Words by Brice Minnigh
Photo by John Gibson
While you’re thumbing through the pages of this year’s Photo Annual, basking in the majestic glow of the images and marveling over the consummate skill of
the craftsmen who created them, consider this notion: Mountain-bike photography is a piece of cake. Here’s why:
With the breathtaking natural backdrops and staggering style of progressive riders, photographers would have to work harder to fail than succeed in capturing the splendor. They just find a nice spot to stand, choose some
middle-of-the-road settings and let nature and the rider do all the rest. It’s like taking candy from a baby.
Given the high fitness levels and tireless work ethic of most athletes eager for exposure, many photographers don’t sweat getting the shot in the first few attempts. Firmly in the driver’s seat, they can ask riders to roll features over
and over again. “I got it, but ride it again,” is a familiar refrain. We call this the ‘uno mas’ phenomenon. But c’mon, guys—one out of 10 is an easy ratio to hit, isn’t it?
Comically, many mountain-bike photographers try to justify their cheeky demands by continually reminding us how heavy their camera packs are. “Do you realize just how many lenses I have in there, man?” they whine before
refusing our offers to help carry their equipment up a long climb. Rather than moaning, they should just grab a lens and their favorite beverage, take a seat in a lawn chair and load that memory card up with ones and zeros.
In this digital era of photography, all shooters are now reduced to equality— after an image has been exposed, that is. Having trouble reading the light? Totally blew the exposure? No worries. Just convert it to black and white, pump up the blacks and put a vignette on it. Now it’s legit.
And for those struggling with creative composition, there’s no need to stress over any lack of imaginative foresight. That’s the beauty of a high-speed shutter—if their concept is uninspired, they can always just turn the whole
shebang into a sequence.
In a sport that’s saturated with photographers, shooting events affords endless options. Anyone struggling to fi nd ‘the shot’ can just shadow a more established pro and poach their setup. This happens both in real-time and after the fact. Shoulder hoppers, we know who you are.
In fact, it’s so easy to be a mountain-bike photographer that many are finding they might as well also become videographers. With most modern still cameras
now offering video capabilities, it’s no longer a quantum leap into a new discipline. Ansel Adams or Ingmar Bergman? Flip the switch. It’s your choice.