Words: Nadine O'Connor | Photography: Beardy McBeard | Date:
The Rapha Cycle Club Sydney celebrated its first anniversary last weekend with an exhibition of Beardy McBeard’s photography from this year’s Giro d’Italia. Beardy (the nom de guerre of photographer Marcus Enno) took a few moments during the exhibition’s launch to talk about riding, cameras, and travel.
1. What came first, the bike or the camera?
The camera. I first picked up a camera at the age of 13 and have been taking photos ever since. I can still remember my first roll of film – Ilford FP4, black and white. I walked round the streets pointing the lens of my Olympus OM1 at interesting details, learning how to frame-up what you see in the viewfinder. After the last exposure was made I poured the chemicals into the processing tank. When the photos emerged with most of the fames exposed correctly I was hooked!
2. If you had to give up one, which would it be?
That’s a tough one, it’s like asking which leg I’d like to keep. I think I would have to say the bike – I think I would go crazy without it. My photos try to capture the feeling of riding. Maybe I would take up sketching or watercolours if I couldn’t take photos anymore.
3. Tell us about the featured shot. [A portrait of a man in a bandana, featured above.]
This image was taken during Stage 15 on Plan di Montecampione at this year’s Giro.
The final climb of the stage was nicknamed ‘Pantani Mountain’ in memory of his win there in 1998. I spotted this guy near the finish and thought I was seeing Pantani himself. All the details of his outfit, peroxided beard, the sparkle in his eye. That level of admiration, 10 years on, shows just how loved Pantani was by many Italian fans.
4. You have a very distinctive style, how have you nailed this technique?
As a photographer I consider myself a storyteller, I want to create a narrative in my images.
I use natural light and sometimes backlighting to create dramatic shadows and silouhettes.
I use a shallow depth of field for portraits to emphasise the subject and help the viewer understand the story. I am no stranger to photoshop and use it as a tool to get the most out of my files. I want my images to pop so when people see one they know it’s mine.
5. What’s your most challenging photo taken?
There seems to be a close relationship between the best images and the toughest conditions. For example Stage 16 of this year’s Giro d’Italia. I was perched high on the Stelvio Pass in subzero temperatures. It was challenging enough trying to focus on the riders as they came flying past in the blizzard-like conditions, without the added difficultly of trying to protect my lens from the snow and clearing the condensation on the viewfinder. But it’s these images that best captured the suffering the riders endured. And they weren’t the only ones!
6. You’ve photographed numerous places around the world – Japan, Italy, France, New Zealand, Tasmania – where to next for Beardy McBeard?
I’m really looking forward to photographing the Tour Down Under in January. I was in Adelaide to shoot a story for Cyclist Magazine Australia and had the honour of being shown the sights by a past TDU winner Patrick Jonker. He knows the place well and I’m itching to get back. I’ll definitely be taking my bike too so I can get in a couple of rides. It will be good to share the experience with others on one of the Rapha organised rides.