Riders: Kevin Landry, Geoff Gulevich, Darcy Turenne, Ollie Jones
Editor: Darcy Turenne
Graphics: Jon Frederick
Music: Made in Heights, “Skylark Interbang”
If you asked professional photographers, on the eve of the Deep Summer Challenge, who they thought would win Crankworx’s whirlwind, ultimate-fighting-style photography competition, many would have pointed to Garrett Grove. The Washington-based photographer has been on a tear of late with both his ski and mountain bike photography. What’s more, Grove possesses a style that’s well suited to story-telling and conveying atmosphere—two traits which have proven key ingredients in winning Deep Summer entries in past years. Finally, Grove had Darcy Turenne on his team, as not only a rider, but also an ace photo editor. Darcy, fresh off winning Best Cinematography for her own film at the Scandinavian Film Challenge, brings a lot to the table. As did the rest of the riders, which included Geoff Gulevich, Kevin Landry and Ollie Jones.
Grove clearly threw his all into the slideshow, harnessing a Cessna 172 plane, camera water housing, a night of alpine camping, lots of driving, and smoke bombs in an attempt to convey that inspiring, airy feeling which we all chase throughout the summer months.
We sat down with Garrett following the show and got his take on the competition, his competitors and his own show.
Bike: Going into this competition, what did you think your chances were of winning the thing?
Garrett Grove: My goal going into it was to make something I was very proud of. I was nervous, to tell you the truth, because everyone in the show was extremely talented. After the show was over, we all hung out and partied together and Nic [Teichrob, the eventual winner] said, ‘I heard you were in the show and I knew I had to come out with everything I possibly could.’ Which is funny because when I heard that Teichrob was in the show, I thought the same thing and, actually, I felt that way about everyone else. They’re all great photographers. In my mind, I was thinking, ‘Okay, I’ve gotta come out with all guns blazing and hopefully, maybe, I can get up on that podium.
Once rookie and wildcard entry Duncan [Philpott’s] show started playing that night, I realized this was going to be tough and I might as well just sit down, enjoy this event, and not worry about it. Everyone is shooting at their best. That’s all there is to it.’
Bike: Did you have a goal for your slideshow—an idea that you wanted to convey?
GG: I wanted to capture that fleeting summer feeling of freedom, lightness and fun that we all chase through many mediums but specifically for this event with our bikes. That was my conceptual goal going into it.
Bike: Now, that Deep Summer is all over, how do you feel about your own show in retrospect? Are you happy with it? Are there things you would change if you were doing it all over again?
GG: I’m happy with it. When I went into the show, I was nervous. I could hold conversations, but my mind was really just asking itself, ‘Oh, man, what’s going to happen?’ Once the show started and I saw how good everyone’s shows were, I settled down a bit and remembered that all I really wanted to do was turn in a show I was personally proud of and which resonated with the audience giving them some sort of attachment to this passion that a lot of us center our lives on. The only thing, I guess in retrospect, that I could have done is end the show a little stronger, by tying it back in with the story I began telling at the outset. I ended with a bit too much action, but the edit was really tight, we were all super tired and you only have so much time to perfect the show.
Bike: Speaking of edit, it’s cool to see Darcy grow as not only a rider but an artist. Looking at your show, it definitely seemed to me that she had to be a big asset to your team.
GG: Oh, absolutely. We worked together this winter on a big project and we got along really well, so it just seemed natural to have her on our team. She’s obviously a great mountain biker and I knew I couldn’t edit the show as well as she could. Sure enough, I got all the photo edits done and she shows up at 9 A.M. on the day they were due and was able to do in no time at all what would have taken me days and days to do. Yeah, Darcy’s great.
Bike: What is the hardest aspect of pulling off a show for Deep Summer?
GG: I think it’s balancing out the freedom mixed with the restrictions. I mean, you can do practically anything. If you look at Bruno’s show, which is in my opinion was a standout show, you can do whatever you wanted, but you also have to meet these requirements of the Whistler Valley bike park, and have it all tie back into Whistler. It’s just an interesting balance of what you can do and what you can’t do—you have to find that line. And obviously the time constraint is difficult to work around, but also really motivating.
Bike: It’s great that they opened up the Deep Summer competition so that you could now shoot Squamish and Pemberton. Do you think they should open it up further, so you could shoot all along the Sea-to-Sky corridor? It seems like it’s got to be hard to tell a new story with your slideshow—something we haven’t already seen in past Deep Summer competitions, if the bulk of what you are able to shoot stays focused on the bike park.
GG: Going into it, I was really excited that they’d opened up the competition—you can get great shots in the bike park, but the fact that they now let you shoot Squamish, Pemberton and everything in between as well is definitely what made me want to do it. There have always been great shows, but yeah, they are kind of getting repetitive. Opening it up was a really good step.
I had lunch in Squamish with [photographer] Jordan Manley, yesterday and we were brainstorming about how to make the show even better. We thought of inviting five or six photographers who would be given a thousand bucks that they could invest it in their show however they wanted. As an example, there could be three categories you could aim for: the most epic and beautiful, the most creative and original, and the one that best exemplifies the Whistler Valley and culture.
If we did that, there’d still be an incentive to win some cash, but it would hopefully motivate photographers to be different so that someone like Bruno who puts out a show that’s way different would be rewarded. In other words, your show wouldn’t have to fit a mold so closely to potentially win this purse. Giving people an incentive to pursue different angles and to be risky with concepts could greatly increase the diversity and quality of the shows.
Bike: Yeah, you’d be incentivizing the photographers to branch out more and tell new stories because right now you have to play it kind of safe to win.
GG: You do have to play it somewhat safe, to an extent, to win and the shows are still great, but it’d be cool to see an even greater diversity of ideas and images. Deep Summer is a respected event and it would be great to see it take that next step. I think it could make Whistler look even better.
Bike: Well, you know, I can see that a part of the goal here is to draw people to the bike park, but if you get people onto the corridor, heading north from Vancouver, they just pretty much wind up here on their own, one way or another. The bike park draws people like moths to a flame. It’s just inevitable.
GG: Totally. And that’s what I tried to show. There’s Pemberton and Squamish, but if Whistler weren’t sitting there in between, a lot of people would never come up and ride all the other destinations. Whistler has a lot going for it. It’s definitely the big draw.
Bike: Is there a single shot that you are most proud of from your show?
GG: It’s hard to say, really. The underwater shots really captured the emotion I was going for and the aerials help give some perspective. I really like the last sunset shot on the ridge that I ended with, combining the emotion and perspective that I was going for. Those really captured my goals coming into this event.