Photographer Spotlight - The Derek Dix Interview

Mar 7, 2009 at 19:17
by Daniel Toumine  
Derek Dix, a man of fashion, is a 21 year old photographer hailing from Vancouver, BC. He's currently attending the Alberta College of Art and Design in Calgary, AB. He took a moment out of his busy schedule to sit down and answer a couple of questions.

Read on to find out what he has to say about himself, the sport, and photography.What was it like growing up in Vancouver, and having the endless woods out your front door?
Amazing, it’s got me into everything I do. I've lived in the same house my whole life and it's been amazing having parents who were into the outdoors. It was also handy to be able to walk out my door and go shoot, build, or ride! That's something that I don't take for granted, now that I'm out in Calgary.

Speaking of building, I've heard that when you were younger you built trails that eventually appeared in several top mountain bike films.
Yeah, it's cool that it happened. At the time, my friends and I built the stuff hoping for good movie sections... you know... when every kid wants to go pro riding, but then that never worked out for me. Now I'm just glad that we made something that so many people were stoked on riding, and I guess some of the stuff was progressive at the time, too.

I first met you at a Canada Cup in Sun Peaks, BC... way back when. You mentioned your parents giving you a great deal of support through your riding, now that you've made the transition to photography are they still behind you 100%? And with your interests lying in both photography and racing, how come you didn't end up chasing the race scene with the lens?
It's stressful to do both... I tried for one season and it just got frustrating. All I wanted to do was just train while I was on course with the camera. Right now, though, it's just difficult to follow any race circuit without somebody throwing money my way. The traveling starts getting really expensive and when I'm at school 8 months of the year, I can't just come back and start following the race circuit with no cash. My parents still support me with my photography though and are sending me to school, which is nice, but at times I wish I was just working and shooting so I could follow more stuff I want. Either or, I know school will be worth it in the end.

Tell me a little bit about your program you're taking at ACAD (Alberta College of Art and Design), and how it's beneficial to your line of work.
It's actually a really solid program; although, it is somewhat new and there are a few kinks to get worked out, but this also works to an advantage. I'm enjoying it a lot since the program is geared towards more design and commercial work than fine art. I love design and I love shooting so I'm glad this puts both together. Even if I am stressing out about the amount of work on my plate all the time... That's life... You don't put anything in, you don't get anything back. After I'm done school I hope to move more towards shooting fashion and lifestyle work more but for sure continue to shoot sports, as well. Living in Calgary is somewhat giving me this push over Vancouver would with this. Seeing as it's not the easiest to phone up big name riders, hike 10 minutes into the forest and shoot something new that I've built, plus the winters are a bit of a downer.

With your artistic side do you take into account, the aesthetic side of building? Have you always been that way?
I guess you could say that. I used to just build the subject while focusing on the landscape and what I could get out of it easiest, you know? So I don't have to squeeze blood from a stone. That way I can find something that I can put together super fast, have it look good and then shoot it. I also really just like to focus on the quality of what I make, just take pride in it, ya dig?

For sure! So beyond digging and using the lay of the land, what inspires you and your photography?
Seeing good images? [Laughs] I don't know how else to explain that! I just see an unreal shot and I want to go make something that I create that’s as good, or better.

What is one of your favorite photos, in general? What's the story behind it?
[Laughs] That’s actually really hard. I've taken shots that I really dig, but I don't think I can actually pick a favorite. I guess the one of [Eric] Lawrenuk hitting the jersey barriers. Just because that was the week I moved back to Vancouver and I was just so glad to be able to shoot some bikes again. There isn't really a huge story behind it, though. Eric, Ross Measures and I just headed downtown to shoot some stuff one afternoon and that's what I came up with. I guess I was just really focused on the aesthetics of images; after coming back from art school… I don’t know how that makes me sound saying that... Kind of corny, I guess.

What trend in 2009 do you see us regretting in the future?
Oh man, that's hard! Clothes need to look cleaner and more low-key for starters. I know the form follows the function, but sometimes the stuff getting made just seems to get over designed. At least with race kits and stuff... White jeans could be another thing to regret for riding. You're just going to have to do laundry way too much and that will ruin your garment.

What are you looking to do in the upcoming year, any big plans?
Make some cash over the summer; shoot as much as I can and dig! I still have some jumps to finish that have been in progress for centuries. It would be nice to do a few trips over the summer too, Cleveland, Ohio and the Queen Charlotte Islands would be two places that I would love to go and scope with a few riders and shoot.

Anything else you’d like to add? Tips? Tricks? Shout outs?
Man this one’s is hard [laughs]

For my tip: Don't get too technical, too fast. It's what I see a lot of photographers doing these days, and it isn’t really worth it. Start simple with a nice little film slr and a 50mm and build from that. Your progression curve will just be that much more thorough.

Shout outs go to all the riders I’ve shot with, MTBVILLE, Wheels and Wax and anybody who has helped me along the line... Thank you.

Thanks Derek!

For more information on Derek and his work, check out his site:


  • 2 0
 Good stuff!
  • 1 0
 Great shots!! Really inspiring
  • 1 0
 derek saved my puppy from a burning building, a true hero
  • 1 0
 the man is truely one of a kind.
  • 1 0
 Great pics!!
Perfect timing!!
Some PODs in there!!Big Grin
  • 0 0
 See pictures like some of those are definatly deserving PODS. love the storie Smile
  • 1 0
 sick shots
  • 1 0
 wicked shots,
  • 1 0
 awesome shots
  • 1 0
 go dix!
  • 0 0
 That picture with the money.. Is sick beyond believe.
  • 0 0
 those are some pretty sweet photos
  • 0 1
 great pictures love the one in the house!!! Smile
  • 0 1
 woow Good PIC!

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