Snowboarding took me a lot of places, at least geographically — from Alaska and Greenland, to Russia and Svalbard. The pinnacle was probably shooting Jeremy Jones’ Deeper and Further expeditions from 2009 to 2012. But I lacked the commercial suss to earn a decent wage out of editorials and the couch-surfing lifestyle eventually got old.
Mountain biking was my escape from work and I wanted to keep it that way. But I went back to shooting it in 2004 after winning Bike magazine’s ‘Photo of the Year’ (with a selfie shot on B&W film using a Contax G2 camera). As I started to wind down the snowboarding, it took over.
“I’d loved to have shot is Jesse Owens winning at the ’36 Berlin Olympics in front of Hitler.”
‘Adventure’ is an overused and generic catch-all term, but I guess it best sums up my work. That element has always been important to me, right from that first independent backpacker trip in ’89. I’ve found a niche combining mountain biking with some quite ‘out there’ locations. Although these days I try to look for a human or social backstory to the adventure – something more significant than just ‘riding bikes across location X ’. I think that’s just me getting older. I’ve realised there are more poignant stories I can tell with my photos.
I’m always amazed at the power a photographer has to influence the story merely by how they choose to shoot it — from composition and framing to exposure and mood. I often frame outdoor and adventurous endeavours within a bigger landscape context which helps remind me (and the viewers I hope) that the world is mightier than we’ll ever be.
One event I’d loved to have shot is Jesse Owens winning at the ’36 Berlin Olympics in front of Hitler. That would have been an amazing moment to capture. Now that our lives are deluged by endless photos, the photograph has become an almost a transient, throw-away item. But the potential for a photo to tell a story should never be underestimated.