This year has been sparse for me cyclocross-wise. While I miss it almost every weekend, I am also grateful that I have a job that allows me to do what I love, which is travel and shoot photos. For the better part of the last few years, I chased a dream to make my camera my job. I thought if I just kept my head down, kept clicking away trying to get better with each shutter actuation that maybe someday the work would come.
The work did come, and it came in the form of a full-time gig for Dirt Rag Magazine. I tricked them just enough to let them think I knew what I was doing and here we are over a year later. I have been able to ride mountain bikes in bucket list locations, shoot photos that end up in print on a regular basis, and get to meet a bunch of amazing people. I honestly have a dream job, but I would be lying when September rolled around this year that I wasn’t having a severe case of FOMO.
Cyclocross will always have a special place in my heart, and when the opportunity arises to sneak off to one of the more significant events throughout the season, I try not to pass it up. With Nationals a short 6-hour drive away this year and my pal Popple looking to race the Single Speed race on Saturday I had the perfect excuse to head down.
Shooting Nationals is a unique and challenging event. The USAC officials are on high alert, there are people everywhere, and getting around the course to find interesting angles can be a challenge. Even if and when you do find ‘the shot’ all of the best photographers are also roaming and looking, and if you see it there’s a good chance someone else has seen it and likely did it better. For me, that’s part of the fun of shooting a big race, trying to see if I can capture something interesting that maybe others missed.
Covering an event like Nationals without any particular assignment leaves a lot of freedom to shoot exactly what I want without being concerned with specific riders and shot counts. I inherently gravitate towards the mayhem at the finishing line.
It was a few years back at DCCX that I snapped a photo of Cameron Dodge (the cyclocross ninja), and something clicked in my brain. I may never be a great street photographer, but at the end of a cyclocross race, I can grab these brutally honest moments, where riders are in a bubble of exhaustion and elation and often don’t register the person with the camera 3 feet from their face.
Trying to land somewhere in between Diane Arbus and Kristoff Ramon, I feel like there’s a delicate balance between documentation and exploitation, between contrived and genuine.
I hope that you all enjoy some of these portraits from last weekend’s race and I hope to see you all along the tape in the not so distant future.