Andrea Bakacs

This is my favorite image and I'm lucky to say that I made it. It's my favorite because it reminds me of everything I was and didn't know, and everything I found out I am and will always be. It was taken on a regular trip up to the mountains to snowboard, which was always my first love even before photography. The place is Oregon, my home state. I'm originally Hungarian from Romania, specifically from the northwest portion called Transylvania, so my love of the woods and mountains goes back much further than going up in the wilderness of Oregon.

I started riding Mt. Hood as soon as my family had enough money to rent skis, at about 13 years old, not long after getting our green cards. I continued doing so up until the decision to leave my very short lived amateur career for the Big Apple to study photography. About an hour from the house I grew up, I remember driving up by myself sometimes in blizzard-like conditions, having to stop and put chains on until my hands were bloody, just like I had to on this day.

The feelings I have in the woods — those existential moments — are what stay and have stayed with me over the years. Even now when I go ride I'm constantly taking my board and gloves off and freezing my hands just to stop and take it all in for a moment, to record what it's like to be there, to be alive, to be in awe, to be in wonder. I'm an environmentalist so I suppose my green beginnings come from growing up near the woods and mountains. That's where I first became aware of how special it all is and just how lucky we are to interact with it the way we do. It's magic really, and that's what this picture will always remind me of.

Andrea was featured in Romka 6 in 2011.