Through the Lens is a series of blogs that aims 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 Daniel Roos and Justin Kosman.
This week we have Canadian photographer Kurt de Freitas. Based in Calgary, Alberta, Kurt grew up riding and exploring the Canadian Rockies. Having started out in commercial photography and portraiture, eventually his love for mountain biking spilled into his passion for photos and he turned his lens in a different direction. Since then Kurt's been trying to depict the beauty of the mountain bike culture to the rest of the world through the medium of photography. We caught up with Kurt to find out about the man behind the lens.
Who/what are your main influences?
There are definitely some amazing photographers around that have influenced me over the years; Jordan Manley, Blake Jorgensen, Dan Barham and Reuben Krabbe come to mind. I am blessed with being surrounded by so many high calibre photos day after day and it has really pushed me to build and improve my own style.
Do you have a particular favourite photo you’ve taken and why?
It kind of changes every day, but if I had to choose it would be the picture of Brandon Dixon riding an Exshaw rock face (see below). This rock face was man made from blasting a highway, but was still able to give off a big mountain kind of feel and ended up giving us a really great shot. I have always imagined myself riding alongside of the highway when I’m sitting in the car on road trips; it was really fun to actually get to do that.
What's the most challenging location you've ever shot in?
Easily one of the most challenging shoots I have experienced was with Cyclemob in Drumheller, AB. It’s a small valley near Calgary that has no plant life and absolutely no grip in the wet. Everything but the snow is brown, including the streams and ponds. And the only piece of foreground I could find was a dead, palm-sized bush. After four hours in the valley, going camera first into more than one mud puddle, getting chased off location by an angry rancher and not having enough grip to even stand up straight, I ended up with four shots.
Technique or tools – what's the most invaluable?
One of my favourites is something Reuben Krabbe taught me; ”when in doubt, climb a tree”. That has come in handy more than once. Also, remembering to bring memory cards for my camera is definitely a technique that has eluded me over the years and that I plan on mastering next summer.
Any locations or riders you would particularly like to work with in the future?
I really would like to take some bikes and go explore Scandinavia. It has endless amounts of the most beautiful and epic terrain. As for riders, I would love to work with someone like Graham Agassiz. I have always been a fan of his style.
Thoughts on Instagram – Good or bad?
I love it, it’s a nice casual way to take random photos and share them with your friends. Some photographers have switched to “iPhoneography” all together. Personally I’ll save Instagram for phone pictures of lunches and cats.
If you weren't a photographer, what would you want to be and why?
If I drove Formula One cars for a living, I wouldn’t be mad about it.
What's the one bit of advice you'd give to budding young photographers?
There is a lot of great gear out there, and although it is nice to have, it is not a requirement to capture a great photo. Some of my best shots have been taken with entry level SLRs. Don’t let the gear you have limit you.
A big thank you to Kurt for answering our questions and submitting his favourite photos. We look forward to seeing his future work.
Any favourites? Let us know in the comments section below.
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