Our Through the Lens journey continues as we strive to showcase some of the best images in the world of cycling. Every Thursday we interview a different photographer and take a look at some of their favourite shots. In previous weeks we've showcased work from photographers such as Kurt de Freitas, Daniel Roos, Justin Kosman and Brad Holmes.
This week we have a German photographer who goes by the name of Jens Staudt. Jens had a whirlwind 2012 with a ranking in the top 5 of the German Best Photographer of the Year Competition and coming second in Pinkbike's Photo of the Year Contest. Without futher ado let's meet the man behind the lens.
Who/what are your main influences?
Snowboard-photographers are always a little ahead of time I think. I want to experiment with some methods they are using, refine them to my style and bring them to mountainbiking. It is important to keep moving and try new stuff, otherwise you lose interest and your pictures get boring.
Do you have a particular favourite photo you’ve taken and why?
Thinking of 2012 it would be Brendan Fairclough over my head at the whip of worlds (As seen above). I was really looking forward to shoot this event, after seeing the amazing videos from 2011. The most photographers stood on the last jump after the one they throw their biggest whips over and shot with long lenses up the hill. I also did this kind of shots, but I wanted to show more of the intense atmosphere within the crowd, surrounding and covering the 40" jump while going nuts. So I switched to a wide angle lens and put myself in between the fans of the front row. The riders were all backlit and I placed two flashes on tripods within the crowd to light up the front of the riders. One flash got damaged because it had been tipped over… but it was worth it. I was hoping to capture Brendog because of his unique style and he only passed once, while I sat in this position and I only got one chance to get it right. You had to be very close to have the rider big enough in your composition, but also you don't wan't to get hit by his back-wheel. On the other hand, you have to lean far out because you don't wan't a fan waving his hand in front of your lens while you push the trigger. Now looking at the picture, you can find so much details like the helicopter in the back, all the fans, the pole-camera-guy… A good image catches your attention, invites you to explore the details and tells you a story about what had been going on at the event. Also on Pinkbike.com this shot got second place in the "SRAM Photo of the year Contest" which I'm very happy with.
What's the most challenging location you've ever shot in?
Events in particular are pretty tough. On a downhill race the riders will only give 100% on their race run. On raceday you could rarely change your position without running the risk of missing one of the big names (especially if you work with external lights and have to drag them all over the place). Secondly you can't tell the line they will take over a section which makes the composition a little bit of sketchy. Red Bull Joyride in particular was quite challenging. They only gave out a couple of photo-vests for the inner area (I only had the regular photopass) and with different lines to choose for the riders you never knew were the next big thing is going to happen.
Technique or tools – what's the most invaluable?
You can have great results even with the camera in your mobile phone. The most important thing is and will always be the light on the location and your overall composition. Of course – as a photographer you have to know your tools to catch it in the right way. Unfortunately a lot of people still think having the latest and greatest camera will do it by itself. I think a good chef isn't defined by his pans and pots… Having an eye for scenery and a vision of the picture within your head before the shoot is the most important thing.
Any locations or riders you would particularly like to work with in the future?
You don't have to travel a lot to get good locations. With a creative eye you even can find amazing places around your home. Sometimes you only have to use a new angle to show something completely different way. Working with a pro is always nice, because you can be sure they go big, fast and do tricks super extended. For example: This year I had the opportunity to do a short "How to scrub/whip" with Ben Reid and Mick Hannah on Whistler's A-Line. After I was already happy with the shot and told Ben we had it in the box, he took a look on the image, smiled and said he could do it even more sideways, walked up the track again and we got an even better shot. Saying that, I'm getting the most exited when I have a rider who is willing to give their very best and pushes himself and me to the very best. So I also could be very happy working with an "unknown local" if he hits the trail hard and smashes a berm. If I had to name a rider I guess Chris Kovarik would be the one I choose.
Thoughts on Instagram – Good or bad?
Good. It's some kind of different storytelling. Maybe an equivalent of Twitter in pixels. I like the fact you can follow your friends and share if you have a good time with one click. No bothering around with the download of images from your camera and having a laptop to edit… Unfortunately Instagram did this big sell-your-pictures-thing which I think was a little forced onto the community…
If you weren't a photographer, what would you want to be and why?
Back in 1998 I started my work as a graphic-guy and then studied design with my main focus on graphics and typography. I still work in this area (www.4zig.net) and am pretty happy with it. 🙂
What's the one bit of advice you'd give to budding young photographers?
Completely understand the relations between, ISO, time and aperture and what you can influence while changing one of them. Be patient to wait for the right light. Don't hesitate to fail while trying something new. But mostly – keep practising!
Is there anyone you would like to give a shout out to?
I would like to thank my team from 4zig.net always supporting me, the whole Bruchpilot-guys and all my clients, especially Thomas from the biggest German Mountainbike News-Site MTB-News.de for giving me the opportunity to travel to all the different places to shot photos and the riders for going fast and sideways!
Ben Reid with styles for miles over Whistler's A-Line.
Danny Hart always goes sideways if you are willing to scout loud enough out of your shooting-position (Sea Otter Classic Downhill).
Danny Hart in an early training session at the 2011 Sea Otter Classic Downhill. Thanks again to the guys in the background for partying.
Dean Tennant goes over the famous Heckler-Rock at the Canadian Open. You can't imagine how hard the fans are celebrating over there!Jordie after winning the 4.000 CAD with his best trick.Self portrait.Jordie Lunn's winning trick at the Crankworx Teva Best Trick Contest.Shot with a taped together PowerShot 540. Underexposed into back lighting on our team-winter-ride on 24th December.The Sea Otter Classic Downhill is the first event of the year I had to shoot in the last couple of years and you always have good results there. The Unite Ride Team stopped by in the small German bikepark Albstadt and we had a very good time shooting on and besides the track.Yannick Granieri shows some serious balls at Red Bull Joyride over the 60 foot sender.
A big thank you to Jens for answering our questions and providing us with his favourite images. 2013 looks set to be another great year for him. If you want to see more of Jen's work check otu the following links: