Photo Story: Denzil Heeger's Photo Annual Makes the Most of 2020

Dec 29, 2020
by Denzil Heeger  

Everybody can agree that this year hasn't exactly gone the way many of us envisioned. Most had plans for international travel, going racing or even just leaving their home without any real worries besides the conditions of the trails you were about to ride. COVID knocked everything for six including my own plans for part of the year but during this year I still managed to accomplish plenty of goals and shoot photos that I'm proud of. I bought myself my first bit of camera gear for shooting bikes in September of 2019 and really set my goal for 2020 to explore and push my photography to get to a standard that I'm proud of and that would show that WA has world class riding, riders and community.

I figured I would put together a little retrospective of the year in one place with more photos than what made it onto Instagram.

The year begun with a ride and mini shoot with one of my best mates, Luke Duncan in the "Valley" up in the local hills. Shot some "lifestyle" shots of some fresh Christmas goods and managed to get a cracking sunset over the city below.

I'm lucky to spend a fair bit of my time riding and shooting down at Linga Longa Bike Park in Balingup, WA. You might have seen this spot in a fair few of Sam Hill's edits in recent years. As the only private bike park in Western Australia, Linga Longa is home to some of the best enduro riding around the state. I spent a fair few weekends shooting for the park and these are some of my favourites from their shuttle days throughout the year with riders and trail crew.

Throughout the year I tried my best to experiment with various photographic techniques in my bike photography. The main one I tried experimenting with a couple of times was long exposure shots of my mates riding at night down various trails. Linga Longa is 2,5hrs away from Perth so thankfully it doesn't get a lot of light pollution and makes it an ideal location to experiment. We shot on various trails around the park and this long exposure work is a part of a series of photographs I would like to continue working on in 2021.

Long Exposure experiments on DDM

Summer means 40 degree days and plenty of sun so riding is restricted to the early morning or late arvo's. "The Pines" are home to some of the more interesting trails around town and is a popular shuttle destination. In winter it is has perfect dirt and loamy conditions but in the summer its nothing but a dust bowl. Luke and Scott joined me for an evening session that required a good scrub of all my gear afterwards.

Luke hit one of the road gaps and Scott blew up some corners for a bit of afternoon fun. I scored my first Vital MTB daily shot after this shoot so that was a nice reward. Seeing photographers you are a big fan of, liking one of your photos on Instagram is a pretty cool and motivating feeling. Still chasing a Pinkbike POD though!

Thats a 2021 goal!!

Dust Central

Sending one of the many Road Gaps

Bye Bye Berm

I'm definitely more of a night owl than an early riser but a sunrise shoot is enough motivation to get up and get some coffee into me and get behind the camera. Luke and I went for another explore out in "The Valley" and I nabbed my second Vital Daily Shot with an image from this set. Took the opportunity to test out a new 85mm lens and shoot a bike check of both our rides.

In April I contacted young gun Bailey Christie to go out for a shoot up at Mundaring. We had a good morning shooting some different features and then I ended up shooting some photos with him and his mates for his birthday ride the next weekend. Shooting with the young guys who are racing around the State has been one of the cooler parts of 2020 and im looking forward to growing those relationships more next year.

The future of riding in WA is in good hands.

Over the first couple of months of the year the trail fairies had been busy in the Valley and built a new rock roll that was popping up all over Instagram. I got a heads up from someone in the know and headed out with Luke again to try and get a fresh shot off it. We were lucky to capture the big guy right in golden hour and the added smoke from local bushfires definitely added to the nice golden glow.

This is probably my favourite photo from the year! The ride in, stoke of ticking something new off and all the other shots we captured made it a proper adventure and bit of fun. The rock roll shot was also the first photo I sold to a mountain bike company so thanks for that @konaworld, much appreciated!

During the height of our COVID restrictions (relaxed compared to most of the world) in WA like many around the world we took to doing some trail building. After a few months of digging on and off we were fortunate to shoot some photos on the features with some of the best foggy conditions we had all year up in the hills. Being a place where its usually pretty warm we don't get fog that often and if we do its during a weekday when we are all at work.

I had organised to do some riding and shooting with Jayden and Luke and as I dropped down from Kalamunda into the valley I was pretty disappointed that there wasn't any fog as it was one of the colder days of the year. A couple of kms later I turned a corner and was engulfed in a fog so thick it got pretty hard to see where the road went. Not often that I get to look through the lens and it looks like something out of BC so you definitely appreciate it and make sure you get the best shots that you can, especially on features that you built.

Western Australia has been incredibly lucky to be one of the places in the world where COVID hasn't gotten out of control and after a couple of months with plenty of restrictions we have been able to go back to a semi-normal state of life with social distancing in place. This also meant that racing and events could get back underway.

We are lucky to have the WA Gravity Enduro Series that held their first race back post restrictions at York in July. I drove out and hiked around the hill shooting photos of my second race ever and first Enduro round. It was an interesting experience especially with riders being able to do stages in whatever order they wanted. Making sure you got photos of the best athletes also proved difficult but I still came away with some shots that people were stoked on.

Over my many rides and shoots up at "The Pines" in the first half of the year I saw many a wheel barrow of dirt being moved by a group of mates. Slowly and surely one of the biggest jumps I'd seen out there began to emerge. Videos and photos started to pop up on Instagram with people starting to get some sessions in on the jump and someone even flipped it. We went to check it out after a ride one morning but was met with a pretty disappointing destruction notice from the local council. The guys who had built the jump actually rocked up while we were checking it out to get one last session in before it got flattened and I shot some photos of them getting in their last hits.

I was lucky to have a local MTB clothing company Frankd MTB Apparel reach out and organise a shoot with some of their fresh product. Francis is a total legend and is creating the best jerseys and gear going around the State and is a brand that's making impacts around the country for top quality gear at a great price.

The shoot was with Francis as well as local shredders Joel Irving and Jono Kurthy. We shot around Mundaring for a couple of hours and came away with a great selection of shots for them to use in advertising and on socials. It was awesome to ask the boys if they could do something and then next time through they would nail it, no matter how difficult it was. I really enjoyed expanding my portfolio of lifestyle and product shots as well, an area I definitely want to continue to practice on and expand in my skillset for 2021.

If you're in need of quality MTB gear Frank'd is definitely a brand you should have on your radar.

Australian MTB Mag held their annual Photo Competition in September and I went for a sunrise "Valley" mission with Luke to try and capture some shots that I hoped would do well in the categories. It was super stiff competition and I managed to make the final 12 for the detail category with one of my long exposure shots but nevertheless I was happy with the shots we got. It was super interesting to see how the look and mood changed around the trail as the sun rose and the light changed. Always a good reminder to keep shooting and always chase the light and best conditions.

In October I was contacted by a South West MTB/Surfing specific AirBnB, Berms and Barrels about doing a shoot and I pitched the idea of a weekend riding trip to them as a way to show how good a getaway destination it was. Margaret River is known around the world as a quality surfing destination but it is also home to a vibrant riding community and quality trails.

Berms and Barrels was a 5min ride from the trail head and was a great base for a great weekend of riding and relaxing. It was an awesome way to say thank you to my mates who have gone on plenty of shoots with me over the last year to help me improve my shooting skills. We were lucky to get a bit of rain the week before the trip and luscious scenery the whole time which looked great on camera. The trip was definitely a highlight of the year for me.

Seeing hundreds of females descend on Linga Longa Bike Park for the first WA Gravity Girls "Trail Bliss" event was one of the best things to come out of 2020 in the WA Riding community.

Emily and Justin Mountford along with a epic team of collaborators organised a fully catered, private shuttle weekend complete with glamping, coaching sessions, guided rides with a host of some of the best riders around WA as crew. It was awesome to see the guys come out and support the women, providing plenty of tips and encouragement and good vibes all round. Local and international legend Sam Hill also helped out taking advanced riders on guided rides and towing a few of them in on the newest and largest jump line at the park built by Three Chillies Design. The whole vibe of the weekend was awesome and I got to be part of a small media team capturing the event and stoke of everyone involved.

After a test session on Saturday night at sunset the Trail Crew who were helping out for the weekend put on a bit of a show on the "Skywalker" step down and freshly built step up. With plenty of whips and style being thrown down it was awesome to see everyone enjoying themselves so much!

The final race of the WAGE calendar was also held at Linga Longa Bike Park at the end of November with all the big guns tackling the toughest race of the year with steep challenging tracks in dusty and dry conditions. It was great to see Sam supporting the local race and taking the win as expected, with the local pinners in Jordy Prochyra and Roly Kyme keeping him on his toes. There were plenty of racers out there with over 500 riders across whippets, women's and various categories.

Shooting enduro always proves a busy day and I got plenty of kms in the hiking boots traversing the hill all day.

The year was capped off by another shoot with Frankd for the launch of their Summer 2021 range. It was a great day checking out the recently opened Murray Valley trails and with dusty conditions and 35 degree weather there was plenty of fun in the sun. we shot with Joel, Jono, and Francis again but was also joined by Christine, Roman and Caelin to show off the kids and women's ranges.

Huge thanks to everyone who came on a shoot or said hi at the races this year, it was a great year of riding and shooting in WA despite the pandemic around the world. It was nice to have our little slice of heaven to play in most of the year. Looking forward to pushing my photography and achieving more goals in next year like securing a Pinkbike POD!

Heres to more smiles in 2021!!

P.S. You can keep up to date with more of my work and goings-on over on my Instagram @by_denzil

Regions in Article
Western Australia


  • 4 0
 Awesome shots, great work capturing the riding scene in WA, plenty of building in 2021 a great year ahead, POD is coming for sure!
  • 1 0
 Thanks mate! Definitely looking forward to 2021
  • 2 0
 So many iconic local WA trails in this collection with some absolute weapons riding them. You really captured the cool, laid back vibe in some of those shots and I know a few of the lads will be stoked on making a sneaky guest appearance on Pinkbike...
  • 2 0
 Wow, so many bangers in there Denzil! Going to have to come back and look again when I have more time! I have a plan to come to WA sometime with no set dates right now. Will have to see what happens with travel and health stuff this year. Will be going to Melrose to hang out with my friends at Over The Edge, and possibly do a photo workshop, but who knows... Be good to meet up if and when that happens! Happy New Year!
  • 1 0
 Great shots, nice to see some developments on usual trails in kali, mundaring, dwellingup and Margs, but still sad to see Dept Conservation or whatever it calls itself these days not working with riders and still maintaining 1000km one way trails, guess there is a use for an e-bike yet! Long way to catch up with UK and Europe still, maybe I'll move back in another 20yrs. Keep up the Stoke and build some flow trails with features instead of 2 min downhills called enduro, way more fun for all.
  • 3 0
 Great Shots Denzil. Got the Stoke going and now I wanna go for a ride.
  • 1 0
 Cheers buddy!
  • 3 0
 Love your work Denz!
  • 2 0
 Thanks West! Need to work on a video project to include in this next year
  • 1 0
 Sweet shots! Some real bangers in there. Keep it up
  • 1 0
 Well done. Nice pics and a good read.
  • 1 0
 Great work.

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