When people discover a talent in themselves, whether they ever fully understand it or not, they are extremely lucky. Few people ever realize a natural ability to excel in a certain task, sport, or job and effortlessly progress to a point where they are able to inspire their friends and family to follow their dreams. Even more rare than embracing that talented state is that people find two separate things they are able to pursue in total confidence. Often times people shy away from a second talent. If they are already talented and successful with one aspect of their life, why worry about adding something else to the plate? Isn't one thing good enough? Luckily for anyone reading this, I don't think Matt Miles has ever asked himself those questions.
Since Matt is half of Silvia he is often behind the lens to.
The first time I ever saw Matt riding a bike was in the fall of 2007 and I think he was 14 years old then. I was riding at the Kamloops Bike Ranch when this short, funny kid on a hardtail with spray painted purple wheels fearlessly stomped his clumsy, adolescent figure up the roll in to the biggest jumps in the park and started sessioning them with all of the older kids on big full suspension bikes. He sailed over the "Big Pack" in a clicked one-foot-table and screamed like a fool before touching his tires back to the dusty earth with a gentleness I'd not yet seen. I could tell there wasn't a serious bone in his body and I liked that a lot about him. I decided he was the smoothest rider I had ever seen and I really hoped that we'd get to be riding buddies someday.
The first time I ever shot a photo with Matty was in the spring of 2008. I didn't even know he had a camera, but a flip gone wrong on a popular step up jump left him sidelined for a while and I guess taking photos of people biking was the next best way for him to pass the time. He asked me to come over and take a peek at a photo he snapped of me while I was still learning to do opposite tables and it was immediately one of my favorite photos of myself. I hadn't seen that particular style of straight legged table shot in such a manner before, but I really liked the way it looked and I still ask photographers to shoot me like that all the time. They always tell me that it's really hard to do. I guess it's easy to lose the riders face behind their front tire, but even to this day Matty seems to nail it first try, every time.
I'm really happy that after the past five years have gone by I got to become not only riding buddies with Matt, but good friends too. I am even happier that he realized his multi-talented nature and never let it get away from him. In front of the camera, Matt rides with a flawless style that many try to fake, but nobody can successfully impersonate. Light on his bike and quick in the turns, it often looks like he is floating down the trail. Popping and pumping so much, his body never stops moving. And behind his camera the style runs just as fluid. His photos are always innovative and so much fun to look at. Rich in texture and presented with such an honest feel.
I really feel like those talents work together. He can ride anything he shoots, so he has a full appreciation for the difficulty of the line. And his knowledge of trickery is so well rounded that there is never a question about which point of a trick he needs to snap the shutter for. The other way around, Matt's full grasp of how things look on a camera enables him to manipulate his riding to the most aesthetically pleasing level possible.
I guess Matty is all grown up now, but he hasn't really changed at all. He still isn't serious, he still takes photos every chance he gets and he is still the smoothest rider I know. And I think he actually screams more often now than when I first met him. This past season has been a big year for Matty with his exposure online and in the magazines as well as his dive into video production. This is Matty's season ender segment and I already can't wait to see what he is up to next year.
Flipping the Demo.
We had enough extra footage from this to make a second video. Check it out on our Facebook page.