Raewyn Morrison. Kataore trail.
February 24, 2015

I recently had the opportunity to photograph a world class field of elite athletes at a Gravity Enduro Mountain Bike race held in Rotorua’s Whakarewarewa forest. Nothing too remarkable there – I’ve been fortunate enough to work photography commissions at a few MTB World Championships and events around the world.

Justin Leov - DH World Champs

Justin Leov when he was racing Downhill – at the 2008 World Champs in Val di Sole, Italy. This photo made it to the cover of New Zealand Mountain Biker magazine. Still a fierce competitor, but now in the discipline of Enduro, it was great to catch up with Justin for a quick interview after the Giant 2W Gravity Enduro event.

What was different about this one is that the client required a ‘race report’ style written content the night of the event’s completion.
I’ve written plenty of editorial over the years, and recognise that I can seek out an angle to make stories both interesting and relevant to readers in the target market.
This commission had me a little nervous though. A race report? That is generally the antithesis of what editors and clients are looking for in an article. I’d have to reset my ingrained prejudice that race reports were boring and unworthy of publication to meet the requirements of this task.
It didn’t mean it had to be dry and boring though. I knew I’d have taken the action photos to back up whatever I wrote, so that was a good prompt to think hard about what I was trying to achieve.

It was as dark as in the depth of the native bush (which the client specifically noted was required in his photography brief). Remote flashes and a lot of leg-work to find a spot with reasonable ambient light meant I was able to get some great action shots. Racers that wore bright coloured gear certainly helped too!

The overcast light of impending rain clouds and the dense forest canopy in the depth of the native bush made for a dark scene to shoot in. Remote flashes and a lot of leg-work to find a spot with reasonable ambient light resulted in some solid action shots. Racers like Australia’s Kath Bicknell who wore bright coloured gear certainly helped too!

My cunning plan was to interview the high profile athletes after the race. That would surely provide some interesting sound-bites.
In practice, although it was sometimes a little awkward to interrupt these high profile athletes and drag them aside for an interview, it went to plan. As you’d expect, they were all helpful and patient while we talked about their day’s racing. Keeping in mind that some of them hadn’t had perfect days, there can only be one winner after all, and people of this calibre are driven to be that winner so coming second or third is not their ideal.
After gathering the raw material of the interviews it was back to the office and into the writing. The great thing about getting lots of content is that it can be culled down to really punchy, meaningful text.
On completion, after the client’s sign off it was time to push the content out. I utilised a few channels I had from previous projects and the content ended up running on Flowmountainbike.com, Spokemagazine.com and Australian Mountain Bike Magazine‘s websites.

Flow, AMB and Spoke picked up the race report and photos immediately. Having current Enduro World Champ (and Aussie) Jared Graves at the race garnered a lot of interest.

Flow, AMB and Spoke picked up the race report and photos immediately. Having current Enduro World Champ (and Aussie) Jared Graves at the race garnered a lot of interest.

End result – a client happy with the service provided and resultant media exposure. Sometimes it’s nice to challenge myself with projects that are outside the usual scope of what I do, and they definitely make me a better creative professional in the long term.