Burton Girls

Behind the Lens of Jesse Dawson, Burton Staff Photographer

Jesse Dawson is a professional photographer, an expert at crocheting, and a total daredevil—but she didn’t always identify as a “creative” person.

In high school, she almost dropped photography because she didn’t think the arts were her forte. Thanks to a great teacher, she stuck with it and hasn’t looked back since. From art school, to a NYC internship, to her job as a lifestyle photographer at Sports Authority, she’s been developing her skills and creative eye for years. After getting a job at Burton, she packed up and moved from Colorado to Vermont (a state she had never visited) and made it home: a move she considers “one of the best decisions of my life.”

We couldn’t tell our stories without Jesse, but we rarely get the full picture. Here's her perspective on some career highlights so far.

Keystone, Colorado

               
  • A candid of Kimmy & Kelly in Keystone, 2015.

    A candid of Kimmy & Kelly in Keystone, 2015.

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  • Photo by the one and only Blotto.

    Photo by the one and only Blotto.

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  • Cheesin' with Kimmy since day one.

    Cheesin' with Kimmy since day one.

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  • Kelly Clark and I had a shoot off.

    Kelly Clark and I had a shoot off.

My first photoshoot with Burton was in 2015 in Keystone. It was my first chance to shoot a big campaign. I was crazy nervous and I had to take a lot of deep breaths and really believe in myself. Meeting Kelly Clark, Kimmy Fasani, and all the team riders for the first time was wild. So many butterflies! Luckily, the crew was so great and welcoming. I felt like part of the family right away.

Mammoth, California

               
  • The crew in Mammoth, CA, 2015.

    The crew in Mammoth, CA, 2015.

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  • My first shoot on-snow with Burton. Couldn't ask for a better view.

    My first shoot on-snow with Burton. Couldn't ask for a better view.

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  • Donna & Kimmy, two of my favorites I've photographed over the years.

    Donna & Kimmy, two of my favorites I've photographed over the years.

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  • Donna leading the pack.

    Donna leading the pack.

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  • Another great portrait of Donna. This is a rare one because she usually likes to flip me off (a sign of love around here).

    Another great portrait of Donna. This is a rare one because she usually likes to flip me off (a sign of love around here).

My first on-snow shoot was with Kimmy and Donna Carpenter in Mammoth, right after Kimmy’s Amusement Park event. It was a different type of shooting: I had never taken photos while snowboarding and had to learn quick. At one point, I even had to ask Donna to slow down because she’s so fast. It was either that, or come back with no photos. Now, I can keep up with her. :)

Banff, Alberta, Canada

               
  • I still claim this as the prettiest place I've ever stood. The color of the water, the sky, the mountains... Melrose is cute, too.

    I still claim this as the prettiest place I've ever stood. The color of the water, the sky, the mountains... Melrose is cute, too.

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  • One of my favorite photos from our trip to Banff. The mist from the waterfall adds so much dimension.

    One of my favorite photos from our trip to Banff. The mist from the waterfall adds so much dimension.

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  • Caution, bears! A photo of me and this cool sign.

    Caution, bears! A photo of me and this cool sign.

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  • I love the layers of this photo, Winter up top, Fall down below.

    I love the layers of this photo, Winter up top, Fall down below.

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  • This was really early in the morning. I've never seen a lake so still.

    This was really early in the morning. I've never seen a lake so still.

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  • A glacier walk with Danny Davis. We drank the water here and now I think I'll live forever.

    A glacier walk with Danny Davis. We drank the water here and now I think I'll live forever.

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  • Melrose and Tammara happy to explore Canada.

    Melrose and Tammara happy to explore Canada.

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  • This bus was pretty awesome.

    This bus was pretty awesome.

Shooting in Banff was incredible, it’s impossible to take a bad photo there. Everywhere you point the camera is gorgeous. Later, I found out that I was on the same glacier my father had ice climbed and gotten into an avalanche 20 years earlier. (It took some of his fingers, but he’s all good now.) It’s interesting to share those memories and find out about other people’s adventures in places I’ve been.

New Zealand

               
  • The views of New Zealand are even better from the sky.

    The views of New Zealand are even better from the sky.

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  • Tavia Bonetti, Anna Gasser, and I took a little side trip to this rocky beach.

    Tavia Bonetti, Anna Gasser, and I took a little side trip to this rocky beach.

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  • I took so many photos up there.

    I took so many photos up there.

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  • I knew the nut cracker hit my head, but I didn't realize how much I was bleeding till I took my beanie off at the lodge. Now it's my lucky beanie. Thanks for the photo, Gabe L'Heureux.

    I knew the nut cracker hit my head, but I didn't realize how much I was bleeding till I took my beanie off at the lodge. Now it's my lucky beanie. Thanks for the photo, Gabe L'Heureux.

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  • These colors!

    These colors!

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  • I couldn't get over how the mountains seemed endless.

    I couldn't get over how the mountains seemed endless.

The other day Sangee Manoharan asked me what my favorite and least favorite photoshoots have been. If I HAVE to answer this question, my favorite shoot was our trip to New Zealand. It had been on my wish list for so long and it was a dream to go there with Burton. Flying into this country filled with snowcapped mountains that just go on and on… my camera and face were smashed into the window. I’m sure my face was priceless, I was in total awe. Anna Gasser, Tavia Bonetti, and I were even lucky enough to fly in a little jumper plane while we were there. It was my favorite shoot, but New Zealand is also the only place I’ve gotten injured on the job (knock on wood). I had a bad run-in with a nut cracker. Google them, they’re crazy. The medic told me he had to shave my head to stitch it back together. I cried a little and then drank a beer, then he yelled at me for drinking with a head injury. He also lied, he only had to cut my hair a little.

Fernie, British Columbia, Canada

               
  • Kimmy Fasani rippin' through Fernie.

    Kimmy Fasani rippin' through Fernie.

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  • All smiles and covered in snow.

    All smiles and covered in snow.

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  • Another one of Kimmy. I can't get enough of her riding pow.

    Another one of Kimmy. I can't get enough of her riding pow.

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  • Riding through waist-deep powder with all my camera gear is always a good workout.

    Riding through waist-deep powder with all my camera gear is always a good workout.

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  • Catching flakes with Tavia & Kimmy.

    Catching flakes with Tavia & Kimmy.

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  • The storm was crazy. We had great snow, but lots of obstacles stood in our way.

    The storm was crazy. We had great snow, but lots of obstacles stood in our way.

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  • Got a few laps in with no backpack (HUGE smiley face).

    Got a few laps in with no backpack (HUGE smiley face).

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  • Took this shot of Danny Davis on our first day of shooting and it ended up in one of our winter 2018 ads.

    Took this shot of Danny Davis on our first day of shooting and it ended up in one of our winter 2018 ads.

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  • Here's the ad at our Innsbruck, Austria storefront. So fun to see these shots blown up like this!

    Here's the ad at our Innsbruck, Austria storefront. So fun to see these shots blown up like this!

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  • Snowstache.

    Snowstache.

Our winter shoot in Fernie was quite the adventure. Three of us went out early to scout locations and we got stuck on the wrong side of Crowsnest Pass. We were snowed in for a few days and the whole crew was delayed, which took away from the time we needed to get photos. We made the most of our limited time, and these shots from that trip are some of my all-time favorites. Look at how much pow we had to play with!

Mammoth, California

               
  • The method from Chloe that ended up in a TransWorld Magazine back-page ad.

    The method from Chloe that ended up in a TransWorld Magazine back-page ad.

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  • A behind-the-scenes shot from designer John Brown.

    A behind-the-scenes shot from designer John Brown.

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  • The back cover! Chloe did all the hard work, but I'm still pretty proud.

    The back cover! Chloe did all the hard work, but I'm still pretty proud.

We booked our tickets on a Tuesday and flew out the next day. Chloe Kim was practicing in Mammoth and we needed some photos of her. It was fun being on the halfpipe all day watching her practice her first frontside 1260. Those moments became a winter 2019 Burton ad I am really proud of.

Exploring and traveling has always been a life goal of mine, and I’m lucky my career lets me do it regularly. I’m away from home a lot and I love it. When I’m home, you can find me snuggling with my dog Cooper and enjoying all that New England has to offer. ∆


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