I’m posting this today because people have been asking. One of the most challenging but intriguing aspects of my current creative life is how to merge cycling and photography. Most of you know me via photography, which makes sense. I’ve spent my entire life, from 1988 through the present time involved in photography, at least to some degree.
The bulk of this time I worked full time as a photographer. There were interludes when I didn’t make my living by pressing the shutter. The four-year break for Kodak and the ongoing, ten-year break for Blurb. Oddly enough, I’ve made the bulk of my best work while NOT working full time as a photographer, which is an incredibly important point if you are thinking of throwing your hat in the professional ring.
During my “non-photography” interludes, I was still shooting, still doing occasional assignments but since the camera was not my primary means of survival I stopped calling myself a photographer. There is no way I will ever go back to being a photographer. It’s not that I couldn’t. I think I could but it would be incredibly difficult and would force me to do many things I do not want to do. And it would ensure my work would suffer.
Cycling feels like my future, but I would describe it as a very uncertain future at best. I envision myself as a polite, strategic activist. I want more butts on bikes and would like to find a way to make a living focusing on this idea. But I need to make images along the way. And the phone just isn’t cutting it. So, I’ve come to a quick solution I wanted to share. How do I ride and shoot?
I’ve decided to go the backpack route. My Cotopaxi Luzon Eighteen. Now, is this a photography backpack? No, not even close. This baby has ZERO padding and was never designed to be a camera bag. But, it weights NOTHING, and with the right insert will hold one body and two lenses. Inside the Luzon, I’m adding a waterproof bag liner, so no matter what New Mexico throws at me, I’m solid and I’m dry.
Yes, using a pack means I have to stop, take it off, open it up, retrieve the camera, etc. That’s okay. There will be times when I ride with the camera around my body, and there will be days when I spend hours working a location, scene, story or person.
There are WAY better photography bags. My Atlas Athlete comes to mind. This is the bag I use when hiking, doing remote photography projects, traveling or working from my truck. The Atlas is awesome and will last the rest of my life, but for cycling, it’s just too big.
What I like about using a pack is that my body takes the abuse, not the camera. I could use a handlebar bag but Jesus the gear takes such abuse while bouncing around in these bags. Road riders, this is a good option, however.
So, my plan is to use one XT2 body and both the 23mm and the 35mm. (35mm and 50mm equivalents) Now, there might be times when I use the 50-140mm as well but who knows where that baby is going to go. Helmet mount? I also have the 56mm 1.2 which is a solid portrait lens and very small.
My ultimate goal is to blend my documentary life with my cycling life. Not all the time, but when I get out on the bike I want to be able to make images that go beyond what I get with the phone.