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Justin Olsen - Ten Shots From 2013

Apr 23, 2014
by Justin Olsen  
" Last year, I was lucky enough to get invited on a few bike trips to take some photos. Even though I have been shooting MTB for awhile now, and have been able to get a photo published here and there, I have been a huge fan of this sport for longer still. As a fan, I still find myself amazed at some of the riders I am privileged to point my camera at.

Here are ten of my favorite shots from 2013 and the stories behind them

This is the first MTB shot I took in 2013. Not a bad way to start the season.. Cam Zink and Brandon Semenuk riding a warm up line in Utah.
  Brandon hit me up mid winter, and said that he and Cam Zink were going to be coming to Utah in early spring to film with Freeride Entertainment for Life Behind Bars. Coming to Utah to film is usually about a three week process comprised of scouting, building, waiting for wind, and having light to shoot in. So, he gave me some tentative dates, and a loose plan was made. When I got the call from him, he said they were ready to shoot and had a small weather window to work with. I jumped in my truck and pinned it south. When I got to the spot it was pretty late in the day, shovels were being put away, the sun was setting and shooting plans were being made for the next day. I could tell that Brandon and Cam had the itch though, 3 or 4 full days of digging in Utah without touching your bike will do that to you. They decided to gear up, grab their bikes, and head up the hill to ride a warm up line. With the light quickly fading, I was happy to grab some shots. We headed up the hill, I set up, they dropped in, and I snapped this shot. This is literally the first MTB shot I took in 2013. Not a bad way to start the season.

You can t tell from the photo but it was freezing cold and super windy when this was taken. You also can t tell that Brandon waited at the top of this line in the freezing wind for almost 3 hours to drop in on it. Finally it is hard to tell just by looking at it but he landed this flip first try and rode straight back to the RV to try and keep from going hypothermic.
  Sometimes there are multiple angles to choose from, and it is difficult to choose one because they are all really good. Sometimes, there aren't really any good angles, and it is difficult to find a unique way to document the line. This fact can be compounded when there are multiple video cameras around capturing the action, and you are limited to where you can be. I chose this angle because it was the most interesting one that was allowed. Maybe it would work better as a rock climbing shot. I recognize and admit that. From this angle, one thing you can see, is the large life threatening cliffs all around. What you can't see, is the drop and billy goat chute line leading into this backflip jump. You also can't see the landing, which was super steep and littered with multiple obstacles to avoid. Also, you can't tell from the photo, but it was freezing cold and super windy when this was taken. You also can't tell that Brandon waited at the top of this line in the freezing wind for almost 3 hours to drop in on it. Finally, it is hard to tell just by looking at it, but he landed this flip first try and rode straight back to the RV to try and keep from going hypothermic.

Backyard jumps are the dream. For this moment although through special invitation Carson Storch is living it.
  I spent a week shooting with the Diamondback team in May. It was a hectic trip, as the goal was to photograph all the riders, on all the current bikes, in terrain specific to each bike model, but with varying backgrounds. Over the course of the trip we shot photos and rode bikes in various locations from Frutia, Colorado to Park City, Utah. We even made a stop at Ranchstyle in Grand Junction. It was a busy week, filled with late nights, early mornings, practical jokes, and gas station food, but it was a blast as always. As the newest member of the DB Crew, Carson Storch came along. It was his first time on a team trip. He had his first photo taken on a 29er. He rode his first lines in Green River. After a whirlwind week filled with many firsts, he got to unleash on some familiar terrain, backyard dirt jumps. This might be my favourite shot from the entire trip...

Kelly McGarry the gentle giant taking a moment to share the joy of 2 wheels with some Peruvian children.
  Peru. Mountain Bike Photography took me to Peru last year. Unbelievable. My trip to Peru consisted of three parts. First, meeting up with Eric Porter and Kelly McGarry, and documenting the delivery of solar panels and other useful equipment to a remote village in the heart of the Andes. This journey was made possible by many generous sponsors, including Diamondback, Kenda, Clif Bar, Backcountry.com and Goal Zero. There were a lot of logistics to this trip, and a lot of time spent putting it all together. When we finally got to Peru and started shooting this adventure, it was almost overwhelming. Maybe it was because none of us had ever been there, but it seemed like there were banger shots to be had everywhere we looked. I took a lot of photos down there, and I mean a lot. Like terabytes a lot. After looking back through a hard drive filled with riding shots my eyes began to glaze over a bit. Then I came across this one, and thought it best suited that leg of my trip. Kelly McGarry, the gentle giant, giving some Andean children in a remote mountain village a glimpse into another world via curly blonde hair and bicycle.

Glacial mountain peaks and blood red dirt. A combination that seems to be pretty rare on this planet.. Aaron Chase know where to find it though and pop sweet wheelies in its midst.
  The Inca Avalanche race. This was the second part of my trip, and the main event that was drawing everybody down to Peru. If you are a fan of riding your bike downhill this is definitely an event to put on your bucket list. There were a lot of pro riders and local shredders in the area for this race, and couple days before it went down the race organizer Will Janacek, of KB Tambo / Global Epix tours, somehow got everybody together (by some miracle) for a session in what he referred to as the "jump" gully. It just so happened that this remote jump gully had a pretty nice background. Glacial mountain peaks and blood red dirt. A combination that seems to be pretty rare on this planet. Aaron Chase was stoked on it, and decided to pop some sweet wheelies in its midst.

In the middle of the Andes deep in the heart of Peru Garett Buehler spotted some big mountain lines from the road and just had to slay them. No stone left unturned.
  I spent the last week of my Peru trip with Garett Buehler, Andrew Taylor, and Niki Leitner shooting photos for Seasons of Shred. After a few days of shooting downhill and jump trails, we decided to drive way out to this remote mountain pass in search of some more big mountain type stuff. It seems the Andes are pretty much solid rock, and you are usually riding in some form of rock, shale, or gravel; but we had heard that this particular pass offered a more loose shreddable type of dirt. The mere mention of the words "loose and shreddable" were more than enough to get Buehler out the door early in the morning. We drove up endless winding mountain roads, hiked through mountain marshes filled with roaming herds of Alpacas, and finally arrived at the foot of the slope. It was indeed shreddable. Garret started hiking. At 15,000 feet above sea level, he definitely earned his turns.

Last lap of the day in Alyeska Bike Park
  Alaska. Another first for me. Eric Porter and were invited up to Alyeska Resort, which is just outside of Anchorage, for the annual bike festival they put on every fall. Everything about Alyeska was a pleasant surprise. The town, the resort village, the people; all low key and down to earth. The bike park is killer. Lots of trails, multiple lifts running, and serious effort being put in to expand. They are going all in with MTB. Once we got on top of the mountain it only got better. The views were incredible. It was pretty much impossible to take a bad photograph. On our first night there we were treated to an amazing sunset, and perfect shooting light. Because of the way the sun travels through the sky, the golden hour is just a little bit longer in AK.

When you plan a bike trip to Alaska in early September you better be planning for snow. Eric Porter doesn t mind it at all.
  It was the only sunset we got while we were there. The next morning we woke up to a blanket of freshly fallen snow. September in Alaska is hit or miss for snow, and this time it was a definite hit. It was the first snow of the season though, and while it was pretty cold outside, it wasn't enough to stop locals from shredding the bike park on closing weekend. We met up with the crew, went out, ran some laps in the snow, and shot some photos. It was a lot of fun, and at the end of the day the hot tub never felt so good.

I guess I am sucker for a good hiking shot. Cam McCaul making his way to the top on a late November shoot.
  A month and a half after the Red Bull Rampage dust had settled I found myself back in Virgin for another shoot. This photo was taken on a Fox Suspension FMX/MTB project, with Ronnie Renner and Cam McCaul. We had a three day shoot window, and it rained hard for the first two days. On the last day, there was a break in the weather though, and the dirt was just dry enough to ride. Clouds were still looming and threatening rain. Not wanting to miss what might be the only opportunity, Cam grabbed his bike and headed up. Some people might say the hiking shot is almost as cliche as the chairlift shot, and maybe it is, but I am a sucker for it. I'll snap it every time.

Ronnie Renner throwing some warm up whips on a FOX Suspension MTB FMX shoot in Utah.
  After the main part of the shoot was over, the sun came out and Ronnie started casually hitting and whipping this natural hip. He referred to them as "warm up" whips. The light just kept getting better, and Ronnie's whips just kept getting nastier. I scrambled to get my gear back out of my bag as the last bit of light crept up the hillside. As I framed up this shot, I realized the two jagged triangular peaks in the background were the same peaks I had seen in almost every Freeride Ent / NWD film from the beginning. As Renner's whip and my shutter clicked, I thought of all the freeride mountain biking history that has been shot against those mountain peaks... I smiled at the realization of such a unique opportunity to add a moto photo to that list.

As a fan of the sport, first and foremost, I feel privileged to be a part of it.

-Justin Olsen

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  • 81 6
 The second picture is upside down! Nice manual though...
  • 3 35
flag Strider101 (Apr 23, 2014 at 16:08) (Below Threshold)
 no it's not...
  • 14 1
 LOOOLL.... aww geez
  • 18 2
 Sitting at work, with my head tilted to the side, looking like and idiot..... :-)
  • 4 1
 Thanks for the short head exercise.
  • 3 6
 So plants grow up side down now???
  • 1 0
  • 38 0
 That McGarry pic is absolutely fantastic.
  • 7 0
 agreed. def my fave.
  • 4 0
 Mine too. I also really like the one in the snow. It looks like a black and white with just the rider in color. It's also the kind of day I love to be out biking on. Those days make a trail you've ridden often feel, remote, foreign, other worldly. Great photos sir!
  • 21 0
 Kelly Mcgarry is such an amazing ambassador for our sport - I have really grown to respect this guy.
  • 2 0
 And should GROW his hair
  • 5 0
 The alaska in snow pic could be in a picture frame. something zen like about it.
  • 6 0
 Justin is the shit, hands down.
  • 1 0
 Thanks Reece! haha
  • 1 0
 I love them all, but the snow shot in Alaska is just incredible. This captures the emotional connection to MTB for me. It shows the freedom, adventure, athleticism, diversity, and natural beauty that simply pedaling your bike through the woods can provide. Priceless and timeless shot right here. Great moment.
I would love a huge print of this shot so I could put it in a frame. Is that possible Justin?
  • 4 0
 Wow..that view is amazing,nice pictures!
  • 4 0
 Sweet Pics!
  • 3 0
 Best Job in the world?
  • 3 0
  • 3 0
 Nicely done.
  • 2 0
 Looks like I have my desktop background pictures set for a while....
  • 2 0
 Nice work Justin! Awesome photos!
  • 1 0
 Killing it Justin. Good work!!!
  • 1 0
 Yeah Justin! Always putting out amazing images and vids!
  • 1 0
 That is NOT Joel Osteen.
  • 1 0
 Yeah RenDawg!!
  • 1 0
 Thanks for checking out my shots everyone, stoked to share them!
  • 1 0
 Great story and photos
  • 1 0
 Ten bangers.

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