You’re going to break onto the scene in 2014? This is going to be your big Pinkbike debut of your masterful skills, culminating with a victorious sweep of the Picture of the Year competition? Alright, then all you have to do is to be valuable, and be awesome. Every virtue below falls under these rules, but feel free to read through, should you need more clarity. Dylan Sherrard and Stephen Matthews are also here to help teach at the School For Kids Who Can't Turn Good, and Want To Do Other Stuff Good Too.
1. Know how to ride your bike:
This is simple, but seriously! You don't need to be able to do tricks if we're shooting trail riding, but you better be riding your bike, rather than surviving a trail. There is a difference.
| Turning left, and turning right. Stephen Matthews is an ambi-turner. Derek Zoolander take notes.|
| Dylan Sherrard, Merritt BC|
2. Meet Lensmen and Lenswomen:
The following phrase is like fingernails on a chalkboard to me: “We should shoot some time!” Unless you're a time tested visionary athlete, a photographer may hear: “You should shoot photos of me!”
My response isn't limited to a cost-benefit analysis; however photography is my bread and butter. I want to be smart with my time, so I too can go ride my bike. Rather than requesting something from a photographer or filmer, offer them something of value. There are a lot of good riders, so what will make me want to collaborate with you? I'm looking for a combination of skill, vision, ideas, and personality. Tell me about an amazing feature you found, and how nobody has shot it. Or perhaps about something you've tried to capture before, but have failed to do it justice. Be perceptive as a rider to recognize the way things like light hits certain stretches of trail.
If you're a up and coming photographer trying to find athletes to shoot, think about this relationship, but with rolls reversed. You also need to be able to offer riders a specific reason why shooting with you is worth the time.
Photography of action sports is almost exclusively a collaboration between athlete and photographer. Excluding race photography, all moments are created through the communication on the concept of the shot. In an effort to simply describe space and motion, I'll use any combination of: North/South/East/West, left/right, clockwise counter-clockwise, convex, concave, feet, metres, bike lengths, snail's pace or ‘face melting’. Learn the photographer’s way of speaking and communicating! 'Go' and 'No' can sound very similar when you are coordinating the rider's drop in. Double check the photographer is ready, and even try counting yourself in.
| Wait, was that supposed to be the rider's left, or the camera's left? - Stephen Matthews, Lillooet BC|
4. "One more time"
This particular phrase means that you'll be repeating the shot for half an hour. I hope you brought Gatorade!
If you see me standing in a certain spot, think about how it may look through the lens of my camera. If the photographer is shooting straight up the landing of the jump, what trick should you do? Should you go with a no foot can, or suicide no hander? The suicide no hander would look like you're missing your arms, so in this case maybe go with the no foot can.
| Dylan Sherrard, Kamloops Bike Ranch|
| Up and Down, Dylan Sherrard|
| Dylan Sherrard, Kamloops|
Biking is fun, and therefore shooting biking should also be enjoyable. Crack jokes, talk shit about pros, tell me about your stupid friend's pickup line at the bar, tell me about your theory of how quantum superposition was the key to Bruce Lee's remarkably quick reflexes.
| Stephen Matthews looking terribly unamused at the prospect of a deflated tire. With no replacement tube, Stephen stuffed his tire full of moss, sticks, and flowers to ride out. He was soon again smiling. |
7. Buy Photographers Beer:
As a ‘Thank You' for being allowed in our presence, you should be honored.
8. Shut it Down:
Photographers don't ride everything athletes do, so we can lack appreciation for the dangers you see and feel from your angle. Different photographers will push more or less hard to get an athlete to hit a jump or a cliff. So be sure to know your own boundaries. If we haven't shot together before, I don’t know where your comfort zone is.
I can only speak for myself, but I think athletes ride really poorly when they have neck injuries, so I prefer a rider be honest and back down rather than hit something they aren't comfortable to ride.
9. Fake it till you make it:
At a high shutter speed like 1/4000th of a second, a track strand and 80 km/h can look identical, so photographers and riders need to figure out how to convey motion. Some of the time, often times, all the time, this means doing silly little exaggerations to emphasize the appearance of speed.
10. Trail Awareness
Stopping, hiking, and shooting on a trail can be very dangerous. Be incredibly cautious when hiking a piece of trail, or waiting for the photographer to call you into the shot. Keep your ears open, and warn the photog when a different rider is coming through.
| Dylan Sherrard, Kamloops|
I love Slayer, maybe not as much as Alex Pro, but I do. However, if you turn up to shoot wearing a black-as-the-heart-of-a-puppy-killer-in-a-basement-at-midnight band tee, I’ll be more likely to throw rocks at you than try to shoot photos. When in doubt, bring options. Unless you're Alex Pro, in which case, keep being Alex.
Wear a kit that makes sense for the style of terrain and riding you'll be doing. Don't turn up with a full face and a five inch 29er. It doesn't make sense for the set of photos.
However, you should always wear a GoPro while shooting.
13. Backflip the GLC drop:
I'll come shoot it. Not lying, I want to shoot this.
14. Learn Light:
On those bluebird sunny days, know to shoot at sunrise or sunset, typically outside of forests. On cloudy days, shoot in or around forests as long as it's bright. (These rules sometimes can be broken, and when they are broken well, they are amazing). Also, learn how the light moves in places you ride. Example, what is the biggest booter in your town that gets sunrise light?
| Off of which table would you like to eat your green eggs and ham? -Stephen Matthews|
15. Be Photo Steve:
One of my favorite riders to shoot with is Stephen Matthews, mostly because he is talented, largely because he knows these rules and has his own creative vision, and least of all because he is a friend. But, for the sake of this article, we're concerned with the part about creative vision. If Steve had more experience actually shooting cameras, he would be a pretty damn good photographer. He will stop me mid-trail to point out a photo that he sees, and begin picking out all the details of style, timing and composition. I simply stand there, press the button, and collect cheques. Learn to stop photographers to point out cool stuff, and if you have a good idea, try to orchestrate a shot or two. Be photo Steve.
16. Don't look at the Camera:
Don't ask to see the camera after every shot. The exception is if you are trying to dial in style, or the photographer seems to be asking you to do something that seems counter-intuitive. Then ask to see what you can do to fix it.
After the shoot, ask the photographer how you can see copies of the photos. When you get the shots, or a proofing gallery, always ask permission before using them for anything, or sharing them with anyone.
| Dylan Sherrard, Kamloops BC|
| Stephen Matthews, Lillooet BC|
17. Turn up on time:
Don't be a skid.
18. Self Promote:
Always talk yourself up, and push your social media handles on the photographer. Shoot Instagram photos over the photographer's shoulder while s/he is shooting other athletes. Get the photographer to follow you on all the channels you can think of. #BestDayEver #EpicLight #SkidThroughBerms Follow me, Dylan and Stephen's #instabangers, #crushstagrams and #instanugs @stephen_matthews @dylan_sherrard @reubenkrabbe
19. Learn Patience:
Photographers are mountain bikers who weren't good enough to be in front of the lens. We drag ass on the trail, and take several minutes to decide between f8 and f11. Or, we decide a view isn’t pretty enough, so we transplant a patch of yellow flowers into the foreground of our picture. CoughDanCough. Amuse yourself, regale some bar stories, hand the photographer another beer.
| Mr. Sherrard in his splendor|
Why are Dylan and Stephen the focal point of this here post?
Stephen is included because Photo Steve supplements my scotch budget. And, these words from Dylan's mouth inspired this post: "I was walking around on that trail Razorback, looking for cool angles at sunset and thought the little hill rollover would have better light with the spring sunset, rather than august sunset like last time." OR, "Yeah, I've got this one line that I'm saving for Barham which we chatted about because…"
Legends at #6, they get a gold stars for the rest of the numbers, and, it helps that they're pretty incredible at #1.
*Derek Zoolander references plagiarized out of the brain of Bruno Long
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