Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Risk vs. Reward

The cover of the new Dig BMX Magazine is the best BMX magazine cover I've seen in a while. Possibly ever. The photo is technically amazing; it's lit well with a careful, thought out composition. Ben Hucke, the rider on the cover, is a fresh face that's never been seen on a cover. Oh, and he's doing a can-can handplant on a tyrannosaurus.

What's even more impressive is the process that went into shooting this photo. Jared wrote up an article describing the time and effort it took on his blog that's definitely worth a read. Bookmark Jared's blog while you're at it; there's plenty of good content there on a regular basis.

If you've shot photos like this before, then you understand the dangers involved. If it's not a routine trick(and the best photos usually aren't), then there is a risk for both the rider and the photographer. The rider is trying something dangerous over and over again(over 350 times in the case of the Souney/Hucke cover!) and you're shooting photo after photo trying to perfectly capture a trick that most likely will never be done again. The rider doesn't want to risk getting hurt without walking away with the accomplishment of both the trick and the photo to prove it. If you, as the photographer, lose sight of your vision after the 50th try then the final photo will show it. You need to shoot the 63rd photo with the same anticipation, attention to detail and enthusiasm that you had when you shot the 2nd photo.

Every person that's held a camera has blown a photo. Every BMX/skate/action sports photographer has shot a photo of a rider and screwed up the timing or framing. I can't tell you how many times I've been laying on the ground after shooting a dozen photos and then when the rider sticks what he was trying, I look down to see that my composition is way off. There are few feelings worse than having an incredibly excited rider come up to you after pulling a difficult or dangerous trick and having to show him the photo you just botched. Instant deflation. We can't all fire out perfect photos every time, but if you don't lose sight of your vision you had when you set up your first light then you can drastically reduce the percentage of disappointing encounters that you have with the riders that you photograph.


  1. Thanks for that one... you expressed the part about shooting the 63rd photo as good as the second one better than I did I think...

    At some point you say to yourself, "okay, if I miss this he's going to want to kick my ass." In fact, one time I was shooting John Heaton and Jay Miron actually said "If you miss this I'm kicking your ass." hah.

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