the dan milner photography blog: tales of an adventuring photo chimp

April 8, 2010

The best rider is the one who’s having the most fun…

Filed under: bike, photography — danmilner @ 1:29 pm

So in all the chaos that has been the last two months of stamping a whopping carbon footprint around the world, I overlooked to mention the 7 page gallery “portfolio” of mine that appeared in the UK’s Singletrack mountain bike magazine last month (that’s issue 55 if you’re looking to order a back issue on their website!). Who’d have thought it!

Well, there was a time when I would have been shouting this accolade from the rooftops of course, after all it was a whole 7 pages dedicated to only my work… and, I’m glad to say, now is no different. It’s not that I’ve become complacent, just that it slipped my mind as I romped around various mountain ranges of the world immersed in making pro-snowboarders look ruddy, bloody good. No matter how many pages of coverage you regularly fill, and how long you’ve been doing all this, landing a portfolio in a mag is still both an honor and accomplishment. So of course I’m chuffed to bits. Thanks nice Singletrack people.

When it comes down to selecting a set of shots that will depict your shooting style (and give the reader something to inspire them to get out on their bike) though it is not as easy as it may sound, at least not when you have several hundred, or even thousand images to choose from. Do you go artsy? Or push the gnarl factor? How about exotic? Or maybe just beautifully lit? Well, the main idea for me at least is to put together a set of shots that will turn some heads but keep them turning back again, time after time, even after the issue has become dog-eared and ringed with coffee mug stains. Aware that Singletrack is a far cry from the DH-fullface helmet style of some riders, I tailored my offerings to their photo ed into a very all-mountain orientated collection; pretty easy as that’s 99% of bike stuff I shoot (mainly as it’s the kind of shot that makes me want to go and ride. Simple). But making a selection for the portfolio got me thinking and uncannily tied in to a conversation I had with a highly profiled pro-snowboarder only last week, when he asked me if I preferred to shoot bike or snowboarding. I told him they were, up ’til now at least quite different fish (not least as the snow mags ‘need’ big names on their pages to drive their market, or at least that’s what they imply). So on the snow front I shoot only with pro riders. Compare that with almost a decade of shooting mountain biking and having scores of bike shots published, 99% of the riders in which are unsponsored and are essentially friends who happen to be handy on a bike. Some of them even manage to look good without gurning too while doing it.

Sure there are plenty of cross-overs between shooting the two different sports, but there are probably more differences than similarities (apart from an understanding of how each works and the ability to make that translate into a good shot). A decent bro-not-pro mountain biker can make a trail look like the the Shangri-la of wanna ride destinations, while it takes a damn good (and usually pro) snowboarder to make sliding on snow look aspirational. (On that note you’d be surprised how many pro snowboarders struggle to make the powder turn look good… odd but true.). Dont get me wrong, looking like a muppet on a bike will never pass my critical filter, but all in all, you can just get too caught up in the style issue, and that’s something that bugs the heck out of me in the fickle world of snowboarding.

Later that day, while we sat around the eternally lit camp stove trying to melt enough snow to rehydrate our group after a day of hiking lines, the conversation continued, turning to what makes a good rider, well, good. ‘The best snowboarder’, said my pro gnarl-monkey, “is the one who’s having the most fun”. And then it really dawned on me why most of my mountain bike work is still shot with mates while romping around adventurous destinations and facing real bikey challenges.

Thats why the rather pleasant gallery that appeared in Singletrack 55, are the best riders in the world



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