Put Something In The Box
It would be a lie if I said their work wasn’t a major impetus to start the 5 Questions interviews. I immediately connected with Jered (@jeredgruber) and Ashley Gruber’s (@a_gruber) learn-on-the-fly photography style and have enjoyed watching their learning process through their lenses (as has most of the cycling internet). And it’s not only the evolution of the artistic/technical side of photography we’ve witnessed, their growing pains when dealing with the business side were experienced by all. The Giro image debacle [Link: Jered Gruber, The Giro & The Shot] opened both their eyes to the importance of locking down their work legally.
The duo have kept themselves extremely busy the past year not only capturing the Classics and the Giro, but also shooting for companies like Castelli and Focus (to name but a few). As I was quickly sorting through their VAST array of images on Flickr I quickly had to limit myself to only a few subjects. Seeing as we’re on the doorstep of the Spring Classics, I naturally started with images from Roubaix and Flanders. However, I couldn’t limit myself to just the single day races. Their Giro work was just as powerful—so I added a few of those. Those that didn’t make it were just as good as those that did. Needless to say, it was a difficult process.
The series of shots we took at the Roubaix Velodrome almost didn’t happen. Our day chasing the race with Roger Hammond and inGamba Tours was a thrilling adventure. I’ll emphasize thrilling. At one point, as we made the mad dash to the finish in Roubaix, we were driving on the grass, passing stopped traffic. Needless to say we weren’t very popular, but long-time soigneur Bart Brackez and Classics stalwart Hammond were in the zone. They weren’t bothered by anything, let alone something as trivial as a traffic jam.
Once we got there the travails continued, but we eventually found a spot in the stands. I couldn’t get trackside because we got to the race start in Compiegne late. So this whole day of chasing the race was done sans credentials, making the end result that much more unbelievable, for me at least. I walked and walked and walked, hoping to find a good angle, something different, something worth taking a picture of. When I settled down, I almost sat down in Gregg Germer’s lap. We stay at Gregg and his wife Holly’s amazing cycling hotel, The ChainStay for about two or three months a year, so seeing Gregg was not out of the ordinary, but seeing him in the bushes above the track at Roubaix was a bit less ordinary.
From that vantage point, it was just a matter of shooting. I shot as much as I could as Boonen enjoyed his solo triumph and kept on shooting as the riders trickled in. I’d like to say that there’s something more to that image, but the hardest part was finding that initial spot. Once I locked in that general area, all that was left to do was compose and click, compose and click. Flags always make things better. I often joke about carrying some giant Belgian and Flandrian flags with us everywhere we go and then handing them out to people to wave. Instant goodness!
I was pretty scared at the start of the day when they told us that we wouldn’t be getting press credentials. Shame on me for doubting the superpowers of Bart and Roger.
I’ve been dying to get @Panforte and @BrakeThrough, otherwise known as Iri Snow Greco and Jim Fryer of BrakeThrough Media, to do a “5 Questions” interview for nearly a year. However, if you follow them through Instagram or Twitter you’ll know how RIDICULOUS their schedule is. One moment they’re in the heart of Belgium shooting the Spring Classics, the next they’re in New York City filming/shooting exquisite looking (and hopefully tasting) cuisine.
This is a massive interview—I indulged a bit with the bonus questions. So let’s get to it.
The limestone stairs at #Louisville2013 became a signature spot for many photographers on the CX Worlds course. It offered a grandscale background of fans, flags, and color while allowing us to capture close-up the gritty, mud-strewn faces of the riders cresting them. Jim and I didn’t spend too much time at the top of the stairs during the race, though, since it was a slick hillside run-up or slide-down from them to get to other areas to shoot. In this shot, American Jeremy Powers tops the stairs with Ryan Trebon hot on his heels. The significance of this moment in time is unique since it shows two of the top American cyclocross racers against a backdrop of the greatest CX crowds the U.S. has ever seen while the USA Cycling logo can be spotted behind them.
In the vomit-inducing blur that is my mind, I recall discovering Balint Hamvas, aka Cyclephotos, several years ago. Loved his CX images and sometimes wished he shot some of the road classics—his style suited them. I also vaguely remember (perhaps incorrectly) his site not being updated for quite some time and thinking he stopped shooting. Fast-forward to today and Balint’s sitting firmly on a print book whilst establishing himself as one of the hottest CX photogs in the business.
This photo was taken at Hamme-Zogge, one of the most boring courses in the calendar. Pair that race with Niel, the other yawning-inducing race on the same weekend and it’s a recipe for the most boring weekend of the season. I had been dreading that weekend. I remembered those courses from the last season and I know that there was NOTHING interesting there.
So I was pretty happy to see the haul on Sunday. It was a good weekend with good photos. This photo was the last one before I made my mad dash for the finish line. This race was at the beginning of Sven Nys’ insane winning streak and I wanted to show somehow how dominant he was, that the others weren’t anywhere near him.
The other thing about Hamme-Zogge is that there is a middle section that the course zig-zags across many times and it is jam-packed with spectators and therefore it is a nightmare to get around. I wanted to show both things in one frame, hence the victorious Sven Nys, emerging from the sea of spectators.
This fantastic interview with Emily Maye started just after the Spring Classics and the AToC. For various reasons: 70% website changes, 35% Tour de France interruption, 10% USADA drama, and 89.2% procrastination—I’m finally publishing it. In the meantime, Emily’s exposure has blown up and she’s now charging for interviews. Luckily this was conducted well before the fees were introduced (joking).
Emily exemplifies what I’m looking for in a “5 Questions” photographer. Her ability to capture the essence and atmosphere of bike racing is astounding. Enjoy these 5 (or more) questions with Emily Maye.
I took this photo of Taylor Phinney at the start line for the 2012 Paris-Roubaix. It was still early and the riders had not fully filled in the start area and Phinney was by himself near sign in. He then moved to get in line where he is in the photograph, right by the first row of riders. He then pulled a pastry from his back pocket and ate it. He won the U23 Paris-Roubaix in 2009 and 2010 and this was his first attempt at Roubaix on the pro level. All of that factors into the photograph. The fans on the side, his isolation as a solitary figure and a bit of a sense of nervousness and expectation. I really liked all of that about the moment. It’s such a daunting race and the waiting to start has an uneasy mood to it. That’s part of its magic.