Recent Work – 5 Peaks Alice Lake Provincial Park

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I’d like to think that I am at the mid point between two event weekends, but I’m not. My head is spinning because it’s already Thursday and last weekend feels like it was a month ago, which is about how old my last post is. In my defense, May and June have been busy months and though I have had to withdraw myself from some events I was keen to participate in due to injury we now we are into the dark heart of summer event season. It’s on.

I’ve taken on a greater role with 5 Peaks Trail Series and I am super excited to see where it takes me and while I continue to shoot the 5 Peaks BC events I now get to help guide the look and feel of the photography from our other events across Canada. This really kicked off last weekend and while I was shooting the 5 Peaks BC event at Alice Lake Provincial Park in Squamish, BC other photographers were shooting in Alberta and Ontario.

It’s also been a busy period in the Photography community. Recently The Chicago Tribune let go of it’s whole photo staff electing to outfit reporters with iPhones and employing freelancers as necessary. I want to address this issue, but I am still processing what this means, and how I feel about it. This is an issue for another post, or a year’s worth of posts, but for now, I have to let it go. After ‘retiring’ myself from photography late in 2008, I have obviously come back to it but I have come back to an industry deep in transition and very much reflective of Chris Anderson’s Long Tail model. Social media has created a voracious market place for content and the event community is being forced to reevaluate how to use photography and how to pay for it. Photography is no longer a value add, it can no longer be simply a revenue stream, it has to be more. Event photography has to interesting, creative and engaging because, in the era of Social Media, every photo has become a tool of outreach and branding. At it’s best photography should be sharing an experience that others want want in on.

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Saturday in Squamish was a little wetter and a little colder than I had anticipated or prepared for. I definitely failed my Boy Scout training as I left the house in Vancouver unprepared for the conditions in Squamish but somehow I managed through. I even left my shoes on the roof of the car, finding them still there at a stop en route. Squamish is an ideal venue for trail running and Squamish trails are heavily used but also built and maintained by their users. In humping my gear down part of the course known as Credit Line, I came across a trail builder working on a couple of ladders to clean up a section of climbing. I was just as surprised to find out he had no idea that there was an event that morning as he was to look up and see almost 400 runners descend on him and his section of trail repair. Squamish offers an awesome variety of technical trails for runners and mountain bikers, lots of ups and downs under 300 foot trees, this is West Coast trail running at it’s finest, all that’s missing is a salmon bbq and a keg of west coast pale ale!

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Recent Work – 5 Peaks Trail Run at Golden Ears Park

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It’s been a few days since I last made any photos. I would never describe what I do as glamorous, few photographers I know would, though I have been to some cool places. The less glamorous side of photography, however, are the hours of desk sitting, of editing through hundreds or even thousands of event photos, or hours spent spot correcting dust, dandruff or out of place hairs. There are hours of email inquiries, of research, of looking for inspiring content to refresh the batteries. I monitor social media feeds, twitter, facebook, linkedin and flickr and consume my self with site visits, views, retweets and likes. When the weather turns and I have to spend a few more days at my desk than I like, this gets worse and I start to grow restless, anxious and uncomfortable with my own company. It is in the days between shoots that I snack too much, drink too much coffee and tend to forget household chores and leave email unresponded.

These are just a few of the images I shot for Salomon 5 Peaks Trail series last weekend at Golden Ears Park in BC. It was a great way to get the season started in BC for 5 Peaks, new kid’s events, sunshine, and the support of an enthusiastic community of trail runners. I’ve now only been to Golden Ears Park twice, once last year for the same event and again last Saturday. I would like to think that I am more of an outdoors person than I am, so I appreciate that it’s photography that gets me out to places I wouldn’t necessarily consider going just because. Golden Ears Park is gorgeous and is worth a visit.

What’s awesome is that this work doesn’t feel so much like work, especially as I have become friends with so many people involved with the event. I don’t always see everyone on course, but I often hear people yell “Rob!” as they approach me on the trail hoping to get caught in a frame by my camera and a quick hand. We are getting to know one another and I look forward to spending time each weekend in this community even though I am not a runner myself. The impact of social media on events and photography can not be over stated, but for most of us this is a self evident abstraction, but for me, it is a way to generate interest and buzz for my photos. Social media is an instant feedback machine, and I know pretty quickly whether I’ve done well or I botched it, especially with clients who use content driven social media to engage with their communities. Likes, Retweets, views and visits have taken on a cruel meaning in my life and the lives of other photographers producing work destined for the web.

I’m getting ready for another weekend event and look forward to getting back into the trees. I look forward to seeing some of the same faces this Saturday that I saw last Saturday and I look forward to another opportunity to photograph people engaged in something they love.

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Check out what a couple of friends have said in their race reports:

Mike Murphy

Solana Klassen

Shannon Penway

You can see the complete set at the 5 Peaks Flickr page here: 5 Peaks Photos

Get Out There Magazine Cover

Time flies. If it weren’t for the reminders I would say that it was impossible that my last post was in August. As the winter rain settles into the Vancouver skyline I was drawn back to my photos from Crankworx this past summer. What an amazing week and a tremendous opportunity for very intensive shooting. During a conversation a couple of weeks ago with my photography colleagues from CreativeMornings/Vancouver we talked as photographers do and in the process I was asked about a previous position that I held for almost five years. While that job feels like it is from a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, I remember it being a tremendous learning experience, just as my first internship was. What set these experiences apart from others was how intensive they were, how high the bar was set for production, delivery and quality. It was hard work but it was possible to see improvements almost daily and certainly weekly. If you are at school or starting out the best advice I can give is to shoot daily. There are far more elements to being a photographer than most of us will let on to, client care, business development, insurance, incorporation et cetera, et cetera. But to see your craft develop is to shoot as much and as often as you can. Be deliberate in choosing your subjects and photograph your passions. Be passionate about your content.

The time between Crankworx and now has gone by in a blur, some disappointments and some successes and some great clips found in the Whistler Question, Pique News Magazine, The Vancouver Sun, The Georgia Straight and the cover of Get Out There Magazine’s Western Canada Winter 2012/2013 issue (above). You wouldn’t know it by the frequency of my posts but there have been some interesting and touching shoots for the UBC Department of Midwifery and portrait clients and I am happy to say that I also have a new position. The photo above was shot last February at Whistler’s Olympic Park during the Yeti Snowshoe Race Series. Since then I have signed on as Photographer and Photography Manager for 5 Peaks Adventures who manages the Yeti Snowshoe Series, 5 Peaks Trail Running Series, Meet Your Maker Ultra Marathon and others. We are three events into our year and I can’t wait to get on snowshoes early in 2013 for the Yeti.