In a world of social media, Youtube edits, and the millions of images that subliminally come our way through advertising and promotions, would I be alone in thinking that using our imagination; throwing in a bit of self ego, the activity we choose, we all have that image of ourselves, professionally taken, the one to show the grandkids that, says 'yes Grandad could actually get two wheels off the ground', or surf, or shoot, or ski or snowboard. Be honest, I reckon we'd all like that one shot and in a world of selfies, which I'm guilty of too, I'd rather have an image of me actually riding, or surfing, rather than just, here's another of me up the hill on my bike or, here's me at the beach, just before I had a great surf.
Some professional athletes use these images to boost their own self confidence when needed for competition, the comments from followers like 'shredding'or 'your ripping' will arguably be boost to the ego, but can most certainly boost self belief in a positive way ahead of competition.
When I returned to racing BMX for a brief three years, there was an abundance of photographers present, even friends and family of other riders. By the time you got home you'd already been tagged in a few shots on Facebook, so I have more shots of me racing BMX from one regional than nearly 30 years of surfing, or a lifetime riding bikes. It's different when you choose sports like surfing or riding mountain bikes as your main activities, there just aren't the photographers sitting in the bushes on the trail, or on the rocks, waiting for you to pass, ready to get the shot of that style you think you have in you mind, or catch that one wave that you secretly hope someone else saw.
Actually there are at bike parks, MX practice tracks and maybe Surf snowdonia that have photographers on hand, but thats not what I'm talking about here.
Professional riders, surfers, extreme sports stars, will have an entourage of professional photographers chasing after them, arranging to shoot, all seeking that online winner, or cover magazine shot that makes them able to gain a salary. For us, the general public, the followers, subscribers and fans, (yes at nearly fifty I'm still a fan), those images are there to make us want to get out and ride, surf, live in a van, chase our dreams, or grow veg and work from home.
I have my favourite snappers, or 'media squids' as their know in mountain biking, like Duncan Philpott (@duncanphilpott), or Sven Martin (@svenmartinphoto) who create images that inspire or motivate me to ride. In surfing, my friend James Parry is taking some amazing photos, and being an exceptional surfer himself he knows exactly what he's looking for. There ability to capture that moment is phenomenal and I suppose slightly vain, I've always wanted that one shot of myself.
I mentioned in a previous last blog about visualising a shot that I had in mind. Whilst out surfing I was thinking about this one shot, so I thought I'd provide a little more detail. But firstly, I must let you know that this morning as I was just finishing this blog, my friend Josef, who took all these images, messaged me telling me he had just won Young Landscape Photographer of the Year 2018, with the shot at the bottom of this post. I'm so proud of him and thoroughly stoked for him as he works so hard to capture amazing images. I always new this shot was very special and so did the judges it would seem.
So here's a little background......
A year or so ago, I was riding with Jago and met a bunch of riders clearing new trails amongst the dying heather, and having fun on the hill. One of them was a young photographer called Josef Fitzgerald-Patrick and we got chatting about riding and photography. Last year we met up and I told him of this idea of a photograph that I'd had, so combining our creative minds, his more than mine, we set about search the right spot for the image I'd like to see come to fruition.
The first shot above, was my vision, an image of me riding flat out down a trail, but I wanted the image to look like I was riding anywhere in the world, with a sense of freedom that mountain biking provides in abundance.
Josef nailed it, and that's because he's a fantastic 'photo squid', he knew where to get this shot. I was so happy with the result, the distance, the lighting, the feel, and the story that could be written behind it. If I had given Josef a brief, he delivered, and this was just one of many he took that evening. The rocky trail within this image could be the Scottish Highlands, Scandanavia, the alps, and beyond, but I know its Cornwall, and as far as I was concerned his work was done.
But then Josef had his idea to fulfil, the image that he'd had in his mind. So we rode off to Lands End and this he time directed to the chosen line which including a rocky outcrop drop, with the sunsetting over the ocean. Never shoot into the sun they say, I say why not? This shot was Josef's vision. I happily obliged and I rode the line until this young perfectionist got his shot. The shot you see just below, shall we say effort number one, is a banger, we had so much positive feedback. But quietly, I think this shot niggled Josef, knowing he could produce a better image with better light, better results. When he called to see if I was up for trying again, I was so stoked, and to be brutally honest, humbled to be asked again, I'm 49 and not some young whipper snapper.
The second shot below is the image Josef was seeking, this shot has it all, the iconic rock drop, the sun behind the bike and well, depth of field, the ocean, composition, the whole nine yards. At the end of the day, this will be the shot to show my grandchildren.....'Your old granddad was alright on a bike'. As mentioned, this shot won Josef the Young Landscape Photographer of the Year 2018, what a huge achievement. This shot is today plastered across the BBC website homepage. This shot will get Josef all the recognition he deserves. He spends hours out on the coastal paths capturing images. I would love to see Josef become a full media squid on the World Enduro Series, tucked in behind some forest or rocky outcrop, taking shots of the worlds best, and thats his dream. Wherever Josef takes his photography, he'll be putting out shots that inspire.
To finish I just want to thank Josef for his hard work and letting me be part of this image, I'm so stoked. I understand the hours editing the hundreds of shots, just to get the one your happy with, the one that might get. Josef is a great photographer, already proven by winning the South West Coastpath shot of the year 2017 with a banger from the Lands End Fireworks display. Please check his photography on instagram @jfpimages or @cornwallsportsphotography
Thanks to DMR Bikes, Team MInd and Presca Teamwear