That’s a photographer’s worst nightmare really, especially since this was my first time shooting the BMX team. I’d been shooting their skate team for years and over time had become friends with John Povah, the BMX team manager. I’d corner him around the office and bug him to let me come out with him and the guys to shoot some photos. At the time I knew two things about the BMX world: one, what an actual bike was and two, it was gnarly, really gnarly. So one day John called and asked if I wanted to go to Austin to shoot the team and a few weeks later, I was sitting in Aaron Ross’s living room watching Chase Hawk’s part in the Empire ‘Bad Idea’ video. Chase had just signed a contract and was about to join the team and Aaron was laughing as he tried to explain how BMX worked to this idiot who was clearly in over his head. — I didn’t realize just how far in over my head until that first trip to Austin. I watched Tommy Dugan scale up a three-storey building and ride off two tiers of roofs to an overhead high drop. I was blowing every photo so I started reading Dig and watching videos instead.
But still, I sucked. So eventually I swallowed my pride and straight up asked the dudes for help. It became like a bit of a joke with the crew, before each photo they’d almost explain what the trick was and when and where to shoot it. It felt pathetic, but in a weird way, it was also really fun. I just wanted to get one usable photo, ideally on the first attempt. After a while I stopped blowing it, Chase stopped making fun of me and towards the end I even managed to pull off a few shots on my own. -SM