"The older we get, the better we were"
The quote is a typical Gary Bigham. For decades he has been pumping out creative, hilarious, and sometimes offensive ideas. The Gary Bigham Archive is a revitalized collection of his best work from the skibum era of the 1970s, 80s and 90s.
Gary refused to digitize the archive himself. So, his films and slides were dug out, sorted, digitized, and are being rightfully managed by family and close friends. The mission is to keep his legacy alive, bring memories back and make them accessible for those who were there, as well as for the new generation of skiers.
Image above: Gary filming monoskier Pierre Vuarnet with his 16mm camera, 1984.
Who is Gary Bigham?
To describe him in writing is a challenge, Gary should be experienced. But here’s an attempt at a brief bio of our friend and dad…
Doing his daily push-ups.
Originally from humble beginnings in Detroit, Michigan, Gary Bigham fled to the Swiss alps in his early 20s with one mission: to ski. He has lived in Chamonix France since 1975 and has become an obscure skilebrity – many call him a living legend. He skied freestyle for Switzerland, Italy, New Zealand, Sweden, and France, and has successfully avoided the 9-5, filling in the gaps as a photographer, filmmaker, musician, entertainer, chef, and host. Gary combines his multi-talents always with a flair of humor to support a unique life guided by fun and passion.
Gary with his daughter Guri at Les Grands Montets
His images and films have reached the greatest ski magazines and catalogs, and the most popular film festivals. Here with legendary free skier Patrick Vallencant, skiing the Glacier du Mont Blanc – filmed and photographed from a helicopter...before drones were even invented.
This story from 1994 gives you a pretty good idea of who he was back then – a ski-bum, host, free skier, freestyle ski team member, guide, gourmet chef, musician, artist, entertainer, photographer, filmer...and single dad.
The archive – a crowdfunded project
“When my friends and I started to pull out the archives in the fall of 2021, my dad said he thought we wouldn’t dare to dig this up while he was still around. We say the time is now to gather his stories and honor his legacy while he's here to give us a hard time about it. We know this archive will bring skiing memories back to life and most importantly laughs. The stories hidden within his slides and films are not only hilarious, but they have also been untold for too long. Immense gratitude to our crowd-funders who have made this possible!”
– Guri Bigham, Gary's daughter
Films – 4 ski films digitized
A ski bag under a bed was filled with Gary’s 16 mm film rolls. The four most epic ones have been digitized, cleaned, and color-adjusted. The music and sound have been re-mastered. They will be available online. A special version with the “Director’s Commentary” will be also be produced and available at a later stage. More
1983 Vitamin Ski
1985 Life is a Beach in the Alps
1986 Ski Tangle Tango
1991 Captain Powder in I’d Rather be Skiing Than Happy with You
Photos – thousands of slides scanned
In the first round, some 2.500 slides have been scanned into high-resolution digital files. They are all categorized and we are now creating collections with premium images that will be cleaned and retouched. More
Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard dubbed this image "One of my favorite photos of pile in use". Gary has delivered photos to Patagonia for decades and is still delivering new ones for catalogs, books, and magazines. This glass framed original was stored in a plastic pocket deep down in one of the boxes. Now it is safe and sound – scanned, cleaned, and backed up on several hard drives.
Prints – signed in limited editions
Premium collections are being printed on exclusive art paper and sold as Photo Art. Available in numbered, limited editions and signed by Gary.
These are samples of the "Chamonix 80s Collection" released in 2022 – honoring true Chamonix ski bums from the 1980ies. These are available for sale at the bar Le Petit Social in Chamonix, or by direct order via our online web shop.
Samples from the 2022 Chamonix Collection. The 2023 Spring Ski Collection will be
released when the spring snow is at its best. Stay tuned...
Slideshow – a documentary to be...
Gary’s legendary slideshow, shown in after-ski bars, restaurants, and at events throughout the years, is being produced into a documentary film, with hilarious stories and lots of namedropping from back in the days...
If you were at one of his slideshows, you'd remember this one: Monoskier Pierre Vuarnet repeatedly lost his monoski when Gary filmed him with his 16 mm camera – while both of them were doing a backflip.