Category Archives: Interview

Chasing Light with Vince Perraud

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Interview and editorial photos by Chris Mortenson. All other photos credited to Vince Perraud.

I’ve been a fan of Vince’s work for quite sometime now. His photographs are more than just pictures of people doing tricks. He is capturing the culture that surrounds BMX in one of the purest ways I’ve seen in. Be it using natural light or throwing a small strobe in the mix, his photographs capture what it feels like to be out riding with your friends and enjoying all the adventures that riding bikes can bring. When I found out that he was coming through Los Angeles for the Couch Riding trip I set up a time to link up on a roof in Hollywood and watch him make some pictures with flatlander Matthias Dandois. After hanging out with Vince I can say he is one of the most humblest of people I’ve met and I can’t wait to see what he creates in the future.

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For the people who might not know you, can you please just give a little introduction?

Yo What’s up! I’m Vince Perraud I come from France and I take picture for something like 9 years now, a bunch of BMX… and I never meet up Jean De Crepe aha.
 
You have a pretty big collection of cameras in your bag, could you talk a little bit about this and how you came to have such diversity?

Ah yes I have a bunch of cameras because all of them have a specificity and it’s fun to use!! OK I have to admit all of them are half fucked so I need all of this to shoot! It depends on what subject I’m shooting. It’s just cool to vary from fucking digital.

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What is your favorite camera to shoot with and why?

Depends on the mood but I would say the good old Bronica SQ! It’s medium format so the 120 film gives a good result, nice depth of field and you can synch at 1/500…and it’s cheap too!!

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When out shooting do you have any special process you go through while making images, or do you let things happen organically?

I would say improvisation but now I try to work on it, like check the location, best time to shoot with the good light etc…
 
Do you find inspiration in photography outside of BMX, and if so, do you find it easy to adapt that inspiration into BMX photography?

Yeah I try to check all sort of photography, like music, architecture, fashion… and mix it because to make nice pics for any subject you have to work on the composition, light etc… But bmx is really free and there are so many aspects to the culture, I don’t necessarily think about it, but bmx (same as skate) photography is really creative!!
 
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I’ve noticed in your newer work, you are shooting with a lot of natural light vs. strobes. Can you just talk a little bit about the shift and how it has affected your shooting style.

Ah yeah I shoot more natural cause my flashes are fucked!! You have to make choices also when you travel by plane, it’s really annoying to be limited on stuff you can bring with you overseas, so recently I was less into flashes and I tried to work more with ambient… and it takes less time to set up so you don’t piss of the riders. You ready already! It’s better for lifestyle too!

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Who are some of your favorite photographers outside of BMX?

I have a bunch of various inspiration but the ones that are always sick are: Foster Huntington, Scott Pommier, Chris Burkard, Kenneth Cappello, Brian Gabermann, Eric Antoine, Michel Sedan, Jérôme Tanon, Kristina Fender, Fred Mortagne, Mike Piscitelli… in no particular order.. My favorite at the moment is Purienne.
 
Do you have any personal projects you are working on?

Good question! I would say going to vacation with my girl…
 
Do you think it is necessary to study photography to understand how to create good images?

Hum not sure, most of the dudes I know never study photo… but it’s a good advantage to know the sport well when you snap bikes for example…
 
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How do you think the ease of image sharing has effected photography within BMX?

I don’t know, everything is going faster and faster. It can bring more ideas or creativity but I feel like it’s too much nowadays…too much shit and the good stuff are flooded in middle of crap… it’s also harder to stand out…
 
When was it that you felt like you really hit your stride and found your vision as a photographer?

I’m still searching ahah.

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Do you have any advice for the up and coming shooters of the world?

Go out with you friends and snap instead of chilling in front of the laptop! 😉

Photography below by Vince Perraud.

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Through The Lens: Inside BMX Media

I’m not really sure who the intended audience of this mini “documentary” actually is, but it gives you a little behind the scenes look at what its like to be a BMX photographer/filmer. Despite being severely cringeworthy at several points, there are a few bits of good information sprinkled throughout. If you’re an aspiring lensman, check out the video and read below for a little friendly advice of my own.

I’ve only been in the game for a few years now and some could make the argument that I’m no more qualified to offer advice on this subject than the people in this video, but I couldn’t just have you guys ingesting a bunch of vague pointers. In my years of paying dues and finally getting my foot and my camera bag in the door of the BMX industry, this is the best advice I could give you if you’re looking to do the same.

-Do it for the right reasons.
I feel like I read this in every interview with any BMX photographer ever, but if you’re trying to make a million dollars from shooting/filming BMX, go to the nearest pawn shop and sell all your shit because its not going to happen. Shooting BMX should be, above all else, a labor of love. You should love this shit so much to begin with that getting paid for it shouldn’t matter until you can do what you do with one arm tied behind your back and security breathing down your neck. If you get no genuine thrill from pedaling miles on end while lugging a 50lb camera bag, you’re in the wrong business, friend.

-Know your craft.
This goes beyond reading your camera’s manual cover to cover and knowing what every function does. This is about shooting so many photos or filming so many clips that you can see what its going to look like before you even pull the camera out. This is about closing the gap between what your photos/footage looks like and what you want your stuff to look like. Not by going out and buying a bunch of expensive gear, but by knowing how to squeeze every ounce of capability out of the tools and the light you’re given. Some of the best advice I’ve ever come across is, don’t practice til you get it right, practice til you can’t get it wrong.

-Its not about gear.
As much as you think having a VX1k, 1Dx and Einsteins or a Panasonic with the whale eye will miraculously make your shit look like Jeff Z or Navaz’s, you’re sadly mistaken. Unless you’ve got tens of thousands of dollars to run through B&H like Supermarket Sweep, you should be more worried about doing what you can with what you have instead of worrying about what you could do with what you don’t. Always try to keep in mind that there’s someone out there doing better with less.

-Be your own worst critic, not your number one fan.
No one likes a dude who’s feeling himself to the max. And its even worse when their photos/filming aren’t quite up to par. If you somehow think you’ve arrived or are more worried about your Instagram followers than continually improving the quality of your work, you’re doing yourself a huge disservice and you probably look like a douchebag. Don’t buy into your friends telling you you’re the shit, you gotta see the things that you could’ve done better. Its easy to let a hundred likes go to your head, but if you think that shit matters in real life, I honestly feel bad for you.

-Network, network, network.
Social media has made it easier than ever to meet and communicate with riders from your town all the way up to your favorite pros. In most industries, networking is a bunch of shaking hands and trading business cards, but in BMX it can be anything as simple as saying “whats up, let’s shoot sometime” on Instagram to just sharing a blunt at the skatepark. But be cautious of your hunger level when it comes to stuff like this though, most people can spot a weirdo from a mile away. Which brings us to our next topic…

-Don’t be a weirdo.
In the modern BMX climate, you might be surprised how far being a normal, level-headed person could take you. You could shoot the best photos ever, film the crispiest clips, but if you’re a pain in the ass, next to no one is going to want to deal with you. Don’t be the guy poaching photos/clips of people you don’t know at the skatepark. Don’t be the guy bugging your one and only local pro to shoot on every social network every day. Just try not to be “that guy”.

-Do good work and things will happen.
Same as when it comes to riding, the longer you’re out there doing you and making it look good, people will eventually notice. There’s no better feeling than being the go-to guy for riders or companies, but the only way to get there is to be consistently dialed and reliable. As soon as you start wondering why you’re not getting the recognition you deserve or why people aren’t fucking with you, your mind is in the wrong place and you should stop and re-evaluate why you’re doing what you’re doing. You shouldn’t have to speak for your work, your work should speak for you.

“The Michigan Video” Interview

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Titling a video with such an all-encompassing name like “The Michigan Video” is a pretty daring move, and I was unsure of what to think. To me, the name suggests that it is the sole video to come out of The Mitten State and therefore had some pretty big shoes to fill.

Although the intro sequence initially caught me off guard (even going so far as to making sure I had started the video from the beginning) after watching it a second time, it made sense. Cory Wiergowski is not a new name on the scene by any means, but his opening part definitely cemented his name as one of the burlier riders of our day. His second-to-last clip was all at once completely unexpected, mind-blowing and definitely something that is NBD to my eyes. His last clip is just ridiculous. Connor Keating comes through with some of the crazier crank arm grinds to date (super smoothly too, I might add). Up-and-comer Mikey Tyra (whose section went online not long after the release of the video) made quite a name for himself, with his first line as one of the cleanest I’ve ever seen. Tyler Fernengel, another one who needs no introduction, completely destroyed every gap and rail in sight, and just as the smoke cleared and I thought the video was over, Nick Bullen came out of left field, screaming loudly “NOPE! THIS AIN’T OVER!”. There’s a good reason that he just got put on Subrosa pro and his ender section proves it.

When it was all said and done, I felt like the name was justified and after talking a bit with Cory and Alex Burnside (filmer/editor) about the creation, it was apparent that they really had no other choice.

Where in Michigan is everyone from?

Cory: Every person in the video that has a full part claims Detroit but a few guys are from neighboring cities like Dearborn, Taylor and the Bullen brothers are from Lapeer.

Did all you guys grow up riding together?

Cory: Nick and I grew up riding together because we’re from northern michigan. Than we both moved down to Detroit area and met everyone down there about 5 years ago. Everyone else grew up together though like all the young dudes Connor, Mikey, Tyler, burnside etc. Than when they started to all grow up we kind of all became homies just from all of us riding transitions skatepark together on a daily basis. It’s crazy to see all of them grown up and killing it. I swear, it feels like just the other day I was giving Tyler pointers on tail whips now he’s like the best rider ever.

Alex: I grew up riding and filming with Connor Keating, but didn’t meet anyone else in the crew until maybe 3 years ago when I made indoor park videos at TRP. That was my first work with Cory, Nick, Govan, dudes like that.

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“The Michigan Video” is a pretty bold name- Did you include riders/crews from all around the state?

Cory: Every weekend I’d just send a mass text message to the normal crew asking if they wanted to go to X city for the weekend and tell them how much it’ll cost each. Whoever replied saying they were down would be at my house Friday morning and we’d go. Just stay in cheap hotels and film good times every weekend all over the state of michigan hence the name “the Michigan video”. It was supposed to be more focused on the spots around michigan and film the dudes from the area riding them. Southeast michigan is easily the epicenter of the bmx scene here. There’s still a little scene in Lansing including Luke Swab, Brian Block and a bunch of other little shredders coming up. The Grand Rapids crew kind of fell apart but the dudes I link up with there are Alex Burgnon and Jordan Youngs, those dudes are rad. The west side of michigan holds it down with dudes like Tyler Ellis, Pat Ellis, Chance Garrison, Alex Elko, Kyle Line and the rest of the holland crew. They’ll usually travel together, they’re the only other “true crew” in michigan right now other than our crew that has been kind of dubbed the ” tmv crew” as of late. There was a good scene in traverse city, MI with Steven Ramos, Domke, Marcus, Mikey and a bunch of others but it kind if fell apart after there indoor park closed. As for not including people in the video, Alex and I would film everyone and anyone willing to ride in front of our lens.

How long did you film for? Were there any major setbacks/injuries?

Cory: We ended up filming for about 7 months we set out to get it done in one year because we didn’t really want to just sit on footage for a whole winter in order to film for 2 years. We def sat down a few months and all talked about filming for 2 years but we didn’t all want to stay in michigan as much this year and we had enough footage at the end of the year to make it happen, everyone killed it. There were only a couple set backs during filming, Tyler broke his foot trying that half cab in his intro. Which put him out for about 3 months. That was the only real injury the whole year other than rolled ankles and Nick got knocked out trying this big kinked rail in suttens bay. The last month or so of filming we only had one camera because one of our dvx’s broke and we didn’t care to get it fixed but even that wasn’t really a set back. We got lucky, everything kind of fell into place.

Was every single clip filmed in Michigan?

Cory: Yes.

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What was the inspiration for the intro?

Alex: The inspiration for the intro actually came from Cory. We were sitting in my room one night trying to find a good song for the intro and he must have had an epiphany because it’s one of my favorite parts of the whole video. I really wanted to break some stereotypes people had for the video and we felt like a raw intro would fit well with our theme and also break the mold for what a ‘normal’ intro usually is.

Is there any one outstanding story behind a certain clip?

Cory: So many stories that I don’t know where to start. When we went on a trip to the upper peninsula for a week, I had prior knowledge of this reservoir spot that my friend Scott Wanhala took Tony Neyer to last year to shoot that primo advert. So while we were in Marquette (about 9 hours from Detroit) Scott hit me with a google earth location, little did we know the spot was at a federal water reservoir about 45 min deep into the woods with a mile long hike after you’re there. I don’t know I’ve never been to a spot with an adventure like that. It’s so rewarding in the end. There were multiple 2 or 3 hour trips we took just to film one trick on a certain set up. We drove to suttens bay about 5 hours north of Detroit to check out this big kinked rail that Nick wanted to check out that ended up knocking him out, that was the scariest thing ever to witness your friend lifeless at the bottom of a rail without a hospital in site.

What gear did you use?

Alex: We were pretty strict on filming and which cameras were used, we wanted to keep a similar feel and style throughout the entire video. We relied on two DVX100B’s for the entire course of filming. We fell in love with them, they’re built like tanks and have an awesome fisheye option. We used an Opteka fisheye rather than a Century mkII because of the cost and ease of replacement for inevitable lens hits.

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How long did the video take to edit?

Alex: Editing only took about 2 months miraculously. I started editing early November and finished on December 22nd. We had to get the master copy out to our chosen distributor by the 23rd in order to have our copies ready by the 11th of January for the video premiere at TRP. We got the copies the day before the premiere, it was way too stressful.

What’s the deal with Nick Bullen’s last clip? It’s definitely a novel idea.

Alex: It was super windy that day and we all knew it needed to get done then as bad weather and winter were closing in on us. Nick grinded the rail a few times to get loosened up, then tried to get mentally ready for the clip. He went down the rail a few times feeling out the first part, then finally stuck one right off the end of the rail, couldn’t have been more perfect. Everyone tripped out and he ran back up the stairs, got lined up for the banger and a huge gust of wind hit him about 15 feet before the ledge. He was so mad and everyone was bummed. We were going to just take the rail trick and call it, but I pushed the issue a little farther and convinced him that the double banger would be so worth it in the end, and that I’d make it worth his effort. Once he got back up and pulled the clip seamless, I knew who would get the ender section. Nick is the dude and put in so much work and he totally deserved it.

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Are you guys planning on making another video?

Alex: As of right now, we have no plans for another project as big as The Michigan Video. It was a miracle things came together as well as they did this year and I know that won’t be able to happen in the near future. Too many dudes in the crew have plans to move or get jobs or do things outside bmx so it’s hard to commit to a big project. But we’ll be filming, that’s for certain. The world will just have to wait and see what we come up with.

How did the “Project After Hours” video come about?

Alex: The After Hours video was super fun to make. Basically, Cory does some work for Ron Thomas, who owns the shop we filmed in. Ron has been working on some really cool projects based around his Xtreme Builders business and his work with AGA Nation and Rise Above BMX. Hopefully you’ll be able to see more of his work soon, I can assure you it’s pretty cool. So Ron was down to support us with the space and time to film a video. Putting Ron’s support together with Cory’s welding ability, we were able to get the project done in a few short weeks.

The Michigan video is available here for just ten bucks and I highly suggest you buy it. It’s still early in the year but I guarantee this one will make lists for 2014.

Troy Charlesworth Interview

Troy talks with Focalpoint about the creation of his new DVD “That’s What’s Up” which I luckily saw over the weekend and FUCK it is great. Full review to come.

“Not Just For Calling” | The Hadrien Picard Interview

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Photos by Hadrien Picard interview by Chris Mortenson

Hadrien Picard seems to be able to do it all. Transitioning between the role of photographer and videographer is no easy task, however he seems to do it effortlessly and beautifully. Recently he has been pushing the limits of filming by shooting all his films on Nokia Lumia phone. Filming things on a phone is not a new concept, but with camer/phone technology getting better and better they are starting to turn into a necessity for any filmer/photographers bag. I caught up with Hadrien to find out more about his filming process and what he thinks about this new territory camera phones.

Can you give us a small introduction about yourself?

I am Hadrien Picard. I’m 31 and live around Paris. I’ve been riding for 20 years but I’m still terrible on a bike. I’ve been shooting photos for 16 years & thank god I’m a little less terrible at that. I’ve started to film around 7-8 years ago. I never thought I’d say this but I have the chance to be a pro photographer and filmer.

How did you make the transition from photographer to videographer?

For me, video has always seemed like a close cousin of photography. It has always interested me.
I’m not sayin I did everything in photo, very far from that, every day I realize that, but it was less a challenge for me at that time. I had a DV camera for a couple of years but something changed when video mode start to be included in DSLR. I was totally amazed by the quality and; the feel of the images from the 1st DSLRs that could film like the D90 & 5DMKII. So I bought a 7d and started to play with it. I did a couple of vids here and there, then I won the Nike StandBy Barcelona which helped me to look like a « legit » filmer haha.

I still and; will always shoot photos. It’s honestly cool to do both, it’s hard but it’s really rewarding for yourself to think you have done both. Video is a lot more work than photo, so I’m really happy when I can shoot photos ONLY.

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What’s your current filming set up like?

I still have my lovely JVC HM100 but the majority of clips I film are with a Nikon D800 and; a Sony FS700 that maybe, besides my flat, is the most expensive thing I have ever bought. I’m pretty happy with it!

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How did you start filming with the Nokia camera/phone?

They contacted me because they were looking for someone who was good in photo and; video in our sports.

Nokia used to be involved in BMX years ago so they knew BMX, skate and; snowboard are really photogenic/videogenic. They wanted people to shoot with their Lumias to show their cameras capabilities. I think they also like the spirit of BMX, skate and; snowboard. We met in the end of 2012 and; we talked about what we can do and Nokia Pureviews, and a creative community based around shooting with their Lumia lines, was born.

What are some of the challenges with filming on a phone? and did you have any hesitation putting down a video camera for a camera phone?

Those things are really light, which is good for your back, but I also thought that it can be a problem for stability. You have to pay attention to even small shakings but it’s actually less than I thought. There is an optical stabilisator inside that does great job.

Obviously a smartphone is and; will never be a DSLR : the sensor is small (even if the 1020 has a pretty big one) and; you can’t change lens. Some actually can but what’s the use having a smartphone that is big like DSLR at the end?

For sure it’s not a FS700 but overall I think the images look pretty damn good. Some riders were a little stressed to send it in front of a smartphone but when they saw the images they were confident about the result.

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Your films are all very well done. How much does editing and post come into play? and could you give a little insight into your editing process?

Thanks!

I think editing is at least as important as filming. Photography is very exigent at the moment : a photo is good or bad. Period. But you can actually make a good video from not so good clips. The real difficulty of filming compared to shooting photos is that, even if it’s at the minimal scale, it’s not a movie, you have to think a little to what kind of shots you need if you want to make an intro, show something particular etc…

A photo could be great by its own but a video is an addition of a lot of clips so you have to think a little before & after about how organising it!

Music is also a third of the clip. It’s super important. It’s funny how I’m not a specialist in music but I really like to follow the most I can so the clip at the end is a perfect mix between sound and image.

I didn’t do any film/photo class so my editing process may not be the best! I don’t rename anything, I drag and drop all the clips I have in the time line and; from there cut and; select them and then bit by bit make the edit.

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With camera and phone technology getting better every year, how do you think this is going to change the way we make films?

It has already changed a lot of things! Thanks to DSLR we can achieve a look that was impossible before. Things will become more and more close to perfection and; cheaper and; cheaper. But at the end, even with a Red Epic, if you suck you suck. It will never change that.

Smartphone speaking, they have 3 huge strenghs that may cause some big trouble to camera manufacturers: The image they make is getting better and; better and; can be usable for a lot of projects. Another strengh of the smartphone is that you carry it EVERYWHERE. It does so many thing it’s obvisouly already in your pocket, so you can shoot very fast whatever happen in front of you. « The best camera is the on you have » Remember. And finally phones are connected. Really important for geeks like us haha. But it’s true that more and more cameras can be connected. I bought a small panasonic that’s so smart it can send the photos to a phone via a wifi networks it creates. Crazy!

Do you have any other big projects coming out this year?

I have some really, really good stuff coming this year with Nokia…

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Do you have any advice for future filmers out there?

Go out and shoot! Don’t wait, don’t be shy. If you want to learn, it’s 1000 times easier now that before thanks to digital and internet. Look around you to understand how things works but always remember not to copy/paste what is fashion today. Create your own style.

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We Are Orange Juice – Anthony DeRosa Interview

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I sat down with Anthony for an interview which you can see over on We Are Orange Juice. If you are unfamiliar with him or need a quick refresh give his most recent edit a watch then click here to learn a little more about him.

Daniel Benson | The Diggest

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Photographer Daniel Benson has a photo gallery and interview up on The Diggest. I grew up looking at Benson’s BMX work in all the UK magazines so it was refreshing to see some of his work outside of BMX as well. Check it out here.