Doug Pensinger, a Colorado-based photographer who frequently braved the hillside at domestic World Cup races to capture action shots of the best ski racers, died of cardiac arrest in his sleep on June 10, 2016, at his home in Golden. He was 51.
He started his professional photography career at age 15 as a freelance newspaper photographer in his native Pennsylvania in 1980. After a stint at Penn State University, he landed his first staff job at the Gannett-owned Public Opinion in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania.
Pensinger attended Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara, California, and simultaneously worked as a staff photographer at the Santa Barbara News Press. Contacts made with President Reagan’s press pool helped solidify relationships that would launch a freelance career in Washington, D.C., which included The Washington Post, The Associated Press, TIME Magazine and Sports Illustrated.
Connections in Washington D.C. also helped him land a position in niche media with The Army Times Publishing Company. News coverage included the invasion of Panama, the Gulf War, unrest in Bosnia and humanitarian aid in Somalia. He found balance to the world of military coverage by shooting freelance sport assignments for Allsport Photography.
A subsequent staff position with Allsport evolved into a position with Getty Images after its acquisition of the Allsport agency in 1998. At the time of his passing, he was a staff photographer for Getty Images Editorial Sport which included assignments in both popular and obscure sporting events including multiple Olympic Games, World Championships, Tour de France races, World Cups, World Series and Super Bowls.
“Doug was a master storyteller who intrinsically understood the value of human emotion. His images are ageless proof of that, but even more, Doug had a genuine way of connecting with people which instantly made them feel loved. It was the way he spoke with his full self. The man could hug you and make you feel better with a few words and a laugh. Even if sitting on the other side of a press room, a restaurant table, a halfpipe,” noted former U.S. Ski Team Press Officer Doug Haney. “Often, I take stock of who I am with the goal of using that reflection to become a better person. Doug has always helped guide those thoughts. He always will.”
He is survived by his wife of 25 years, Bettyann Heppler, his daughter Devan Rae Heppler Pensinger (21), his father Thomas R. Pensinger, and his sister Kim Pensinger Witman.
A memorial celebration will be held at Evergreen Lake House, 29612 Upper Bear Creek Road, Evergreen, Colorado 80439 on Tuesday, June 28 from 2 to 5 p.m. Additionally, a memorial scholarship fund is being established, and details will be available at dougpensinger.com when available.
A collection of some of Doug Pensinger’s more memorable shots of World Cup ski racing during his time with Getty Images:
Cover image and internal photo of Pensinger courtesy of Jonathan Selkowitz