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“That’s the im­age you chose for the Photo

An­nual? I could have shot that with my iPhone.” That state­ment got me heated, but also made me think: Of course you could have, but so what? Noth­ing about that mo­ment would have changed. That frac­tion of a se­cond frozen in time still would have spo­ken to me re­gard­less of the tool used to cap­ture it. That’s what makes a pho­tog­ra­pher a pho­tog­ra­pher.

It’s no longer—nor has it ever re­ally been—about the tech­nol­ogy. The long lens, the fast frame rate or the even all the lat­est Light­room tricks don’t mean you’ll cap­ture a mo­ment that will speak to the au­di­ence. It’s about be­ing there, be­ing present and rec­og­niz­ing that those mo­ments are spe­cial and will tell our story as moun­tain bik­ers. No mat­ter how mun­dane, or unim­por­tant, they might seem.

As the tech­no­log­i­cal bar­rier to en­try for pho­tog­ra­phy be­comes nonex­is­tent, the abil­ity to rec­og­nize and doc­u­ment those mo­ments will be what sep­a­rates pho­tog­ra­phers from peo­ple with cam­eras. The

pho­tog­ra­pher will be fear­less and un­in­hib­ited in his or her quest to doc­u­ment those mo­ments, and those im­ages will speak to peo­ple in a way that is pro­found and mean­ing­ful.

The pho­tog­ra­pher will be the one com­pelled to shoot when it’s too cold, or he or she is too tired, or per­haps even when the sit­u­a­tion seems so un­cer­tain that the only sense of com­fort is a cam­era in hand. The

pho­tog­ra­pher will rec­og­nize that the goal isn’t al­ways to show the au­di­ence what it looks like, but rather show them how it feels. And it will never be about the tool they use to ac­com­plish that. It will al­ways be—and al­ways has been—about the sub­stance of the im­age.

From sun­baked peaks, to dark, dank forests, the col­lec­tion of pho­tos in this year’s

Photo An­nual at­tempts to stir up emo­tions that in­spire us as moun­tain bik­ers. From the as­pi­ra­tional mo­ments in per­fect light on pris­tine trails, to dif­fi­cult mo­ments that make those ex­pe­ri­ences on a bike, for bet­ter or worse, un­for­get­table.

These are all mo­ments—the highs and the lows—that each one of us has ex­pe­ri­enced as riders. But it is the pho­tog­ra­pher who cap­tures these mo­ments. From the mun­dane to the un­for­get­table, and those im­ages—like the ones con­tained within the fol­low­ing pages—will con­tinue to make us cu­ri­ous, mo­ti­vated and in­spired to get out and ride.

BY AN­THONY SMITH I PHOTO: RYAN CREARY

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