5 Years of Photography with Niner Bikes' In-House Photographer

Aug 30, 2018 at 13:41
by Ian Hylands  
In early 2013 I quit my life as a freelance photographer to take a full-time job with Niner Bikes, and now five and half years later I'm going back to freelance work. I'm not completely leaving Niner, they're like a family to me, but I am restructuring my relationship with them. Working as a full-time in-house photographer has been an amazing experience, I've seen a whole other side of the bike industry, and I've had the opportunity to meet and work with some really amazing people, but it's time for a change. Going back to freelance should be a little more stressful, but it will also allow me to concentrate on some personal projects and build my creativity again.

Every year I've wanted to do a review post about all the awesome shoots that I've done, but I've never done it. So this post is it, a look back at some of my favorite images from the past 5 years, and a tribute to some of the awesome people I've had the opportunity to work with over those years.

2013

Kyle Mears and Tyson Swasee riding on the Captain Ahab trail in Moab Utah. Tyson had just finished the trail in the months before and it was quickly becoming the new trail that everyone had to ride when they went to Moab.
Tyson Swasey rides the Niner RIP 9 RDO on the Captain Ahab trail in Moab Utah
Early mornings are hard sometimes but they re also a huge part of my work. With sunrise around 7 AM and about 45 minutes of uphill hiking to get to this spot our alarms were set for 5 AM. I feel like this shot doesn t really show the exposure so it s on my list of places to re-shoot in the next while.

Tyson Swasey and Kyle Mears in Moab. This was the first real shoot I did after starting work for Niner, and it was the first time I had to create a video and shoot stills all in the same day. Luckily I had a great assistant in Jordan Huckee, and while the weather didn't look very promising when I arrived it slowly improved and the next evening we shot on the Captain Ahab trail. Tyson had just finished building Ahab that spring and it was an amazing piece of work. Creating a short video wasn't a problem for me, but shooting video and stills at the same time required a lot of organization and planning. We sacrificed a few photos early in the afternoon and concentrated on the video work first, and then got some still shots as the evening light started to fire. The next morning Kyle and I headed up to Portal trail to get a few more shots at sunrise.

Jon Angermeier rides the Niner JET 9 Alloy in Brevard North Carolina. This was shot on our last day in Brevard we d been using most of our time to work on a short video project and the weather had cooperated completely with bright but cloudy skies. On this last day it cleared up and the sun added a nice touch to all the photos.
The second bigger shoot I did for Niner was in Brevard, North Carolina. We needed a location that would have a good chance of decent weather in May, with shooting options for both sunny and cloudy weather. We had a few different options, but I chose Brevard based on experience shooting there for Specialized the previous year, and it worked out really well. This was another shoot that was video and photo for a product launch, and once again I was learning about the logistics involved in doing both by myself. On this one I had our marketing manager Carla McCord helping out and it was definitely a huge help. Huge shout out the Hub in Pisgah for being a totally amazing shop and putting up with us for the few days we were there. This is Jon Angermeier riding on the last day of the shoot.

This particular shoot at Hall Ranch stands out for several reasons. Firstly I d never been there before and Brad Cole our marketing assistant and model for the day assured me that it was amazing at sunrise. Sunrise meant a really early start as it was an hour drive to get to the trailhead in the town of Lyons and another hour to get to where we planned to shoot. With a 6AM sunrise that meant leaving Fort Collins at 4AM. We started the climb to the top in the dark and as the light started to show itself we realized that it was going to be one of those rare foggy days in the front range. Don t worry it ll burn off. was what we kept telling ourselves but after getting up at 3 30 in the morning to shoot sunrise light we ended up without a sunrise. Coming from the North West where fog in the trees is something I prayed for I made the most of it and ended up with some great moody images. The one that stands out though is this bike mounted shot of the Niner Single Speed Cog on Brads bike.
Nate Adams and Jason Trujillo ride the Niner ROS9 on the Ginny trail at Bobcat Ridge near Fort Collins Colorado. Being on the East side of the Rockies the front range doesn t really get good sunset light very often. The clouds build up over the mountains in the late afternoon and while there can be amazing sunsets there is not often decent light. This was the first shoot in quite a while with my old friend Nate Adams and also along to ride bikes was Jason Trujillo a new friend that worked for New Belgium Brewing. We got a bunch of great shots in the late afternoon and then after sunset while we were packing up the sky suddenly turned bright red and luckily I had brought a few flashes along.

Along with all the "bigger" shoots that required travel and extensive planning of riders and logistics I also did a lot of quick local shoots. Brad Cole at Hall Ranch and Nate Adams and Jason Trujillo riding at Bobcat Ridge in the shots above, and Brad Cole on the Wasatch Crest Trail in the shots below. If you want to know more about a particular shot click on it and check out the caption.

Brad Cole rides the Wasatch Crest Trail near Park City. If you look at a lot of my photos you ll see that a good many of them have the sun in them. I love shooting into the light and the way it makes things like plants and dust light up. This shot was used on the cover of the Kali Helmets catalog for 2014.
Another shot of Brad Cole on the Wasatch Crest Trail from the same shoot as the previous one. Brad was a pro roadie before moving to XC and CX riding and his posture on the bike was awesome because of it. It s a lot easier to get good shots of someone that just looks natural at what they re doing and this made Brad an easy choice for any of our XC shoots.

Another sunrise shoot this time with my friend Chris Wolff on the then new RLT9 gravel bike. There are some amazingly beautiful sections of gravel and dirt road around Fort Collins which makes it an great place to shoot gravel riding. Huge thanks to Peter at Swobo for providing the red jersey to help Chris stand out from the greens and yellows in this shot. Those kinds of details are usually not accidental in my images ideally everything is planned out ahead of time including colors.
Shortly after I started with Niner they brought out their first gravel bike and in the fall of 2013, we started shooting it. At this point, almost everything I was doing was a mix of photos and video, and without a full-time assistant shoots were often pretty frantic. This is Chris Wolff on a beautiful section of Cherokee Park road near Fort Collins.

I ve shot dirt jumping with Nate Adams for a good number of years probably 15 at least which makes it a lot easier to just go out and get an image. Nate knows what it takes to get something done and we work well together. Here he sets a little euro style table on a step up near Fort Collins.
Nate Adams and his dog Scout on the Dadd Gulch Trail on a beautiful fall day. We d been hoping for a little more color on this shoot and while there were definitely some sections of trail that had amazing yellows in the background this shot definitely won the day.
Sunrise on the Grafton Mesa Trail with Nate. This was the last year I shot Red Bull Rampage and I combined that trip with a Niner shoot for a video and some photos for the new long travel WFO. Huge thanks to Bill Bergeron for putting us up and making this trip even more awesome

I've known Nate Adams for more than 15 years, and having him in Fort Collins made him an easy choice to work with when shooting more aggressive stuff involving longer travel bikes and dirt jumping. Within the first few months of my arrival in Foco, Nate was riding for Niner and was my go-to guy for shooting anything more aggressive. The top image was shot at local Fort Collins trails, while below left is a shot of him riding the Dadd Gulch trail with his dog Scout, and on the right is a shot from Grafton Mesa where we went to film our first video.


2014

Working for a company that made XC bikes forced me to spend more time shooting them, and it also brought me closer to some great XC athletes for which I'm really grateful. The left photo is Brad Cole shot in Fort Collins mid-February, and the right photo features Chloe Woodruff and Evelyn Dong in a shoot near Monterey, California.

Having some pretty scenic trails so close to town and having them rideable almost year round definitely made my job at Niner a little easier. This was shot in the middle of winter about 15 minutes from the Niner office.
I was stoked to have Chloe and Evelyn on the Niner Backcountry team along with Jason Sager and Chloe s husband TJ. I always tried to work as many things together as possible this is from a shoot we did post Sea Otter for Backcountry.

Sunrise over the Midwest is one of my favorite views in Fort Collins and this is probably my favorite image of it. Garrett Gerchar and Brad Cole riding Stout Trail at Horsetooth Mountain Park near Fort Collins CO

One of my favorite views in Fort Collins is that of sunrise over the midwest, and this is one of my favorite photos of it. Brad Cole again with Team CLIF Bar's Garrett Gerchar on Horsetooth Mountain. If you haven't figured it out yet sunrise and sunset are my favorite times of day to shoot. Below left photo is Brad Cole from the same shoot as the photo above, and the photo on the right features Brandon Turman near Dear Valley.

Brad Cole rides the new Niner Bikes JET 9 RDO at Horsetooth Mountain Park near Fort Collins CO
More sunrise awesomeness this time with Brandon Turman at Deer Valley Utah during the Press Camp event. I often shot photos of editors for bike reviews this was for something Brandon was working on for VitalMTB.

Nate Adams having fun at the beach in Fort Collins. Nate found a great run in to this sand dune by one of our local beaches and we decided to shoot a photo of it. There was a huge amount of negativity that came up when this photo was posted to Facebook so many comments about riding etiquette and destroying trails I suppose I should have stated in the post that this wasn t actually a trail.
Fun at the beach! Nate found a great run in to this sand dune by one of our local beaches and we decided to shoot a photo of it. There was a huge amount of negativity that came up when this photo was posted to Facebook, so many comments about riding etiquette and destroying trails, I suppose I should have stated in the post that this wasn't actually a "trail."

Liam Dunn rides the new Niner Bikes AIR 9 RDO at Hall Ranch near Lyons Colorado.
After missing the sunrise on our first attempt to shoot at Hall Ranch this shoot worked out and the light was amazing. This is CLIF Bar athlete Liam Dunn. Below left is Liam's brother Cormac riding with Brad Cole, and on the right is Nate Adams riding with Stu Travis, both at Horsetooth Mountain Park.

Brad Cole and Cormac Dunn ride the Niner Bikes AIR 9 RDO on the Nomad Trail near Fort Collins Colorado.
Nate Adams and Stu Travis ride the Niner Bikes WFO 9 on the Spring Creek Trail in Horsetooth Mountain Park

A composite image based on a concept we came up with for the caption A SIR and a gentleman to promote the SIR 9 steel hardtail. There is a lot going on in this image and it s a composite of a lot of different shots all lit and composed seperately with the camera on a tripod.
I ended up creating a few different composite images for Niner over the years, this was the first one. This shot was built off of a concept we came up with for the caption "A SIR and a gentleman" to promote the SIR 9 steel hard tail. There is a lot going on in this image and it's a composite of a lot of different shots, all lit and composed separately with the camera on a tripod. Below left is Mark Mueller riding on the Sarlaac Trail in Fruita, and on the right is a pre-sunrise shot that made it onto the cover of Dirt Rag Magazine.

Thanksgiving weekend and Mark and I had been in Moab riding with our friends Matt and Airn. On the way home we stopped to ride and shoot the newly opened Sarlacc Trail and it didn t disappoint with a lot of fun and some epic views

One of the best parts of Nate and I both working in the same office is that we can just go out and get stuff as needed. This shot was planned one day and shot the next afternoon.
Sunset on the Devils Backbone trail with Nate Adams. One of the best parts of Nate and I both working in the same office is that we can just go out and get stuff as needed. This shot was planned one day and shot the next afternoon about an hour from the office.


2015

This was a concept put together to illustrate the concept of Dream Big and showed a young boy dressed in DH kit looking at his dad s bike.
This was a concept put together to illustrate the concept of "Dream Big" and showed a young boy dressed in DH kit looking at his dad's bike. Below are two photos of Chloe Woodruff. Chloe is an amazing rider and in 2015 she was the US National XC Champ. The left photo is from a shoot near her hometown of Prescott, AZ and the right photo is from the Windham World Cup.


When Kelpie Cycles owner Colin organized the Steamboat Ralleye Ride in 2015 Niner jumped on board as an opportunity to test and photograph the new Niner Gravel RLT 9 and RLT 9 Steel gravel bikes. This shot of Henry Horrocks pouring his morning coffee near Pingree Park is still one of my favorite bike packing shots.
When Kelpie Cycles owner Colin Pinney organized the Steamboat Ralleye Ride in 2015, Niner jumped on board as an opportunity to test and photograph gravel bikes. This shot of Henry Horrocks pouring his morning coffee near Pingree Park is still one of my favorite bike packing shots. Below photos are from the same three-day trip and feature Henry and my good friend James Scriven who I worked with at Niner for two years.

When Kelpie Cycles owner Colin organized the Steamboat Ralleye Ride in 2015 Niner jumped on board as an opportunity to test and photograph the new Niner Gravel RLT 9 and RLT 9 Steel gravel bikes.

Colorado has some amazing fall color, something I'd never really had much opportunity to shoot while living in the NW. I was pretty bummed to not be able to shoot any of it the first two years, but fall 2015 I made a promise to get out and do it. This is Dan Fry and Henry Horrocks on the Colorado Trail near Kenosha Pass. Henry worked with us at Niner for a while and contributed a lot of great energy to the office. I didn't shoot a lot of Cyclocross while at Niner, but it's a really fun discipline to shoot. The photos below are Team CLIF Bar's Brady Kappius and SDG Muscle Monster's Amanda "Panda" Nauman at a CXLA race near Long Beach, California. Cross is normally thought of as a wet muddy winter event, but this race was the complete opposite of that and turned out some amazing images. The shot of Brady in the dust is another of my favorite shots.

When I think of Cyclocross the images that come to my mind are of mud caked riders struggling through snow and soggy ground. Stuff that looks epic in B amp W a lot of the time. CXLA is different instead of mud and rain there was sunshine and dust which made for some epic and unexpected images. This is Team CLIF Bar s Brady Kappius.
Team SDG Muscle Monster s Amanda Panda Nauman races in the dust at CXLA.


2016

Working with the Team CLIF Bar guys was a great part of my time at Niner, and hopefully one of those things that will continue. This is Troy Wells and Brady Kappius at a team camp in Moab.

Leading up to Niner's launch of the new RIP 9 RDO and JET 9 RDO in 2016 I spent a lot of time shooting photo and video of the bikes. The image on the left is Anthony Lenz from one of our many early morning sunrise shoots on Horsetooth, and on the right is Adrian Montgomery at a press launch at the Coyote Yurt near Sun Valley.

When Niner launched the new RIP 9 RDO and JET 9 RDO they held a press launch at the Coyote Yurt with Sun Valley Trekking. While some people chilled before dinner a few of the journalists and I headed out with Adrian and a guide in search of some epic images. This is one of my favorites from that evening.

Nate and I talked about shooting this photo for probably at least a year before we actually went and did it. This natural wall ride is pretty fun but it took a lot of effort for Nate to actually air out of it.
Above is Nate Adams with a natural wall ride to table near Fort Collins. The images below are from a shoot with Rebecca Rusch at the end of 2016. We were working on a project for a new gravel bike and we wanted to get some photos and video of Rebecca near her home in Sun Valley. Unfortunately, it was also December and Idaho was under a few feet of snow. Working with Reba and Adrian Montgomery we found this location near Twin Falls that wasn't completely snowed in and managed to get video as well as some photos. This was probably the coldest shoot I've ever done, it was -20 Fahrenheit when we started and I kept my camera batteries in my pocket wrapped in handwarmers and prayed that the LCD in my Sony didn't completely freeze up and stop working.


2017

Kirt Voreis is a long time friend and we've created some amazing images together over the past 15 or so years. Kirt signed with Niner at the end of 2016 and this is from the first shoot I did with him in early 2017.

Kirt Voreis has been one of my favorite people to work with for a lot of years and we ve created some amazing images together. Kirt signed with Niner at the end of 2016 and this is from the first shoot I did with him in early 2017.
This image is from a video photo shoot that Amanda Nauman came up with a 400 mile 3 day training ride from Laguna Beach to Mammoth Mountain. This was my first time doing regular story updates with video and almost live social images. I uploaded photos to dropbox throughout the day and put up a one minute social recap every evening. Definitely a lot of work for a one man team. Here Amanda and team mates ride up HWY 395 with Mount Whitney in the background.

Along with the CLIF Bar CX and MTB team, I also had the pleasure of working with the SDG - Muscle Monster Team, and got to spend a decent amount of time working with Amanda "Panda" Nauman. Amanda has an amazing spirit and working with her was always fun and productive. The top image is from a video/photo shoot that she came up with, a 400 mile 3-day training ride from Laguna Beach to Mammoth Mountain. This was my first time doing regular story updates with video and almost live social images. I uploaded photos to Dropbox throughout the day and put up a one-minute social recap every evening. Definitely a lot of work for a one man team. The other two images are from a photo-only shoot that I did a month previous in Laguna Hills while working on a video segment as part of a project leading up to Dirty Kanza. Below is Kirt Voreis during practice for the Sea Otter Dual Slalom.

Above photo is Anthony Lenz from a shoot in Fort Collins for the new SIR 9, below images are from Dirty Kanza 200.

Several hundred riders spreading out over miles of Kansas gravel road as the sun rises. There were definitely some epic looking moments in this race
I d heard about Dirty Kanza for a few years and I thought I had a rough idea of what it would be like but nothing really prepared me for how hard it was to shoot this event. I needed to shoot photos and video covering several different Team CLIF Bar riders as well as reigning women s champ Amanda Panda Nauman and Rebecca Rusch and Kristin Taylor as well if possible. The riders were soon spread out over many miles and it soon became apparent that it would be almost impossible to get much footage of more than one rider. Menso de Jong was in the lead group of three so the decision was made to just stick with them and see how it played out. This is in the final stage of the race with maybe 15 miles left to go in the 200 mile race.

Jen Crew and Brad Cole riding near Pennock Pass in perfect fall weather. While the riding in Fort Collins itself is a little bit limited there is a lot of amazing trail within an hour or two.

While the riding in Fort Collins itself feels a little bit limited after 5 years there is an amazing amount of great trail within an hour or two. Top image is Jen Crew and Brad Cole riding on a perfect fall day near Pennock Pass. Below left is Nate Adams and Jen Crew also near Pennock Pass, and below right is Rebecca Rusch at her Rebecca's Private Idaho event, pouring beers in a pretty frantic round of Gelande Quaffing. I'd hoped to get some great riding images from RPI but my primary mission there was video and that took all of my time. Fortunately, I think the video turned out really well.


2018

Kirt Voreis performs a table on his Niner Bikes RIP 9 RDO on a giant natural quarter pipe in the California desert.
Mining for Skills
Kirt Voreis performs a table on his Niner Bikes RIP 9 RDO on a giant natural quarter pipe in the California desert.

How many ways can you shoot the same thing? In early 2018, Kirt Voreis, Doug Jambor and I spent a little over a week in the California desert shooting for a video that ended up being called "Mining for Skills." Kirt and I had been bouncing ideas back and forth for over a month before we finally nailed down a rough script and storyboard, and having Doug along to help with the filming side of it allowed me to spend some time concentrating on photos. These shots are from a giant natural quarter pipe that Kirt had found and the sunset lined up with it perfectly. The three images below are from what is probably the best trip I've ever been on, although I seem to say that every time I go to Jamaica. This year I finally managed to get Kirt to come along and with an all-star crew of amazing people it was all time. Most days ended with my face in pain from smiling and laughing so much!

Kirt Voreis whipping hard off the bank on a trail in the Blue Mountains of Jamaica.
It s taken me a while to realize that the most important thing in life is the people that I m with and the crew on this Jamaica trip was absolutely amazing. So many good times I can t even remember them all.
Kirt Voreis rides his bike on the Blue Mountain Trail at the 2018 Jamaica Fat Tyre Festival.

Russell Finsterwald rides his Niner RKT 9 RDO on a trail near Colorado Springs. While I used to use a lot of off camera flash in my shots I ve been getting away from it lately. In the time when I do use it now it s usually just for a little kick as in this shot.
Russell Finsterwald rides his Niner AIR 9 RDO on a trail near Colorado Springs
Russell Finsterwald rides his Niner RKT 9 RDO on a trail near Colorado Springs

Russell Finsterwald was a new addition to the CLIF team this year, and being as he's in Colorado Springs about 2.5 hours south I made the trip down to shoot some XC bikes with him. I was stoked to finally shoot Finsty outside of a race course, and I think we got some great images.

There are countless other images that I've taken over the past five and half years, but these ones stood out to me as either great shots or great memories. Here's to all of the wonderful people I've met that are in these photos, and also the many more that aren't. You've made the time here awesome!

Must Read This Week

31 Comments

  • + 35
 When you see them all together, it takes your breath away
  • + 9
 A great photographer, a great advocate for biking and an amazing person. Good luck Ian!
  • + 4
 Ian Hylands can freelance me anytime Wink
  • + 2
 I loved hearing all the work, thoughts, and locations that went into each of these. I enjoyed trying to guess where each photo was taken, then checking it with your commentary. Best of luck to you in the freelance world. Creativity and passion are so important and I'm glad you'll be able to do both.
  • + 6
 Amazing Work! Always love reading about the shots also!
  • + 2
 Thanks Davin!
  • + 2
 @IanHylands: Impressive body of work!
  • + 4
 Good Job Ian - always good to see the local trails represented. Also, everyone else - there's nothing good in Northern Colorado. Go ride Apex.
  • + 4
 Breathtaking! The control of highlights and shadows in every shot is mind blowing!!!
  • + 3
 Outstanding work! ???????? Cheers, Harry.
Aka - Prestons’ Ginger Beer????
  • + 3
 If I could afford it, I would buy like sixty niners.
  • + 2
 wicked talented and amazing human to boot! can't wait to see whats next in the pipeline for you Ian!
  • + 1
 @POWsLAYER Thanks Zoe!
  • + 2
 Such good stuff Ian! Hope to catch you down at the FFTF again next spring. Best of luck with the new arrangement!
  • + 1
 Youve always been one of my favorite mtb photographers! Great work in here!!!
  • + 2
 graet work as always¡¡¡
  • + 2
 sick pictures! had to add some of them to favourites!
  • + 2
 Always love seeing your work, but having these all together is awesome!
  • + 2
 Amazing work Ian! Stoked to try and ride Shoreline like Voreis haha
  • + 2
 Chapeau Ian
  • + 2
 Epic!
  • + 2
 Legend!
  • + 2
 Amazing shots!
  • + 2
 Love it!

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