Hotshot Imaging

Hotshot Imaging is California’s premier whitewater rafting photography company – based in the heart of the American River Valley in California’s beautiful gold country in Lotus California. Stop in after your rafting trip and view your awesome rafting images! It’s quick, easy, and fun!

We’d like to feature one of our most successful photographers who has been with us from Day 1: Dennis Stiff. We interviewed him recently about his experiences:

HSI: How long have you been shooting on the river?

DS: Since June 1982

HSI: How did you first get started doing this?

DS: Got back from Vietnam in 1970. A friend got me a job in the desert near Death Valley, drilling and mapping out clay deposits for a mining operation. Left in mid-1982 and returned to California when a friend told about an ad he saw at Sacramento City College for a river photographer up in Coloma. I called up and talked to Ronnie (Leder-Adams) at RapidShooters and was hired. I had been shooting photographs of street people in Las Vegas as well as in the desert near Lathrop Wells where my jobs were but needed to learn whitewater photography. James Thomson, taught me the where, how, and why of it. Manual focus, one-touch zooms, and Nikon F2’s.

In the early 80’s customers used to order from examples of what their pictures looked like at the rapid. These were printed and mailed. The term was called “selling blind”.

HSI: How many pictures do you think you’ve taken over the years? (best guess)

DS: Over 1 million. I used to keep track of the numbers over the years.

HSI: What’s your favorite part of your job?

DS: Crossing the river with all the equipment using boogie boards or kayaks and that adrenaline rush I got when getting slammed with boats, trying to get the shots. I love it! I love it!

HSI: What’s the worst part of your job?

DS: Not being heard by a**hole bosses.

(Editor’s note: his boss is conducting this interview with him)

HSI: When did you get into photography?

DS: I went to the University of Mexico in Albuquerque with an early Polaroid camera getting a major in Poli Sci/International Relations. I was drafted out of college in mid-1968. I picked up a 35mm camera in Vietnam and tried to record what that was all about. When I got out of the army, I got a job at the Post Office for 3 months. Moved to desert in 1972 for a job and then left to go back to school for Film & Television but didn’t finish. I then moved back to the desert in 1974 till early June 1982. Then finally moved back to Sacramento.

HSI: Favorite camera?

DS: Nikon F2 then and now the Nikon D4S and D810.

HSI: How long do you think you’ll keep shooting?

DS: As long as I can. I’m 73 now.

(Editor’s note: He has the best hair though).

HSI: Advice for taking a better picture?

DS: Intensity. Every day it’s like the first day I ever shot. Get into the photo. Look at everything in the photo but don’t worry about perfection. Be active.

HSI: Favorite rapid ever?

DS: Satan’s Cesspool & Maytag and Big Dummy on the Yuba.

HSI: Is it true you used to swim across Chamberlain’s Falls to get the best shot?

DS: True… Chamberlain has a wicked recycle but gives you the best shot.

HSI: Favorite sequence of shots?

DS: In the early 90’s – Beyond Limits at Big Dummy on Yuba.

HSI Note: Most famous shot:

August 2004 shot of Arnold Schwarzenegger going through TroubleMaker featured in People Magazine.

Hotshot Imaging
7308 Hwy 49, Lotus CA 95651