As a frequent Pinkbike user I have come to notice certain trends with the POD’s that are usually quite consistent. In this article I will discuss what I believe those trends are, and how when combined they can make for some quite spectacular photographs.
Read on and things will start to make some sense!Before continuing please read the following points… Since my last article [L=https://www.pinkbike.com/news/mountain-biking-greatest-sport-2008.html?trk=n,17]“The Greatest Sport in the World[/L],” was not necessarily greeted with the most open of minds, I have prepared a little something to warn readers in advance.
This is NOT an essay, not even close to an attempt, so don’t be offended if my grammar is significantly sub-par of your own, if my sentences run on, or if my points aren’t sufficiently supported with citations and a reference list. This is not a history, medicinal, political, or scientific paper, I am not talking about wars, politics, health, diseases or anything really dangerous to be wrong about. I don’t write books for fun, I am not an author or photographer, I’m just a rider that notices things and chooses to write about them. So take my points with a relatively large grain of salt and understand that they are all OPINIONS, which means that they are neither right nor wrong. In the end it is your own opinion that matters, and if you get anything out of this I hope it would help you hone your own beliefs.
That being said I feel like I can start talking about what I planned to discuss. The POD is something that has been chosen every day on Pinkbike since its emergence in 2001. From The first POD to the most recent PODs there are many differences that I don’t feel I really need to discuss. However it is quite clear that the credentials that made pictures POD worthy 7 years ago are very different than those that make PODs today. To make more of a neutral argument I will do more asking questions than providing my own biased answers.
To start off, should the photographer, photo editor, rider, or trail builder be credited when a picture is classified as POD? I’m sure most people feel that asking, “Who gets the credit?” doesn’t really matter, but when you think about it there is always more to a picture than just pushing a button. A picture of an amazing rider doing an awesome super flip will never be awarded POD if it is a blurred shot, if the lighting is dark or dim, or if the camera angle isn’t suitable. I will not try to argue that there is 1 single person that is due the credit for a POD, but rather that it is a collective effort of the rider, photographer, editor and trail builder. After all if you take any of those four contributors out of the equation, the chance of a picture getting POD is greatly reduced.
So what is the ultimate purpose of a POD?
Is it intended to display superior riding skill?
Is it supposed to show advances in photographic and editing technology?
Is it intended to capture the ultimate essence of what it means to ride a bike?
Or is there no secret underlying purpose? (It’s just supposed to show some sick riding shots)
Asking questions like these can help us formulate our own ideas about what we would like to see in PODs. Personally I am a big fan of seeing the heart stopping big gaps and drops, and things that just seem humanly impossible. I would take those pictures any day over what I like to call “just good quality riding shots.” The photographs that we can classify as “just good riding shots” are the ones that are awarded POD primarily because of photographic and editing quality. However these are simply my opinions, which is why I made a quick list of qualities that most PODs have. In NO way is a POD restricted to only one of these qualities, often the best PODs score high in ALL categories. 1. Display of Spectacular Skill
2. Stunning Lighting and color
3. Unique/Epic background
4. Thrilling sequence shot
5. Good times with friends
6. Huckin' huge
7. Random 1. Display of spectacular skill
These are often my favorite PODs. Regardless of the quality of the photograph, these pictures are chosen to be POD because of their ability to display spectacular riding skill. These skills are often represented by pictures that display ideal form (as seen in the above picture), style, perfectly flat and sometimes inverted tables, backflips etc. The majority of PODs usually display amazing riding skill combined with good photographic quality. I chose the above POD to represent my idea of spectacular riding skill because it is not necessarily the greatest quality photo, but it DEFINITELY shows amazing riding skill, which in my opinion is the most important quality of PODs. 2. Stunning Lighting and Color
These photographs are characterized by often intense colors, unique flash placement and superior photograph clarity. They are always very aesthetically pleasing but don’t always have to display spectacular riding skill. I am NOT saying that they never show good riding skill, but rather a lack of riding talent can often be overshadowed by superior photograph quality. Thankfully the majority of PODs include Stunning lighting and color with a display of spectacular skill. However if you look in the comments posted on the photo used for this example, you will see that most people don’t like to see PODs that are chosen simply because of good lighting and color.3. Unique/Epic Background
Much like category number 2 the unique/epic background photos are absolutely amazing to look at but often overshadow the necessity to have actual biking in PODs. Don’t get me wrong, the photographs that include amazing riding talent, wonderful photo quality, and an amazingly epic background are often the best PODs. However, I feel that despite how nice a picture may look it should at least have someone riding their bike in it. Backgrounds that can be included in this category are epic waterfalls, mountains, amazing looking trails, sunset shots, breathtaking views, and pictures where the sky is absolutely hypnotic. I love these pictures because they bring a unique ruggedness and adventure to the sport of mountain biking. The only thing I ask is that our sport be well represented by riding talent rather than good photography of scenery. 4. Thrilling sequence shot
The sequence shot is a very unique type of biking photo. It has the ability to display a movement in a way similar to that of a video, but all in one picture. The sequence photos that usually get POD are the ones that often show a rider hitting a huge gap or drop that make it seem as if the picture is telling a descriptive story from takeoff to landing. They are also used when a jump or drop is so large that simply taking one photograph would not provide a true essence for the size of the feature. Thrilling sequence PODs are the closest you can get to watching a video without pushing play. 5. Good times with friends
What’s better than seeing a picture of one person doing something cool on a bike? The only answer would be to see two or more people doing amazing things in the same picture. These POD’s are any photos that include 2 or more riders that were classified as PODs mainly because of the different riders included in the same shot. I am quite happy when “good times with friends” pictures are distinguished as PODs because it brings a sense of comradery to the sport of mountain biking, which at times may be thought of as an entirely individual sport. When you see pictures of two guys doing back flips in unison, or a dude nipping at his buddies heels on a DH course, or a huge train of riders like in the above POD, for some reason the word team comes into mind. Though my last article insisted that I was not a fan of team sports, I definitely support certain qualities of them. They have the ability to promote group cohesion, friendship, and positive social interactions. A lot of people wouldn’t call biking a team sport but its pictures like these that make us rethink what we call teams. For that reason I included the “good times with friends” pictures as a quality of some particular PODs.
6. Huckin Huge
The “Huckin Huge” title pretty much says it all for this category. These pictures include shots where a rider is hitting an 40+ foot road gap, a monstrous DJ double, or any picture where the sheer size of the height, gap, and drop is absolutely phenomenal. As I have already stated, the “huckin huge” pictures are always my favorite because they have the ability to make your palms sweat, heart pound in your ears, and give you feelings that are rarely replicated when sitting comfortably and staring at a computer screen. However I am sure that people have other opinions which vary from mine so I will leave it at that. The “Huckin Huge” picture is often very well received by the Pinkbike audience, simply because of the perceptive impossibility of the riding feat. Few people in the world can say that then have hit jumps so big that they have a good understanding of what skydiving would be like. Because of that, my favorite pictures will always be those that make my heart race, rather than those that would make me want to pick up a camera instead of a bike.
This category includes all PODs that couldn’t really be classified in the other main categories. They often show gnarly crashes, bottom outs, faceplants, fire jumps, holiday related riding, riding with babies, or flat out funny situations. They don’t have to be good clarity photographs, their only requirement is that they display something entirely unique and special that is not normally considered in the usual realm of PODs. It’s impossible to accurately describe the random photos, although they are commonly pretty funny, shocking, and somewhat confusing. The random photos are a great little addition as PODs because they expose the reality of spontaneity in the sport of mountain biking. To close I will re-ask some of the questions that I have already put forth…
What do you feel makes for a great POD?
Who should be credited for the POD? (Photographer, editor, rider, trail builder)
Is the POD intended to show advances in photographic and editing technology?
Should we be calling pictures PODs where riding is not the focal point of the photo?
Is it wrong to set up a shot to try and get a POD?
Is the POD intended to display superior riding skill?
When I think of the Photo Of the Day, I think of a picture that has the ability to inspire someone to go ride their bike. My list of POD qualities is simply just a list of things I have noticed about the PODs over the years. MY definition of a POD is “any outstanding riding photo that is chosen daily by the Pinkbike website, which captures the essence of what it means to ride bikes.” If that one doesn’t work for you then feel free to make your own or you can stick with the easy definition, “they’re just great riding pictures.” Personally, I like to form my own opinion, so I leave you with a photo of my friend Matt Macduff that I feel should be a POD sometime soon…