There could only be one pho­tog­ra­pher to earn the ti­tle of AMB Pho­tog­ra­pher of the Year. Con­grat­u­la­tions Nathan Hughes.

Australian Mountain Bike - - Shimano -

In 2018, the Aus­tralian Moun­tain Bike Pho­tog­ra­phy Awards pre­sented by Shi­mano pulled in a broad range of en­tries – and the sub­mis­sions for the Pho­tog­ra­pher of the Year were no dif­fer­ent. For the ma­jor cat­e­gory, the pho­tog­ra­pher needed to sub­mit an im­age for each cat­e­gory: Light, Move­ment, Close Up and Com­po­si­tion. Our three judges looked for some­thing unique, and some­thing show­ing worldlead­ing abil­ity in their pho­tog­ra­phy. Plus we looked for a photo that made us want to ride!

Nathan Hughes was judged as hav­ing the best port­fo­lio – and it wasn’t easy to pick given the strengh of the en­tries. Con­tact­ing Hughes, we learnt he is now based in Cha­monix, France. It’s bet­ter known for ski­ing, hik­ing and alpine climb­ing, but Hughes states it’s a re­ally good Eu­ro­pean base.

“There’s so many rea­sons I honed in on Cha­monix, but top of the bill has to be the un­ri­valled land­scape and amaz­ing win­ters!” Hughes was en­thu­si­as­tic about the lo­ca­tion, but also for ac­cess for pho­tog­ra­phy. “It’s driv­able for many of the World Cup venues and it’s just

one hour from Geneva air­port for the other big bike events on the cal­en­dar. I’ve only been here 6 months so I’m still in the process of dis­cov­er­ing some of the most pho­to­genic spots and try­ing to make friends with the ibex.”

“The rid­ing in the Cha­monix val­ley is mostly very tech­ni­cal on non bike-ded­i­cated trails, which brings it’s plus and mi­nus points. I love the wild, un­ex­plored feel­ing of the ter­rain and the chal­lenge of the ul­tra-tight turns and fierce rock gar­dens. The down­side is that you re­ally are bot­tom of the food chain on the moun­tain and, as­sum­ing you’re even al­lowed bikes on the lift, you have to be ready for dirty looks from the hik­ers. The back­drops here on the trails more than make up for any awk­ward­ness in my opin­ion, all the more as some­one with an in­ter­est in pho­tos.”

We had to ask – what is it like be­ing named the AMB Pho­tog­ra­pher of the Year?

“I’m gen­uinely stoked to win the ti­tle, thanks very much! It’s hard to be no­ticed and good work gets swal­lowed up so fast in this Intsa World we are all caught up in. I’ve never won any kind of award for my pho­tog­ra­phy so the first is al­ways one to re­mem­ber too! I’m a big fan of the RedBull Il­lume ‘im­age quest’ and it’s great to see a mag­a­zine like AMB still thriv­ing and run­ning a bike-spe­cific com­pe­ti­tion of sim­i­lar high­stan­dards. Not say­ing I’m a shoe-in for the next Il­lume of course.”

It’s not a given that most moun­tain bike pho­tog­ra­phers are moun­tain bik­ers as well – but for Hughes, the two started to­gether.

“Pho­tog­ra­phy started as a side-show to my bike rid­ing as a teenager. It was a way to doc­u­ment and show off the ‘huge’ jumps and one-han­der vari­a­tion tricks we were do­ing back in the day! I took a keener in­ter­est when I started to travel and I picked up my first SLR on Ebay. At first I didn’t have much of a clue what I was do­ing, es­pe­cially as my first Nikon was film. Not even know­ing what on earth you’ve shot for a week or so doesn’t lend well to ex­per­i­men­ta­tion and pro­gres­sion. Af­ter go­ing dig­i­tal and hir­ing the holy grail lens, a 70-200 f2.8, for a week­end trip to the Fort Wil­liam World Cup, it was Pinkbike that gave me my big break in 2013. I’ll al­ways be in­debted to those guys for launch­ing my ca­reer out of nowhere and of course I still shoot a large amount of stuff for them to­day.”

Start­ing out in pho­tog­ra­phy is usu­ally based on see­ing in­spir­ing pho­tos, and Hughes said it was no dif­fer­ent, with a few pho­tog­ra­phers whose work he re­ally fol­lowed early on.

“As an avid Dirt Mag­a­zine reader in the early 2000s it was all about the likes of Vic­tor Lu­cas and Sven Martin. Fraser Brit­ton, Colin Meagher and Ian Hy­lands were head­lin­ing the pho­tog­ra­phy on Pinkbike so it was also the work of these guys in­spir­ing me to keep at it. The Sprung/Earthed and Col­lec­tive movies had a big in­flu­ence on me and in later years, the Coastal Crew ce­mented a pas­sion for dig­ging, rid­ing and shooting all in one... plus a lust for BC that I still haven’t prop­erly sat­is­fied.

I find it re­ally healthy and re­fresh­ing to keep an eye out­side the MTB in­dus­try and it’s ski and wildlife pho­tog­ra­phy in par­tic­u­lar that keep my en­thu­si­asm for pho­tos high. Right now I think Lorenz Holder is killing the game across a few ex­treme sports and his ‘Rid­ing Thrones’ se­ries is too good.”

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