I don’t really know if photos still have that kind of impact on kids anymore since there is so much BMX available at their finger tips, but back then you would sit and study every page of the magazine everyday of the month till the next issue came out. I’ve never got to meet Clymer but if I ever do I would love to get a signature on one of my favorite and timeless BMX photos of all time. - JE
I only have two or three BMX related photos on my walls at home but this one of the Shitluck crew is definitely my favourite. It was shot by Ricky Adam for DIG on a freezing cold Hastings beach back early in 2004 and it definitely reminds me of good times in BMX - just a bunch of guys travelling the world on their own dime with no real agenda apart from having fun. It always brings a smile to my face too thinking of all the things these guys used to get up to on and off their bikes. And it especially brings back good memories of the time I spent on the road with Leland and Mike Tag(RIP). If you saw these dudes walking the street you’d think ‘what the fuck are these guys about’... but in reality they’re some of the funniest and nicest people you’d ever be lucky enough to meet. Good BMX photography has been hugely motivating factor for me over the years. There’s nothing better than seeing an amazing photo or getting a great photo of yourself taken. It’s such a big part of what we do. - IM
I don’t think too many DIG readers could forget Joe ‘Butcher’ Kowalski’s Issue 72 cover. The combination of a raw, new street trick with a rough East Coast spot and a legend like Butcher; what more can you ask for? It also happens to be his favorite photo ever taken of him. “I just liked the way it looks. I had the idea of the trick, and I found a spot to do it on. I went there one night, and I made it happen. It definitely wasn’t easy; I fell a few times and got hurt. The Butcher pegs were coming out, and I wanted to use it for an ad. I remember you (Rob) calling me up one day and asking about the photo. You said DIG had an idea for something with it. I said, “That’s cool; we’ll shoot something else for the ad.” I had no idea it was for a cover. (Laughter) It came out one day, someone called me and told me. I was like, ‘What?’ I was so psyched on it; I couldn’t believe it. It’s my most memorable photo.”
While it’s not the first photo or cover Butcher has ever had, it’s his favorite photo for one reason: “It’s my most recent cover. I’m definitely not a rookie pro, and to still do stuff that people want to see, and take photos of, it’s awesome. With something I’ve been doing my whole life and being around that long, to get the cover in recent times is amazing; words can’t describe it. It feels like nothing else.” In an age where video is the most sought after form for one’s daily riding media fix, I asked Butcher what he thinks would happen to BMX if photography disappeared:
“It would just be different. They say a photo can be worth a thousand words, and it truly is. Video can’t capture that. Both are unique and awesome in their own way. I would never want to see either disappear. You need both. It seems like kids are into the hot new shit for this week and this day. I remember hanging up pictures from magazines on my wall of cool tricks. You wake up every day, and it’s all around you; it’s there… you just love it. Today it’s disposable, you forget about it right away. A photo back in the day like Hoffman’s backflip cover of GO, it was the most insane thing I had ever seen in my life. I hung it on the wall and I saw that every day of my life. It was amazing to me. Shit like that influenced me more and made me want to ride. It’s a whole different time and era. I hope kids still want to see photos.” Me too. - Rob Dolecki
When I was asked by DIG magazine to pick out my favorite trails photo that I’ve ever shot for this piece, I was honored, but at the same time I seemed a bit lost. To pick just one out of the thousands of photos I have involving trails is something that deserves some time of thought. I’ve been taking pictures at the trails since 1994, even though the earlier photos aren’t that good, but that’s still a long time. So I took a day or two to think this over and came to realize that this photo of Mike Aitken is the one that hit home for me. There were many photos that were runner-ups, but this one just stood out to me, I’d say more for the meaning behind it.
I shot this photo in October of 2008, and as most of you know, Aitken had a life changing accident that month. It was one that was so severe that it shook the BMX world to the core and influenced many to start wearing a helmet when riding trails. I just so happened to be in Bethlehem, PA the same time Mikey was there, along with a few others, while they were filming with Stew for Anthem 2. This day we were all down in the woods at POSH for a heavy session. Throughout the day I barely picked up my camera. I was having too much fun enjoying the time with friends I haven’t seen in a while and doing some riding along with them. The day started to wind down and I picked my camera up finally (with the permission of Jay Bone of course) to document the last hour of the session.
Mikey was killing this hip all day doing a ton of 360 variations, but since it was the end of the session I just requested a few simple whips, and to tell you the truth, this is what I really wanted to shoot anyways. When setting up for the shot Doug Foulk asked if he should move his seat back to get out of frame. My answer was for him to stay right where he was; I wanted him in the composition. I wanted the photo to portray what a session at the trails is like, and one of those is the enjoyment of watching others ride. It’s also the simplicity of this side of riding, and by simplicity I mean that you don’t have to be extravagant by filling your riding with tricks. You can just cruise through a section getting sideways on every set and have just as much fun, and others spectating will be just as stoked. Mikey gave me a few hits on this set and after a couple of minutes I felt like the last one he did was the best, and he agreed as well. At this point dusk was upon us so we decided it was time to end the session and wait till tomorrow to get things started back up. But sadly, the next day was Mikey’s accident.
It saddens me to think that this is probably one of the last photos shot of Mikey before his accident. But at the same time I feel strangely honored in a way, if that makes any sense. I guess it’s because I’ve never really had so much emotion towards a photo I’ve taken. It almost represents a piece of history. Mikey will always be one of the greatest people I’ve ever seen ride a bike and it gives me so much enjoyment to watch him. And with this photo that I was lucky to have taken, I think it truly shows, and feels what Mikey and riding trails is truly about. I’m sure when people think of him, they think of nothing but pure style; I know that’s the first thing I think of. I hope others see what I see with this photo. You know, I’ve been a photographer for a while now, and more than likely be one for many years to come. And honestly, I think it’s going to be very hard to capture what represents something as much as this does to me, and maybe others. - KT
My favorite photo has got to be the photo of Mat Hoffman on the cover of GO back in 1990 doing the first vert backflip in France. My first reaction was “Holy Shit!” I was in total shock and just stared at the picture thinking that this was the future; riding just got stepped up with that single picture. If any of you remember back then, BMX Action and Freestylin’ formed GO and BMX was in a terrible depression. It was a dead sport but those who did it were diehards. Every magazine I got, I literally cherished, from GO to 2B Homecooked ‘zines. I loved getting them and couldn’t wait to go to the mailbox to read them cover-to-cover. Being the youngest kid on my street who rode at the time, I’d just tag along with my brother hitting curb cuts and other random little jumps. I definitely wasn’t trying to be pro or anything like that. I honestly don’t think anyone has bled more than Mat Hoffman for the sport. I literally consider him to be the Rocky Balboa of BMX. I think if some of the young street riders saw the old magazines today, they’d appreciate the fact that some of the “cool” tricks today were done back in the early nineties, they just didn’t look as pretty. - BC