| Tell us a little bit about yourself.|
I am a Toronto, Ontario-based action sports photographer. Prior to becoming a full time photographer, I worked in the sporting goods industry here in Canada. I did everything from marketing to running national race teams. I even organized some noteworthy races, included the Schwinn Toyota Biker Cross, one of the first of its kind in Canada. I started shooting video around that time but always dreamed of being a photographer. I remember thinking it was so complicated... I still do at times. In 2000, I started FastTimes Inc. Productions and produced the Eastern Standard videos. I did a lot of corporate videos, and some Ride Guide episodes but wanted that one amazing photo. I don't think I have that image yet but it's what keeps me up at night and gets me out of bed at dawn. I slowly started shooting more stills and now rarely do any video work. I have the itch again though and hope to shoot a bit more video next season.
| How long have you been shooting photos?|
I have been shooting for approximately 15 years but only started to hone my craft over the past 5 years really. After a short period of shooting more seriously, I went back to school to learn the basics. This really helped me a lot. And while none of the material I learned directly applied to sports photography, it taught me the basic principles which apply to all photography. I shot some fashion in school as well and it actually helped me learn a lot about lighting and portraiture. I recall my teacher telling me it would take at least ten years to succeed as a photographer. I was floored, but he was right. Photography is a challenging business to be in, whether your images are great or not. I guess that's part of what makes it special.
| Do you ride yourself? How does this affect your images?|
I do ride! I have been passionate about bikes since I was a kid. It's one of the things that defines me and I love it. The feeling I get riding with my friends and my pup is like nothing else. It's the thing I try to capture through my lens. I think that to be a photographer you have to shoot what you love. If you follow Hylands, Sven or Flipper for a day you quickly realize that there is no way a person could do this for a living if they didn't love it. You also need to be able to ride to get to where the shooting is good. If you don't feel that special thing while riding yourself I think you are at a disadvantage when trying to capture it.
| How long have you been shooting mountain biking?|
My passion for skiing brought me to Whistler in my early 20's. It was before there was lift-access mountain bike riding there. That is really where I caught the photography bug for the first time. Watching the photographers and cinematographers work there, in the mountains, made a real impression on me. Mountain biking was in its infancy and it was where I first rode a mountain bike. I went to Whistler as a skier and came back a mountain biker. I started taking my camera on rides with me when I moved back to Ontario, almost 20 years ago now. Those would be my first experiences shooting mountain biking, but it was more about documenting the ride than producing beautiful images. I had no idea how to do that at the time. Film wasn't as easy to learn on, and I am a born chimper.
| Do you shoot anything else besides mountain biking?|
I recently, over the past 3 years, started shooting motocross. The transition was fairly easy photographically speaking. I had the timing and angles down quickly. I don't know the sport as well as mountain biking, but getting to know the athletes and making new friends is the thing I love most about shooting sports so I am really enjoying it. I like shooting new things and getting out of my comfort zone. I find you always learn something to bring to the other sports when you do. I still do a fair bit of commercial work and shoot skiing, climbing, and anything my clients require. I do some studio work as well.
| Do you have another job as well or is it just photography?|
No, photography is my full-time gig. I don't think you can go back to a regular job once your office has been on top of a mountain. Even in my retirement years I hope to wander the countryside shooting landscapes or become a travel photographer for the magazine with the yellow borders... one can dream right? Got me this far!
| What is your favorite thing to shoot?|
I love to shoot sports but really for me, it's about the people. I would say environmental portraits and action images are my favorite. To me, they go hand in hand. Dave Black says that he shoots an NFL game as though he was going to make a coffee table book out of it and that is the approach I have as well. I really love the storytelling aspect of photography. Being around the energy of athletes is contagious. They are inspiring and I could not work as hard as I do if I were shooting headshots all day. I also have a 20 month old daughter and she is the apple of my eye. I'm glad I can take nice shots of her.
| What kind of cameras do you use?|
I am a Nikon shooter. My current camera bodies are a Nikon D3 and D700. I think these two bodies work incredibly well together and make a killer combination. Cropped bodies never worked for me at the focal lengths I like to shoot at. When shooting mountain biking, I usually work out of a bag and can get away with one body. Since shooting MX, I have really had to make the switch to two bodies and a modular system. I don't really get into the whole Nikon vs. Canon debate. I am a bit of a nerd and love the equipment but they are just tools. I like Nikon but the proof is in the shot, not on the spec sheet, if I start to believe that it's the camera I just grab a copy of National Geographic and look at images captured on a D70 to put me in my place.
| Is there any other gear that you use frequently?|
Well, I think any sports shooter likely has a serious relationship with their Pocket Wizards. They are game changers and I am loving the new Flex, Mini and AC3 combo. I still find myself going back to my MulitMAX transceivers though, as they are hands down the most reliable triggers around. Getting up to 1/8000 sync out of my Rangers using the new triggers is hard to resist though. I think I also have a bit of a camera bag addiction and really like the Think Tank rolling bags for carry-on when flying. They come with locks as well and really take the worry out of traveling with your gear. My favorite goodies are my strobes, all of them! The journey of understanding light, both ambient and artificial is a lifelong one that I am enjoying so far.
| Who are your main clients?|
My regular editorial customers include Canadian Cycling, Mountain Life, and Climbing Mag. I am also the senior staff photographer for MXP Magazine. I shoot for a number of the teams on the Canadian Pro national MX circuit as well. I have been the only shooter covering the Ontario Cup Downhill series for more years than I can recall. It's where I raced and I never wanted to give up on it, even when I no longer raced. Blue Mountain has been a great long time client of mine, and I shoot everything from their hotel rooms to the World Cup Ski Cross for them. I have also done quite a bit of work for Norco and Shimano. I am very fortunate that I have customers like I have, I have had most of my customers since the very beginning and I consider them my friends. Part of shooting sport is getting out in the elements and problem solving as a team. Doing that with my clients has been a great experience and really formed strong relationships.
| Anything else we should know about you?|
I think that my story goes to show you that, while it would be a lot easier to shoot against the epic backdrops of BC or Italy, you can make a go of it shooting what you have in your backyard. I love Ontario and this is where I make my living. This is home and I have found some real gems to ride and shoot. It's the same everywhere really; you just have to dig your heels in a go for it. You won't succeed at this with anything less than 110%, that I guarantee you.
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