Tell us a little bit about yourself:
I’m 21 years old residing in Bellingham, Washington. Growing up in the PNW (Pacific Northwest) couldn’t have been better and I’m really happy to be in such an amazing place. How long have you been shooting photos?
Suppose it’s been about seven years now starting out in high school with a Nikon D200. A few years later I discovered a passion for shooting mountain biking and everything else started to get put on the back burner. How long have you been shooting mountain biking?
Around five years, two of which have been professionally. Do you ride yourself? How does this affect your images?
Absolutely. I don’t think I would be where I am without mountain biking. Being an avid mountain biker really helps in many different ways. Many times I will see a feature and imagine how I would be riding it, which helps me communicate to the athlete what the vision is. Do you shoot anything else besides mountain biking?
Fly-fishing and snowboarding are two others I’m working towards currently, it’s always good to train your eye in other ways and do something different. Were you self-taught of have you had any formal training?
Mostly self-taught, but I did graduate recently from a two year Commercial Photography program in Seattle. Having the extra education on lighting skills and business behind photography has really progressed my career. Do you have a second job or are you a full time photographer?
Full-time since 2011. What is your favorite thing to shoot?
Mountain biking is where I started and will always love to shoot, but snowboarding and fly-fishing are the two other subjects I enjoy shooting. Having a good balance of subjects helps you keep sane and not get pigeonholed into one sport. You became a regular contributing photographer for Pinkbike this year. What’s it like covering events like Joyride and World Cup races?
Events like Red Bull Rampage, Joyride, and the World Cup’s are intense for sure. They really test your skills, ability to think on the fly and challenge yourself in each situation. You really have to push yourself creatively in order to perform in a unique way. World Cup racing has been shot for years by some of the sport’s best photographers. How do you set your work apart?
Coming into the World Cup scene has been an incredible experience; a lot of the courses only offer a handful of features to shoot. Finding that “Iconic” shot is a true challenge, and you have to get pretty creative. Otherwise you will end up with the same shots as someone else. Where is the most exotic place you’ve shot? Was there any culture shock?
South Africa by far, wasn’t really sure what to expect there but was completely humbled by how welcoming the locals were. What kind of camera do you use? What lenses? Is there any other gear that you use frequently?
Nikon D4 and D3, 70-200 2.8, 24mm 1.4, 16mm Fisheye, 24-70mm 2.8 and 14-24mm 2.8 for the main gear. I have F-Stop Gear camera bags to keep everything safe, Elinchrom Ranger strobes, Pocketwizards and an assortment of other gear. Most importantly, a stash of snacks and Clif Bars really makes the day productive. You’re known as a photographer but have you shot any video?
A little bit, but will be mainly focusing on stills for 2014. Always interested in video as a producer, and who knows, times change. Do you think that photography and video will remain separate professions or will new camera technology force professionals to learn both skill sets?
It’s important to understand and respect each, but I don’t think having a single talent will die out. Doing one thing well is much more important than half assing the other. Do you ever shoot on film?
I do, I have a Nikon F100, and a large pile of disposable cameras. Film is great but I definitely don’t spend enough time using it to say I’m an expert. What photo are you most proud of? Why?
Couldn’t narrow it down to any single image, they all have their place in my heart. Which photographers inspire you?
Guys like Sterling Lorence, Mattias Fredrickson, and many others have always inspired me to push myself to new limits. I’ve been fortunate enough to personally know people like Tim Zimmerman, Colin Meagher, Caveman and so many others that have helped me out with my career and can’t thank them enough. Who are some of the clients you’ve worked with?
I’ve worked closely with Pinkbike for a few years, which has been a great experience and Freehub Magazine on the print side of things. Commercially I’m always adding new names to the list but a few are Red Bull, Bell Helmets, Fox Head, Trek Bicycles and Maxxis. You've had photos in Pinkbike's Photo of the Year and the Red Bull Illume contests. How do you choose the images you submit? How does it feel to have your work selected by judges?
For contests such as these I generally come up with 20 - 30 images that I really feel strongly about and then start narrowing them down to best suit the format. With Red Bull Illume I actually shot that photo for the contest knowing the cowboy hat was a unique feature and would portray well in the "Playgrounds" Category. Pink Bike Photo of the Year is a different beast, since there's only one winner you really have to factor in all the different aspects that make up a great image. My decision making process for this incorporates creativity, lighting, technicality, and raw emotion. Do you think photography is too subjective to be judged fairly or do you like the competitive aspect?
While photography is a subjective medium, I like the challenge of participating in contests as they push your skills not just as a photographer, but as a producer, ability to think on the fly and so many other factors that come into play. I really love contests like Photo of the Year and Deep Summer as they highlight the best talent our industry has to offer, however given the the large pool of talent and styles out there, a clear winner is often hard to choose. Anything else we should know about you?
I’ve always been a big believer in challenging yourself and doing what makes you happy in life. Whatever that may be, it’s not as far off as you might think. You might go flat broke trying, but it’s all worth it in the end.
Pinkbike // Paris Gore
Portrait of Paris: Amelia Colasurdo
Past Photographer Interviews: