Now I might be a wedding photographer in the main, but I’m a MASSIVE cycling fan (as anyone who knows me will tell you). So when the chance arose for me to shoot the team launch of the pro women’s cycling team Matrix Fitness Racing Academy I naturally leapt at it like a scalded cat. Said chance came about through a friend, Nick Hussey (founder of awesome clothing brand Vulpine and subject of a shoot with then pregnant wife Emmalou, now happily the parents of Millar – cycling fans will get the significance of that name).
To cut a long story short, social media played a huge part in this. Through social media I know Nick, and we both now know Stef Wyman, the Sports Director and Manager of the team (also husband of the prodigious Helen Wyman, multiple national and European cyclo-cross champion) . It’s also how Nick met, and then recruited, the ridiculously lovely and funny Jools (now Vulpine’s Marketing Queen) who is well-known on the urban cycling scene for her influential Velo-City-Girl blog. So yesterday was the culmination of many, many tweets, emails, phone calls and an immense amount of preparation which has resulted in Vulpine sponsoring the team for the coming season.
Nick and Stef had very clear ideas about what they didn’t want for the team launch yesterday. They didn’t want the typical ‘line up in your race kit with your bikes and the team cars in the background’. Instead the approach was for me to shoot some documentary shooting in the morning, with a few ‘pack shots’ thrown in for PR use if they’re needed. We put the girls in Vulpine kit and shot the riders together (note that the whole team wasn’t present yesterday due to race commitments abroad). Once that was done, each of the 5 riders were partnered with a photographer and writer. So 5 riders, 5 photographers and 5 writers who’d be interviewing the riders with the photographer present. Aside from that our brief was clear – you’re in charge, you take the rider and get the shots that reflect her personality. My writer was Jools. I call that a win.
That brings us to Jessie, the rider I and Jools were partnered with. Aside from the fact that I recall watching her Dad, Chris, win the Milk Race back in 1991 and that makes me feel old, she was and is absolutely fantastic in every regard. Smart, funny, bright, massive sense of humour, LOVES the camera and was just an absolute joy to spend the day with. It’s a cliche, but I couldn’t be happier with the work we did together yesterday. So Jessie, thank you. You were the best.
Once we had the shots and interview it was a swift cab over to the brilliantly named cycling cafe that is Look Mum No Hands. The brief was for each pairing to select their favourite shots of the day and for these to be projected behind the official team launch. Pressure truly on, Jools and I selected the shots you see below (it should be obvious from the shots where it’s just Jessie alone, she’s the one with the long blond hair in case it’s not). The team were presented to the packed crowd (and I mean packed), Stef was interviewed and the riders were then interviewed by the many press in attendance. A very, very long day but I left absolutely buzzing.
Nick and Stef are doing amazing things. They care deeply about what they’re doing, and are unwavering in their determination for women’s racing to be given the respect and coverage it so richly deserves and which is sadly so often lacking.
And finally, a roll call of the riders in attendance and their twitter usernames. It would be great for people to follow them as they progress their careers and make their way on the roads of Europe. I loved meeting all 5 of them yesterday, and had a blast with them. They are top, top girls and a huge credit to their families, to Stef and to each other. They are then – Jessie Walker (@jesiwak), Corrine Hall (@corrinehall), Hannah Walker (@spannawalker), Jo Tindley (@jltindley) and Harriet Owen (@harrieto93). You can find Nick at @vulpinecc, Jools at @ladyvelo, Stef at @ds_stef and Helen at @CXHelen. And you can find me at @guycollierphoto.
As for me, well I’m tired, but happy. This is all about the tremendous 5 girls, the superb team behind them, and a small, dedicated group of people doing incredible things. I’m immensely proud to have been a part of it.