A Day at the DH World Cup Stage with Laurence Crossman-Emms

Jul 26, 2013
by Simon Nieborak  
 
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In recent years the mountain bike world has been flooded with a stream of media companies, photographers and videographers. As consumers of content, we now have access to amazing images and edits with but a few clicks. The flip-side to the availability of these images is that they become disposable due to the huge amount of content hurtling through cables the world over. We expect to see amazing images as soon as a race is done, but rarely do we think about the time and effort that goes into creating these images.

a day with laurence crossman-emms

Over the last 18 months, Laurence Crossman-Emms has broken cover as one of the UK’s brightest young talents on the MTB circuit. With a raft of POD and VOD’s to his name and the ability to create stunning photo and video, Laurence spent 2012 with his photography as a side job, something to fit around the 9-5.

a day with laurence crossman-emms

However, towards the tail end of the year Laurence found himself with an offer on the table that would help him make the leap from part-time tog to official photographer for a factory World Cup team with Madison Saracen. As one of the UK’s most prolific race teams with a strong team roster that boasts World Championship medals as well as World Cup and National titles amongst its accolades, the job gives a great opportunity for an up and coming photographer to really make their mark.

a day with laurence crossman-emms
a day with laurence crossman-emms

The World Cup season rolled into Fort William with great weather coming as a relief to riders and photographers alike : sitting on an exposed Scottish mountain in the wind and rain with no shelter is hardly up there on most people's wish list.

a day with laurence crossman-emms
a day with laurence crossman-emms
a day with laurence crossman-emms
  Is this what the real life of a pro photographer looks like?

There are a whole host of photographers at a World Cup, from official team guys, through to freelancers, enthusiasts and regular Joe public. Getting “the” shot can be hard when everyone is jostling for a prime spot near a feature. Sometimes you need to take a wander and find an alternative.

a day with laurence crossman-emms
a day with laurence crossman-emms
  This guy with a small compact camera will need to try super hard to take as good photos as a professional photographer Andy Lloyd.

a day with laurence crossman-emms
  Chris Akrigg was helping Victor Lucas by grabbing his second camera and trying to snap a cool shot of some downhill action.

a day with laurence crossman-emms
  Hoshi Yoshida is no stranger to the World Cup circuit.

a day with laurence crossman-emms
  GoPro and be a pro!

a day with laurence crossman-emms
  Is this the next Clay Porter? Who knows...

a day with laurence crossman-emms
  Laurence waiting for some action to go down..

Travel the world, take some photos, sounds like a tough job, right?

First, let's take a closer look at stats of Laurence's experience at the Fort William DH World Cup stage:

Number of Days for Fort William World Cup - 6days - 144hrs
Number of days taking photos - 4 days / 96hrs
Number of photos taken - 5,132
Number of gigabytes of photos - 128.5GB
Number of hours editing (roughly) - 23hrs
Average number of hours spent on shooting - (approx.) 46hrs of camera in hand
Hours spent on travel to/from Fort Willaim - 18hrs
Weight of the backpack - (approx.) 16kgs / 35lbs
Overall Time - Shooting time - Edit Time = Sleep time (27hrs / 5nights of an average 5hrs sleep)

So, I hope you don't like sleeping too much... It was 7am and Laurence was already in the media tent checking off what needs to be done on that day... A quick browse of Pinkbike, a couple of emails, look through Facebook and... he's ready to go!

a day with laurence crossman-emms
a day with laurence crossman-emms
a day with laurence crossman-emms
Meanwhile, Keith Valentine, a photographer also known as Phunkt showed up in the tent. The guys had a small talk and exchanged their experiences from the previous day on Ben Nevis' mountain range.

a day with laurence crossman-emms
Colin Meagher carefully checks off who he can not miss whilst taking photos on that day.

a day with laurence crossman-emms
Ale Di Lullo sipping his early morning coffee to have enough energy for the whole day...

a day with laurence crossman-emms
... of holding his Canon!

It's not just a case of turning up on race day and shooting , the riders and team need to be happy with you sticking a lens in their face at moments of both ecstasy and agony, so a strong relationship with team riders and staff alike is a must.

a day with laurence crossman-emms
a day with laurence crossman-emms
Keeping your client happy is a must when it comes to delivering the goods. From liaising with the Team Manager, to the Saracen Marketing guys, there are a lot of balls to juggle and a lot of opinions flying around, but mainly a lot of people that are stoked on some great images.

However, the whole team has got their own duties and tasks to do and these have to be done no matter what. Being focused and on time with the schedule is a very important thing when working at the World Cup team.

a day with laurence crossman-emms
a day with laurence crossman-emms

OK, let's go to work! Laurence jumps into a gondola together with Phil Atwill, Saracen's team rider.

Winning stare Phil about just before his race run at Fort William World Cup 2013 - Laurence CE - www.laurence-ce.com
a day with laurence crossman-emms
a day with laurence crossman-emms
  This is how much Phil can't wait to ride and Laurence to shoot!

a day with laurence crossman-emms
  Laurence (almost) at the top of Scotland.

a day with laurence crossman-emms
  After a short walk down the track, Laurence has found a first opportunity for a nice shot.

a day with laurence crossman-emms
  Aim...

FMD ride Tahnee Seagrave on to her first Junior WC title - Laurence CE - www.laurence-ce.com
  Shoot!

What I'd like you to understand is that taking a single photo is just a matter of 1/1000th of a second on average, but sometimes it takes many long hours or even days to struck the gold! Here's a breakdown and shortened recipe of how to take a good photo.

a day with laurence crossman-emms
  Wait...

a day with laurence crossman-emms
  Take a photo...

a day with laurence crossman-emms
  Check, save or delete and repeat the whole process again... and again and again and again and again and again...

a day with laurence crossman-emms
  Seriously, waiting is a big part of a photographer's life.

a day with laurence crossman-emms
  And a cinematographer's, as well.

a day with laurence crossman-emms
  Laurence in 'stand-by' mode, but you got to stay alert, because a rider can start descending any second and they are rather fast when riding down.


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Being part of the team set up also means chipping in and helping to make the day run smoothly. From putting up the pits to helping the mechanics carry spares up and down the hill. Just don’t expect riders to help you lug your camera gear up the hill in return!

a day with laurence crossman-emms
a day with laurence crossman-emms
a day with laurence crossman-emms
  Being on a mountainside all day doesn't give you a lot of options for chowing down, so grabbing food whenever you can is a must.

The media tent at a World Cup is a hive of activity, with competing media outlets all trying to get their coverage out to a demanding and expectant audience.

a day with laurence crossman-emms

Short stay in the pits area...

a day with laurence crossman-emms
a day with laurence crossman-emms
a day with laurence crossman-emms
a day with laurence crossman-emms

... only means that it's time to walk up to the lower part of the course.

a day with laurence crossman-emms
a day with laurence crossman-emms
a day with laurence crossman-emms
  More waiting? Not a problem, Laurence already knows the rules of the game...

a day with laurence crossman-emms
  This is one of these moments we all are waiting for!

The sun may have been shining, but that doesn’t mean anything on a Scottish mountainside. There’s still plenty of moisture around to make your day more interesting and make the thought of a clean pair of socks is a pretty exciting prospect

a day with laurence crossman-emms
a day with laurence crossman-emms
a day with laurence crossman-emms
  No matter how difficult obstacles and unpleasant conditions may be, don't take the well known and beaten path...

Laurence doesn't like to stay for too long in one place... Why? It's important to stay mobile and use as many unique angles during the photoshoot as possible. It's a must to be creative at all times, if you want to compete with the best ones in the game. It won't be easy, because photos have been taken at this particular stage for many years now, but not impossible and that is what makes it worthwhile.

a day with laurence crossman-emms
a day with laurence crossman-emms
a day with laurence crossman-emms
a day with laurence crossman-emms
a day with laurence crossman-emms
a day with laurence crossman-emms
a day with laurence crossman-emms
  Being in the right place in the right time is one of the strongest advantages of a good photographer.

a day with laurence crossman-emms
  Laurence decided to shoot with a wide angle lens next to the kicker leading to the big berm.

Mike pinned into the hip before the motorway at the 2013 Fort William WC - Laurence CE - www.laurence-ce.com
  That's a one cool shot taken by Laurence, isn't it?

a day with laurence crossman-emms
  And that's a sneak peak from behind the scene in that particular place.

a day with laurence crossman-emms
  Sometimes you want to be super close to the action...

a day with laurence crossman-emms
  ...or take a few steps back and capture the whole scene and atmosphere of the moment.

a day with laurence crossman-emms
  It's always good to meet a fellow photographer. Here, Laurence hangs out with Boris Beyer from MTBRider Mag.

a day with laurence crossman-emms
  Fortunately, some people don't care about making silly faces to show off, but simply are focused on doing the job!

a day with laurence crossman-emms
  Even when the day at a World Cup is a wrap, Laurence doesn't stop working: he's got one more assignment to do.

a day with laurence crossman-emms

Finally, he could put the camera down and grab a bike himself! It's not 100% hard work, as the occasional moment of downtime does rear its head every now and again! Taking advantage of the Shimano airbag in the middle of Fort William seems like an ideal reward after a hard day on the mountain.

a day with laurence crossman-emms
  After nearly 12 hours of taking photos, coming back to the lodge was a blessing. A few moments to relax the mind and the body.

a day with laurence crossman-emms
a day with laurence crossman-emms
  Believe it or not, but that devil still had power to throw frisbee with Harry Molloy!

a day with laurence crossman-emms
  But it lasted only for a few minutes as Laurence had to sit down and look at how many golden nuggets he picked up on that day. Do I need to mention that he needed to polish them all before morning...?

a day with laurence crossman-emms
a day with laurence crossman-emms
  A cold beer and good company, the prelude to a late night of editing, ready to do it all again tomorrow.

It may involve long days and even longer evenings, but it's all part of the territory and who wouldn’t want to put in the hard graft when you get to take a seat track side with the best racers in the World, week in, week out, at the best courses in the world.

It’s a tough job, but someone’s got to do it!

a day with laurence crossman-emms

PS. Please, don't forget there had to be a photographer to follow this photographer, if you know what I mean...

Website: www.laurence-ce.com

Find Saracen at Saracen.co.uk.


Photos by Simon Nieborak aka Lunatyk
Words by Ian Carter and Simon Nieborak
Must Read This Week

39 Comments

  • + 44
 Good article, much more interesting to see behind the scenes of various aspects of the world cup than endless stupid debates on wheel size!
  • + 3
 Sometimes you need to know if you got the shot. If not, send the rider back up the hill!
  • + 1
 Boris Beyer in that photo looks like Steve Stifler... Haha!
  • + 7
 Awesome writeup. Totally understandable. My Dad was a photographer for the Associated Press (retired now). His hours were crazy and its hard to fathom what it takes to get even some simple photos we just scan through in the news etc on a daily basis. Big props to all photographers. What really sucked were the days before digital cameras. I remember helping my dad pack up a van full of chemicals and darkroom equipment so they could process the photos on site at events, ha
  • + 8
 Is there going to be a 'behind the scenes' of the 'behind the scenes'?
  • + 1
 Is there going to be a behind the scenes of the behind the scenes of the behind the scenes... :-o
  • + 4
 defiantly one of the best mountain bike or action sports photographers there is .....real good article nice to read about the people behind the lens especially as a young photographer, although im getting jealous of there lenses Frown
  • + 7
 Sequence winner right there!
  • + 6
 Anyone else see a bit of Waldo in Lawrence CE?
  • + 2
 he can whip!
  • + 2
 Superb article. Noob question: Why do you have to "Check, save or delete"? Since you've got all that storage in the camera, isn't it easier to just keep shooting and simply pick the good ones when you are on a laptop with a good HD display?
  • + 11
 Less work for later (when time should be spent editing, not deleting pictures). Time spent editing is precious time.. Smile
  • + 3
 There are some photos that you can see on the back of the camera, that really aren't worth keeping to look at on a bigger screen, and it saves a lot of time, especially when you're low on time
  • + 1
 good question, good answer.
  • + 0
 Nice article Surprised he is only using a 7D, changing to a 5Dmk3 if the money is there would make the world of difference with changing nothing in his shooting style. I have 7d, and I know a few who upgraded and the difference in iq is staggering over night. Shame I take the wifes sony rx100 out all the time instead now!
  • + 2
 The 5d mkiii has slower frames per sec than the 7d. Fuk wheel size debates lets debate about cameras! Ahhhh fuk debating. Just ride!!
  • + 0
 I just rode my dh, am, xc, dj bikes all in a few hours, I love living next to the woods.
  • + 2
 This was a great article. Makes me feel somewhat inferior with my little D3000, but cool non the less!
  • + 1
 Awesome, great piece. It's always interesting for the audience to learn how these amazing and compelling images are produced.
  • + 3
 Is that manon carpenter? I met her is morzine couple of week ago Smile
  • + 3
 It can't be such a hard job if you get to hang out with Manon Razz
  • + 1
 learning everyday with professionals of photographic!! good job man, go go go!!
  • + 1
 hi Laurence, I always wondered what gear you are taking with you Smile I really love your pics!
  • + 1
 Making the dive for the Frisbee...
  • + 1
 Simon Nieborak = SZymon Nieborak ? any polish family?
  • + 1
 yes, he is from poland
  • + 1
 Pulling out his camera like that could make him the next James Bond!
  • + 1
 Why's he taking a photo of his knee?..
  • + 1
 One day i'll be in his position
  • + 1
 One can only hope
  • + 1
 I'm pretty sure Ale Di Lullo has a Chive BFM sticker on his lens!!!
  • + 1
 Nice! keep On it!
  • + 1
 So. Many. Pictures.
  • - 2
 A bit late... It's two stages later now... But I can see why if he had 5000 photos to sort through
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