Say Cheese

I started taking pictures because I felt as though there wasn’t a good enough record of my existence thus far here on Spaceship Earth.  The hobby started with pictures of my friends, places or views of note, and any other moment I felt should be immortalized in a [digital] negative.  What started as a semi-morbid realization has blossomed into an on-going “yearbook”, a record of “Life As It Is And Was”.  Books are time machines in their own nature, but photographs give us a glimpse of what the pages of text describe.  There is beauty, mystery, and excitement in pictures that words cannot describe.  I have a mild obsession with history, and I somehow want to leave my indelible mark.  And from my own realizations, I have come to appreciate the work of others on a new level.
   National Geographic magazines were always littered around my parents’ house, and still are to this day.  The pictures and stories together bring life from every corner of the globe right into the hands of the reader – it is like having a globe come to life.  Years ago, I asked for a holiday gift of a subscription to BIKE Mag and from then on, I have had the world of biking delivered into my living room each month.  This feeling of exploration from the couch is still as invigorating now as it was then.  The unique sensation for me is derived from the stunning photography gracing the magazine, cover to cover.  After BIKE, came Dirt – the words were spelled differently, the writing style was unique, and the photography blew my mind.  I still get jittery as I rip open the plastic bag holding the mind candy inside.
   Without the willing participation, dedication, and obsession of the camera-wielding men and women whose work I admire, you and I wouldn’t have anything to gawk at – print would be text, and more text.  We take our viewer’s pleasure for granted these days because the internet and magazine racks are flooded with photographic material – some good, a lot of it not great.  That is why the published works I mentioned are on a separate level in my eyes.  It is plain to see, after viewing unending amounts of terrible photos thanks to facebook and instagram, what makes the Vital Slideshows and the Dirt Galleries so world-class: The timing, the composition, the lighting, the post-editing – all of these matter, in so many ways it is hard to put to words.  Everyone is a “photographer” now that DSLRs are affordable and plentiful; that does not mean that everyone should be a “photographer”.  A keen eye, a driving passion, and a sense for the moment is what separates the Elite from a tourist.

   I have tremendous admiration for the all of the dedicated camera-toting wildmen out there in the elements, shooting day after day, chasing that perfect shot.  Guys like Gary Perkins and Sterling Lorence got me hooked; the now-seasoned Sven, the new-comer Duncan Philpott, my good friend Dave Trumpore, and the latest additions, Matt Delorme and Paris Gore all keep me glued to my computer screen these days for more time than I’d like to admit.  They bring the world, in which I wish I had the privilege to play, into my house.  Every race, every event, every two-wheel adventure comes barreling through my LCD screen screaming at me about how awesome [the captured moment] was.  That is what inspiration feels like – it hits hard with a feeling that stays; unexplainable, because if it was worthy of words, cameras wouldn’t be necessary.

Call this a “thank you” note, call this a gushing rambling about how amazing photography is, call it whatever.  I just want to impress upon you, the reader, that we are so very fortunate to be able to bare witness from any location, to the greatness that is mountain biking, racing, freeriding, and play-biking with friends.  This is a global sensation, and we all get to participate.  Occasionally we get to see a photo of a photo-in-the-making: Sven up in a tree or on a snow machine; Dave covered in roost; Matt ducking a falling rider; these “looks outside of the tape”, away from the trail, tell the real tale.  While the riders go back to the pits, or huddle under the eaves, the bold photogs lay in wait for the perfect shot to materialize, rain or shine.  It is a brutal occupation, but it’s not about the glitz or the glory, it is about creating history, sharing the now, inspiring the masses, and providing a visual to accompany the amazing memories for those who were there, or couldn’t be for that matter.  At times a thankless task, being a professional photographer can still be insanely gratifying because of what they get to witness.
Thank you all for your tireless dedication to capture the most memorable moments, making someone hike, “One more time!” and for holding yourselves to an unparalleled standard.  You all have provided me with front row seats to the world’s best competitions, and for that, I am forever grateful.


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