The Storm Before the Calm

Six photographers scramble to turn in their Deep Summer Photo Challenge slideshows

Photos by: Ryan Palmer

The big, relieving hand-off.

The big, relieving hand-off.

Photographer Gary Perkin's entrance into Whistler's Aava Hotel on Tuesday afternoon pretty much summed up the culmination of the three-day Deep Summer Photo Challenge. His hands were shaking from adrenaline, as he rushed in 20 minutes past the deadline with a tire slung over his shoulder, and tossed a USB memory stick to Deep Summer organizer Seb Kemp.

"My computer shit the bed this morning completely," said a breathless Perkin, a seasoned South African based photographer who traveled the World Cup circuit for much of his career and now shoots for Santa Cruz Bicycles.

Deep Summer organizer Seb Kemp gets a good laugh out of Gary Perkin's last-minute fire drill to get his slideshow in.

Deep Summer organizer Seb Kemp gets a good laugh out of Gary Perkin’s last-minute fire drill to get his slideshow in.

The six photographers participating in the invitation contest–Perkin, Brits Sam Needham and Laurence Crossman Enns, Kelowna, B.C.-based Grant Robinson, Brevard, North Carolina, newcomer Tim Koerber and BMX shooter Ryan Worcester–had until 1 p.m. to turn in their slideshows, which will be screened and judged tonight in Whistler Village as part of the Crankworx festival.

Photographers have three days to shoot images reflecting mountain bike culture in the Whistler Valley, and put together a slideshow set to music highlighting their best selections. This year, the slideshows must include a spin on three iconic Whistler images: the Top of the World trail with the Black Tusk in the background, the tree hip on Garbanzo and the GLC drop. A panel of judges, including Bike's own photo editor Anthony Smith, will award the $3,500 Best in Show prize, while an online audience will have 24 hours after Wednesday's main event to choose the viewers' favorite, who will win another $3,500.

Grant Robinson's notes from the trails.

Grant Robinson’s notes from the trails.

On Tuesday, the teams started trickling into the Aava Hotel at about noon–some exhausted from editing through the night and others wide-eyed and ready for a drink.

"I'm going to lie down for a bit," Needham said, just after turning his show into Kemp. "And have a beer. Many beers."

The teams experienced a range of pitfalls over the three shooting days including bee stings, mechanicals, broken cameras, broken bodies–pro rider Katie Holden, who was on Koerber's team, dislocated her shoulder on the first run of the first day, requiring an evacuation from the mountain–and challenging weather.

"Saturday night rained really hard so it was greasy," Kemp said. "They've had a good spread of weather, which is kind of cool."

Success. Photographer Ryan Worcester, second to right, turned his slideshow in an hour early and stopped for a quick photo with his team before hitting the bed and the bar. Probably not in that order.

Success. Photographer Ryan Worcester, second to right, turned his slideshow in an hour early and stopped for a quick photo with his team before hitting the bed and the bar. Probably not in that order.

The slideshows promise to show six unique perspectives on a place that's already been photographed from seemingly every angle and by every lens in the sport.

Worcester used his BMX background to take a different approach to shooting, eschewing typical trail riding to have his subjects session jumps and ride klunkers in potentially compromising situations. Koerber went with a 'When Things Go Wrong' theme and quickly found that to be a self-fulfilling prophecy two of his athletes injured themselves. Perkin selected a team of two unknown athletes and followed them around in a 'Day in the Life' theme, including shooting stages of last Saturday's Enduro World Series race and hike-a-biking 3.5 hours to the top of Rainbow Peak at 2 a.m.

"It was rad," Perkin said of the Challenge. "I loved it. It was pretty relaxed. We worked hard, had long days and shit, it was great fun. We had a few buckets at the GLC and lack of sleep."

The Deep Summer Photo Challenge takes place from 8:30 to 10 p.m. tonight in Whistler Olympic Plaza. Click here to view the slideshows and cast your vote for the viewers’ favorite prize. The shows will be posted after the events ends.