Ben's Lens: An interview with Colin

Ben's Lens: An interview with Colin "Skinny" Hagan

November 09, 2020

[BB]Better late than never I guess. Since July or August you have been shooting all in house photography for DV as well
as helping me to keep up with our social media pages. Prior to that you had shot lifestyle content with me a few times
as a fill in. Tell everyone a little bit about the dude we call “Skinny.”

[Colin]Well Ben, I was born outside of Philly, in Bucks County, and did most of my growing up just North of Dallas Tx. I loved snowboarding growing up! About 8 years ago I had an opportunity to move out to Fort Collins with a buddy and jumped at it! I knew I loved the mountains already and within the year had moved to Vail. Since then I have been working in the Ski Industry or Hospitality side of things here in Vail. I am currently working as a Sales Rep for Giro, Blackstrap and Level Gloves here in Eagle County and Summit County along with working for Drinking Vessels.

The first time we met was on the hill a few years ago when a mutual friend introduced us. It was early season but
there was a lot of snow and we dropped some small cliffs in the trees coming down Northwoods at Vail. I was definitely struggling to keep up! How often do you get out on your board?

I try to be on it as much as possible!! It is the reason I moved out here in the first place. When I first moved here and worked at the base of the mountain I was on the hill between 75-100 days a season. Now that my life is a little busier, we will see but 50-100 days a year sounds real nice!

What kind of setup are you riding?

I am a big fan of Mervin boards, they make Gnu and LibTech Snowboards. As of right now I ride either a Gnu Box Scratcher, Gnu Mullair, Lib Tech TRS or a Yes 420. Everyone of them has a different purpose and a different day that I choose to ride that board. As I stated before I also work in the Ski Industry, so I won’t head out for a day on the hill without my Giro Helmet, I ride a Emerge or Jackson, my Giro googles, I wear Contacts or Contours, my BlackStrap Therma Tube and all Leather Level Gloves 

Is there anyone more well known than you around Vail? Every time we’re out in public together it seems like everyone is saying your name!

Depends on what bars you frequent lol. I have had the amazing opportunity to work and live in this mountain town for going on 8 years or so. In that time I have worked a few jobs in both villages and being the social butterfly and hilarious (maybe just loud) person I am makes it easier for people to remember me, or at least remember a guy named “Skinny.” But, I love Vail and the amazing community of locals that we have here. They're the reason I'll stay for years and years in this valley we all call home.

What’s your favorite Restaurant/Bar in Vail?

Root and Flower, which we use for our “Bar Photo Shoots” is one of my favorite bars and restaurants in town. They really make some of the best Cocktails in town, and Chef Matt crushes a food menu that changes every couple months! Keeping it fresh and fun. I drink at Vendettas Pizza place probably too much in town as well and love that spot. Quick pizza and one of the only late night spots for food in Vail, with a great staff of amazing folks here in town! You can also find me crushing tacos at El Segundo often as well. Awesome food and atmosphere for sure!

How and why did you end up in this position working with me?

I was shooting photography for fun. I really enjoyed shooting nature and the mountains that surround the beautiful area we are able to live. During the summer I had the opportunity to shoot for a Kombucha Company called Wild Tonic. Kombucha is a drink so it should go in a Drinking Vessel so we linked up! That was our first shoot together. I started to help fill in from there but all very organic and I have been trying to learn as I go!


When did you get into photography?

About 5 years ago I bought my first DSLR Camera and started shooting for fun.

What were you shooting before we started working together?

Landscape mostly. Above I explained our first shoot together and that was the first real photos I took with people in them, not just friends out camping. I really enjoyed Landscape for the contrast and trying to capture the beauty I saw in front of me and saving it. I have always wanted my photos to look as close to what my eye saw as possible. I also love shooting Night Photography of the stars and our amazing Galaxy. The vastness of Space and how little we know intrigues me and I love how my camera can pull bits of light out of that vastness and make it a beautiful scene.



Tell us about your camera and lenses.

I have a Nikon D5500 and it is the 2nd DSLR camera I have owned. I bought a kit that came with two lens, 70-300mm and 18-55mm. After using those two lenses for a year or two for Landscape Photography I upgraded a little and got a 55mm Prime Lens, this lens is better for Portrait Photography and is a fixed focal length. I love the set up I have at the moment, the next lens I am looking at will work well for Landscape and Portrait as well.

Do you have a favorite picture you have taken?

It’s really hard to pick just one photo! I have so many great photos (in my mind) that depict different scenes and styles of photography, so I’ll share a couple with you.


Who is your favorite photographer?

Wow, this is a hard question for me. I really enjoy Nature and Landscape Photography, and so I follow a lot of local photographers in CO for that kind of content. Scott Bellow (@scottbellow) is a local Vail photographer who takes some really amazing Landscape shots. The homie Stephen Ross AKA Scuba ( is still learning a lot of shit on the fly and his photos crush!! He has been a good friend for a while and is turning into an
amazing photographer. Brooke Bartleson (@brookelittlebear) takes Wildlife Photography, some of my favorite as well, and was a Summit Co local for many years and have an amazing way of connecting with animals! I also really enjoy live music and wish I was better at that kind of photography. The homie Carmen Adams (@carmenhousecatphotography) who is a good friend and amazing photographer out of Denver who has a great style and takes amazing photos! Brady Cooling (@bradycoolingisnotcool) takes photos of some of my favorite musical artist that blow me away from all over the country.

How long did it take you to feel confident shooting cups in the light-box? What are some of the challenges? How are
you trying to improve in the light-box?

It is still a slight struggle every day, working through issues with every new cup. The set up with the lighting at the moment is pretty close to where the cups are so the glare is a big thing to deal with especially with clear cups. This was a whole new avenue for me like I stated before so it was a large learning curve in the beginning. I just try to keep working at it and keep improving where I can, we are also gonna be upgrading our light-box soon so that will help!! A lager light-box with give more space for the lighting and also allow up to raise the height so I can use a tripod finally while shooting. If anyone has seen a Live Stream or Story on our Instagram, they have seen me on the floor hunched over trying to take photos in the light-box.



You’ve also been learning new photo editing software recently. Why don’t you tell everyone about what you did to fix the visual layout on my website.

I had previously worked with LightRoom, from PhotoShop, to edit my Landscape and Lifestyle photos so I kept using that when I started with you. The learning curve was the masking of the Lightbox photos to create the pure white background that our product photos have. With most cups this involves “painting” all the white space around the cups and then changing just that part of the photo to pure white. To do this process I pretty much finger paint on the I pad around the cups and it’s honestly part of the job I enjoy a lot. Its meditative. I also helped to update the website. This involved looking through every product on the website to make sure that they were uniform. This included the descriptions but also re editing or reshooting some of the product photos, so it was a rather large task. We also updated the look of the website with new lifestyle photos that better represented where we were as a company.

How would you describe a D.V. lifestyle photo shoot? Let us know about our casual shoots at the studio, as well as our bigger productions around town.

It’s a really fun thing that we get to do. We are lucky enough to live in the Beautiful State of Colorado, and in the Town of Minturn, so we have beautiful places to shoot all around us! A normal shoot at the studio consists of having a friend drop by and having them take a photo with the cups we have at the studio. This is normally shot down by the river behind the studio. We also set up actual photo shoots with friends/friends of friends around town. We reach out to the community around us and set up shoots around town outdoors during the Summer months and indoors more during the Winter months.

Where do these amazing models come from?

Mostly just friends of ours and friends of friends. We live in a pretty tight knit little mountain town full of active beautiful people, who like getting their photos taken.



Aside from your compensation, how much money would you say we spend on an average photo shoot?

The bar tab at Root and Flower if we are shooting there, just what goes into the cups honestly. Like I said we know most of the people so a T-Shirt and a little gift from Drinking Vessels goes a long way after a fun photo shoot.

You’ve been at the studio 4-5 days a week over the last few months. How would you describe a day in the life?

My day starts before hitting the studio, right when I wake up at 8am. I start my day checking our social media accounts to see what happening on our post are doing and then I start editing content for our Website, Instagram and FaceBook. We try to set up and shoot multiple photo shoots a week, so depending on the day that can take up a large chunk of the afternoon or evening. From those photo shoots and our product shoots at the studio, there is a lot of content to edit. I spend anytime not shooting, at the studio editing on the couch and uploading products to our website with you. Around 5-6pm I call it a day, unless we have a shoot that night and I just keep on going till that’s done, usually around 8pm. Then it starts all over again!

If you could share one piece of insight here from behind the scenes about my studio and my brand that people don’t see from social media what would it be?

It takes a lot of time and energy to keep this machine going, but it’s also a lot of fun!

Do you have a favorite cup that you’ve shot for me?

I was really a big fan of the Moon Pints from jake_c_glass.



What’s on your wish list from the site? You have quite the collection coming along!

Ya I have snagged a few cups outta your hands since I started working at the studio full time. I really enjoy functional glass pieces like the Jake C above so in my collection that’s what I have the most of. I use my Ed Wolfe tumbler and also my Melissa Beth Ceramic Grateful Dead Mug on the daily. What better way to drink coffee then out of an “Eyes of the World” lyric Dead Mug.

What type of tunes are you on these days?

I listen to all kinds of music from Jam and Bluegrass to Electronic and Hip Hop so for me it depends on how I’m feeling at that moment. Big Big fan of Local Colorado boys The String Cheese Incident, they are easily my favorite band and who I travel the most to see. The Grateful Dead and Widespread Panic also play the soundtrack to my life pretty well. I also love seeing most bluegrass music Kitchen Dwellers, Billy Strings, GSBG, Infamous Stringdusters to name a few great ones! While working I usually listen to Hip Hop or some chiller Electronic music: Clozee, Charlesthefirst, Ott, J Cole, Meek Mill, Eartrhgang, Wu-Tang. Music is a huge part of my life and can change and effect so many things in our life’s, so find music that makes you vibe no matter what and roll with it!

What are your other hobbies besides snowboarding and shooting on your camera?



Live Music is a huge one for me and I love being on the road and seeing new places. Camping in new spots and exploring with friends are some of my favorite things, now throw some live music into that trip and I’m set!

What is the most unexpected thing you have learned over the last few months working with me at the studio?

How much glass sells for!! Blew my mind and continues to do so.

What is the most outrageous thing about me? You’ve had a first row seat of how my brain works for a few months now.

Haha the first row seat can be a little scary and crazy! We usually have numerous projects that you and I are focused on at one time which can be very overwhelming. It amazes me with how many things you can keep track of honestly, cause I get lost.

Anything else people should know about you?

I really enjoy rafting in the summer, my roommate has a raft so I’m lucky enough to get to ride on that often! I also love dogs, my roommate just got a puppy so we have a little guy named Ripple running around the house. Excluding all that, I’m just a normal guy trying to make it in a mountain town.



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