Colorado

“Currently, the bulk of my work is ski photography and this image is typical of how I like to shoot. Great morning light with strong contrast and a perfect turn. We were rewarded with a photo annual cover in Mountain magazine for our efforts.”

 

Rich Banach finds the pocket of blue at Revelstoke
Rich Banach finds the pocket of blue at Revelstoke

“This image came from a very challenging shoot for me. Four of us headed to Revelstoke to shoot a ski/travel gallery for a big website piece. The conditions were dangerous and for whatever reason, I had placed a ton of artificial pressure on myself and by the end of the trip my nerves were fried and I had a total meltdown.”

 

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“I love backpacking but I rarely get to shoot it. On this occasion three friends and I got permits to hike the Virgin River through Zion NP. The first day and a half were some of the most beautiful miles I have ever put under my feet.”

 

Mike "Quigs" Quigley at his cabin where he lives
Mike “Quigs” Quigley at his cabin where he lives

“When shooting for print editorial, you have to learn to shoot more than just action. Things like scenics, food, travel and portraits are all mandatory for a well rounded story. This portrait of Mike Quigley stands out as one of my favorites as it really encapsulates who he is in 1/100th of a second.”

You can peruse more of Doran’s work and purchase prints at LiamDoranPhotography.com.

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