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
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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. 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 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.
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.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.
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.
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.
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
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!
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!