There are a lot of times where we have a truck with shuttle access and can hike in about anything to the filming location but for the example today; I’ll be going through what would come with me on an average mountain bike shoot where I would be riding along with the athlete which could end up being a 15-mile ride or more at times.
Everything fits nicely into my Shimoda camera bag with a medium internal core. Having the right bag is super important to the day as it will make a huge difference to comfort and eventually could wear you down if it doesn’t fit properly. As a previous boy scout, I do like to be prepared and sometimes a little over. Safety is important to me and also not being the person who forgets all the food. A rain jacket in the mountains might save your life, along with a lighter and a small first aid kit. I don’t think many assume this job requires much more than basic photography skills, but to me; the photography is only a part of the job. For the set up below, this would be a bigger kit for a serious shoot. If the ride was longer or less demanding, I might ditch a few items.
Here we go:
- Nikon D5
- Nikon Lenses - 70-200mm f2.8, 24-70mm 2.8, 14-24mm 2.8, 16mm fisheye
- Lens cleaning equipment (it gets dirty out there)
- XQD cards and wallet
- Spare Battery
- Snacks (clif bars, shot blocks, trail mix, beef jerky, etc.) Pro tip - Don’t put bananas in your bag and don’t ask how I know this.
- Camelbak Bladder
- Bikes tools, pump, tube
- SPOT Beacon
- Basic first aid kit (larger kit if multiples nights)
- Light rain jacket or shell
If I was staying overnight somewhere, I would be packing a few more things but to keep things simple, this is what I would be taking for a day out on the trails. Remember, things happen fast in the mountains and always use your best judgement.
Let’s take it way back - how did you get started as a mountain bike photographer?
I got my start as a mountain bike photographer by actually doing both separately. I’ve always biked, raced and loved the adventure of riding. Around the age of 15 in High School I also got into photography and loved it. It took me well over a year to put the two together and once I did; it felt like a whole new beginning. From there I just took off shooting my buddies as much as possible.
How have you seen the field change/develop over the years?
I’ve been following the field of other photographers for a long time. Back in the 2008 era, there were only a few MTB photographers that were big names in the industry. I remember seeing other guys like Bruno Long and Reuben Krabbe starting their careers as well, before taking off in a big way. It’s a cool feeling to know you’re in that mix of the younger generation of photographers.
You shoot a lot of high-profile events like Red Bull Rampage, the World Cup etc. How do you prepare for these?
Events like Rampage and World Cups are super physical on your body and take a lot to run around all day, so I took a new approach this year and started doing some more gym training. I think it helped but in the end, there’s only so much you can do. I also like to find other inspiration from F1 or surfing events because it’s shot in such a different way. Also knowing the event, tricks and riders really helps. It’s hard to come into one of these not knowing who can do what or how someone might look in a particular section of the course.
What’s one lesson you’ve learned throughout your years shooting?
Being kind and skilled off the camera goes a long way in this world. You can be the best, but if you aren’t someone people want to be around then there’s a pretty good chance you won’t get as much work. Also, just being dialed at what you’re doing helps as well, not showing up with half dead batteries and no rain jacket might raise some eyebrows.
Any tips for aspiring photographers?
When I was a young up and comer; it was hard to relate to the legends in MTB photography. It felt so far away to ever be at that level like Sterling Lorence (it still does). But if I could tell my younger self one thing, it would be that that however much you feel like a fish; those big fish out there were all little fish once in the same waters. They were all groms, they all fucked up, they were all broke at one point and were barely making a living from photography. The successful ones are where they are because they didn’t get discouraged and kept trying their hardest knowing that the reward would come one day.