I am catching up with my inbox and a variety of to do lists since getting home from Whistler on Monday afternoon. It was a pretty intense week in Whistler and driving back into Vancouver was a challenge. After a week of walking, bikes and tall trees, the sheer scale of the city filled me with anxiety. The noise, the traffic and the expanses of concrete and asphalt left me looking over my shoulder toward Whistler wishing that it was easier to stay.
Today’s images are from the Whip Off contest on Crabapple Hits just below mid mountain. The Whip Off must be among the most exciting Crankworx events to photograph. The quarters are small, the airs huge and the crowds are very enthusiastic. There were no shortages of close calls for photographers and spectators alike, and I even managed to catch a tumbling bike and rider.
The challenge with events like the Whip Off is that the action directly in front of the camera is generally so exciting that I found it difficult to pull back and consider not just the individual components, but the event as a whole including riders, the terrain, spectators and the scores of photographers on hand. I’ve been looking at the work of other photographers that were on site last Friday with envy and humility. What I see in the photography of others is often what I have missed in my own approach to a scene.
Crankworx produces such great photography every year, in part because it attracts so many of the most recognized names in the industry, but also because of the sheer numbers of photographers who descend on Whistler every year. You can’t swing a GoPro at the end of a pole without poking a guy in his 300 f2.8. Crankworx is a glass fest and the competition is fierce.
This is what the Whip Off looked like to me, but you should also check out the action at Pink Bike:
Pink Bike’s look at the Whip Off Worlds.
I had to pull the plug last night, late last night, after two days that felt like four and several hours of editing that included photos for SUPERDROP, Burgoo, Crankworx and the 2013 Squamish Arc’teryx 50 Ultra Marathon. It’s been a busy week, but work is like dinner; better to be looking at it than for it. I arrived in Whistler late Sunday night after a truly epic day on course in Squamish where more than 500 runners challenged one of three events, 23 km, 50 km and 50 Mile courses, all of which pushed runners to their limits and sometimes beyond. I got to see first hand runners pushing through their walls in the last 6 km of course, some in tears and others cursing Race Director Gary Robbins for being, sick, sadistic and evil for his trail choices.
At some point last night, close to 1 am, the world around me went black as the power went out turning my iMac lit room absolute black; it was time to pack it in for the day, I had hit my productivity wall. Working through photos late at night is often necessary to meet deadlines, especially when the calendar is full. The tough thing, however, is that it’s also the time of day when I see more errors than successes, and my frustration starts to grow exponentially. It is a humbling experience to distill, edit and reevaluate images that live up to no reasonable expectation. Saturday started so early that by the time I sat down for dinner at 10 pm that night, Saturday morning felt like the day before. Sunday had a similar quality.
I have been working through these projects but felt like it was time to share a few pictures from my Saturday with the Squamish Arc’teryx 50. Thanks to Race Directors Gary Robbins and Geoff Langford for having me along for their first season of the Coast Mountain Trail Series and the second year of the Arc’teryx 50.
What must be close to two years ago, I contributed several days of photography, totaling more than 2000 images shot over six or seven individual shoots for Hana Dethlefsen’s ‘Let’s Cooking’ cookbook project. Hana’s book is now on Indiegogo where she’s seeking crowd funding to finance a limited publication run.
The project can be found here: Let’s Cooking on Indiegogo
But check out what Hana, and others, have to say about her book:
Here are a couple of images featured in the book; a $25 contribution gets you your own copy, plus all the great photos seen inside! <wink, wink, nudge, nudge>
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.
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!
Turning the camera is good advice. Advice that was often heard in the halls and classrooms of the Photojournalism program I completed ten years ago. Wow, ten years. There has been a lot of mileage racked up in that time and a lot of turning of cameras. Perhaps there is no coincidence that within a year of graduating I was shooting 360 degree panoramic images for hospitality and tourism clients, and in traveling the globe for a lot of that work, the world continued to turn under me. Somehow I don’t think my instructors meant their advice so literally. It was also a huge turn from working at a newspaper and though I no longer do that kind of work there are days when I miss both experiences; telling stories and capturing moments to be shared on newsprint and looked at by perhaps hundreds of thousands of readers and producing images capturing elements of style, design and far off places of luxury.
If you’ve been looking at my photos, or have looked through a few of my galleries, you may have already guessed that I have a strong interest in cycling, it goes back to childhood. One of the lessons that wasn’t taught when I was at school was that it wasn’t enough to be interested in photography alone. Photographers need to be interested and curious about the world they live in whether surrounded by family, food, design, heartbreak or even cycling. Start by photographing what you love and what you are passionate about and let the rest unfold. If you don’t like what you see try changing your perspective, try turning your camera. I shot this image in Whistler, BC on a sunny Saturday in May, and to capture this frame I had to take that advice from so many years ago. I turned the camera. In this case I turned it straight up.