My first year in photography - the learning amateur eye.

Dec 14, 2010 at 11:38
by Tom Towers  
2010 has been a good year for photography for me. I was given an old Nikon d70 at the end of last year as a present which triggered my love of photography, downhill mountain biking being my other obsession, they both went together like bread and butter!

Read on for the story of my first year in photography,

I started off the year as a full on amateur, I knew the basics, but that was it. February was my first race experience, it was only a get together of some locals and doing some timed runs, but it was an ideal opportunity to sharpen my skills.

That would be Andrew Kelly with roost
That would be Andrew Kelly with roost
Dan riding with Andy looking confused
Dan riding with Andy looking confused

I only had the opportunity to photograph one proper race this year, which was BDS round 3, Llangollen during the summer, which was amazing! I loved every bit of it. It was also nice not having to constantly be asking mates to go around that berm again or that jump because the photo was shit, it was like a river of riders, constantly flowing down the trail.

Gee man
Gee man
Mr Fairclough
Mr Fairclough
Dan going in for the kill
Dan going in for the kill

Next year I shall be driving and I'm certain I will visit a lot more races! (Hopefully enter a few too.) Between the races I have just been up at the local trails with the camera, except when I visited France in August:

Nice crisp whip
Nice crisp whip
Lew whipping the small table
Lew whipping the small table
Some of the epic scenery
Some of the epic scenery
Guy with style on the airbag
Guy with style on the airbag
Mad frenchies
Mad frenchies
The new and improved Les Gets road gap photo!
The new and improved Les Gets road gap photo!

You can't beat local trails. These are the ones in which I visit the most often, I have so many photos to choose from!

Jake on the stepdown at the quarry
Jake on the stepdown at the quarry
Lew riding the rockgarden at Ilkley
Lew riding the rockgarden at Ilkley
Jake getting some roost!
Jake getting some roost!
Mike with a bit of old school urban freeriding
Mike with a bit of old school urban freeriding
Joe and Ant doing the berm gap
Joe and Ant doing the berm gap
Jake railing the switchbacks
Jake railing the switchbacks

This year I received my first POD, which was such a massive surprise. Getting this honestly pushed me to carry on what I do:


I visited Glentress, which was brilliant! These pics are the result of a borrowed camera:

Joe doing a super flat table
Joe doing a super flat table
Joe and Tom in a train
Joe and Tom in a train
Pretty sweet griz air
Pretty sweet griz air

Learning to use a remote flash has been a great experience in itself!

Josh riding up at ilkley
Josh riding up at ilkley
Getting low on the flat corner
Getting low on the flat corner
Whip in the snow
Whip in the snow
Mike riding the rock garden at Ilkley
Mike riding the rock garden at Ilkley


Next year, I plan to carry on taking photos, hopefully upgrade the camera, buy a few new lenses and other bits and pieces and try explore new places and meet some more amazing people.

Cheers and Happy Holidays!


147 Comments

  • + 26
 Nice shots mate!
  • + 2
 cheers Smile
  • + 9
 wow, the first thing i've read all the way through. congrats buddy and i hope to see you soon... sorry bea5ty but this message isnt aimmed at you Smile
  • + 1
 cheers man, yeahh! not seen you in ages! now your bikeless too :/
  • + 4
 gwarrrrrrrrn tom
  • + 2
 Awesome!!!!!!! Great shots!!
  • + 1
 only one pod? really i would think all of these could get it
  • + 2
 yahh only one pod :/ and in my opinion it wasnt worth it
  • + 7
 Nice write up and pics man! theres definatly more than 1 fecking pod there!
  • - 3
 every shot is perfect! good work
  • + 8
 @ TOPoftheworld No they aren't. There's a few good ones, but perfect is the wrong term for most of them. Good progression over the year though learning new skills with off camera flashes is great. Off camera flash opens a whole new world as a photographer and is very difficult to master but worth it. Happy shooting!
  • + 1
 cheers lad
  • + 1
 legit
  • + 1
 those glentress photos bring back such good memories, i really need to go back there
  • + 4
 i think people need to understand the concept of critiquing, which is constructive criticism. so instead of saying " This sucks, you didnt expose enough.." or whatever, something along those lines. Say something like "in this photo i think it would have looked a little better if you had done... this.. rather than what you did because..." This would then end all of the pinkbike eArguments. try it sometime, it may just work!

Anyways, really loved the pictures man! Keep up the good work, and i look forward to seeing some amazing shots in the future!
  • + 1
 thanks a lot dude Beer
  • + 1
 You may be right, but if he can't handle a little passive criticism at this level, wait until he rides this high that everyone has him on and submits them to a photo editor who (if he or she even takes the time to respond) won't be half as pleasant as I am, believe me. These guys building him up for a huge let down is not doing him any favours. You need to be critical of your work, and you can't take it personally when someone else doesn't like it. Pick up a magazine, compare these photos to the published ones, and see if you can spot the differences.
  • + 2
 either way, its still gonna help more if hes given constructive criticism at this stage to help him grow as a photographer so he can then get better the beginning of photography is all about learning it and understanding it. saying his photo sucks isnt going to help him to become a better photographer because he then doesnt have any input on how to make it better.
  • - 1
 i'm with emjay, he seems to be a well educated guy and he's a realist
  • + 2
 Nice shots there, good creativity and imagination! I'm starting my full season of race photography this year. I learnt so much last year, thanks to some excellent riding from my subjects as much as my personal progression. So I've got respect for your work.
MTB photography is a deceptively hard undertaking, it's a shame certain members (previously) have been very quick to berate your contributions. It's a pretty clear article title; 'My First Year In Photographing-the learning AMATEUR eye' !!!
Crack on fella, I'll see you on a windy hill soon I hope, we'll have to have a good natter and compare Nikon's Smile
  • + 2
 cheers lad, i hope to be driving next year so i should be at a lot more races Big Grin
  • + 2
 Constructive criticism: work on exposure and framing. These have potential but need a little more work finding the right angle and the correct exposure. It takes a lot of time and dedication to get to the top in the photography business.

Shoot lots and lots and take criticism, even if it is harsh. You need to hear it to improve. Better hearing it on here than from a photo editor with a $10 000 contract.

There are many people in the industry that, no offense, shoot photos that are in a completely different league to these. They don't get the lucky breaks such as a PinkBike article. You should be thankful for the opportunity to hear peoples opinions on your work, even if it isn't what you want to hear to stroke your ego. Succeeding doesn't happen over night (or just a year shooting). You've got a long way to go but good luck to you
  • + 2
 A nice article, good to see pinkbike giving a amateur photographer some exposure/support, weldone on the photos and keep enjoying and learning what you do. I look forward to seeing you getting more PODs. Weldone to the pro photographers above for your encouragement. Just a note glad to see none of the photos were fake photoshopped.
  • + 5
 You said 1 year? It looks like you were photographer for years.
  • + 2
 well... its a year and nearly a month Razz

thanks Beer
  • + 2
 Great work! I'm sure you are, but I guess this is a tip for all photogs reading: shoot other non-bike stuff. It'll spice things up for you and probably help you develop your skills and bring them to the races!
  • + 4
 yea lad! Llangollen ones are the best. Seriously wouldn't know the difference between yours and a pros.
  • + 2
 Nice work. I thought that you had some really good photos, many of which are POD worthly, or at least runners up. Keep up the good work!
  • + 2
 You have some nice shots in there. The strobe thing is getting crazy in MTBing these last few years really like your natural light shots.
  • + 2
 nice write up and photos man, ive just got a nikon d70 for my first dlsr and i love riding and taking photos of it, so maybe in one year ill have a post like this haha Smile
  • + 1
 thanks mate, and yeah do it Big Grin
  • + 2
 A great sense of action is captured in your shots. I especially love the body position of Brendan Fairclogh. BTW - gott change the name of Les Gets to Les Crack! LOL
  • + 1
 ha yeah! cheers
  • + 2
 Got love biking and shooting bikers! For someone new to the biz, you have a great eye and perspective! Keep it up!
  • + 2
 cool story mate and great pics look forward to seeing you at the bds next year , have a great christmas
  • + 2
 sick tomm u can tell your progress from them first few!!!
even better since it featurs me Wink
  • + 2
 ohh yeahh Wink
looking back at all the old photos brings back soooo many memories!
  • + 1
 Those were really good!! about 90% i liked A LOT!! the other 10 was just average so so nothing to catch my eye. Just giving opinion for your improvement with feed back
  • + 1
 yeah cheers
  • + 2
 No prob. Keep it up!
  • + 4
 sweet Smile great pics
  • + 2
 thanks
  • + 2
 sweet write up man and pictures can see progression, keep up the good work Salute
  • + 2
 theres a few there you should sell!!!! got onto devient art and get some prints up!
  • + 2
 Well done curly-haired-invader these pictures are gnarly as f#ck, they are well impressive.
Keep up the good work :-)
  • + 2
 Awesome shots and a cool little story there mate! Its a good day when my dash is yellow cos i know you've been out snapping!
  • + 2
 so many fantastic pics, well done pal!
  • + 2
 man this is sweet dint no u was on with anything like it pics are awsome
  • + 2
 just decided to write it up earlier
  • + 2
 sick Wink good job
  • + 2
 love all of these pictures !
  • + 2
 nice one mate , looking forward to your first book
  • + 2
 sponserd yet you should be
  • + 2
 dude solid work! keep it up!
  • + 2
 Well done lad. The Towers will take over the world Wink
  • + 1
 mua ha ha
  • + 2
 keep it up i can't wait to start my first session photographing biking
  • + 2
 Keep up the good work man!
  • + 2
 great work for a first year photographer! awesome...keep it up!
  • + 3
 Cool!
  • + 2
 mint tom , should do articles in mbuk , youd fit right it
  • + 2
 lotsa amazing pics man Big Grin
  • + 1
 oh, and gratz on getting the front page Wink
  • + 1
 Lovin these pictures like, also what is the frame that is in with the guy doing the stairs anyone??
  • + 1
 Zumbi F-44. Team issue colours that one.
  • + 2
 nice man

now how do i share this with friends?
  • + 1
 yahh, there should be a share button :/ only other way is WHORE DAT LINK! Razz

haha Wink
curly-haired-invader.pinkbike.com/blog/Ayearinphotography.html
  • + 3
 rolled up my sleeves Construction
  • + 1
 Your rockin' it now dude, just keep at it and you could be in some serious money in a couple of years!
  • + 2
 Awesome write up mate Smile well done!
  • + 2
 sick !! maybe i sould use my d70 abit more !
  • + 1
 great shots man especially for your 1st time!!!
  • + 2
 awesomeeee Tom
  • + 2
 good effort TT
  • + 1
 cheeeers man Smile
  • + 2
 good work pal! nice!
  • + 2
 Very nice
  • + 2
 it ´s great
  • + 2
 Lookin' good!
  • + 2
 nice shots Big Grin
  • + 2
 NICE ONE TOM. Big Grin
  • + 2
 Nice man!
  • + 1
 were they all taken on the d70?
  • + 1
 yeah all of them Smile
  • + 1
 ahh wicked, its only 6.7mp isent it?
  • + 3
 Fairplay man! i love your pics!
  • + 1
 Can never get them that sharp on mine !
  • + 2
 SHOW! Downhill yes!
  • + 2
 Super nice shots tup
  • + 1
 Looking great Tom Big Grin More BDS and Scotland next year? Razz
  • + 1
 certainly sir!! should have a car so i will be yeah!
  • + 1
 NIce work! Is the berm gap in Adel woods?
  • + 1
 yeeah
  • + 1
 You ride around leeds much?
  • + 1
 Nice! The images off Gee and the whip in the snow are immense
  • + 1
 amazing photography mate!
  • + 2
 Sick pics as always mate
  • + 1
 nice shot a decent
  • + 1
 some nice photos there!
  • + 1
 yeah
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