Sometimes it's not enough just to supply a great image. The brief for the What Mountain Bike 'speed issue' was simple: lots of motion blur in the background, rider working hard, great sense of speed. A bike and kit was sourced for the shoot, and ex-national champ Paul Lasenby stepped up to model.
But we didn't reckon on a combination of slow-off-the-mark suppliers, incompetent couriers, a tight deadline and a rapidly approaching Atlantic weather front. With time running out and no sign of the new kit, a decision was made to squeeze a shoot into the last remaining hours of sunshine before the weather broke. We ended up, literally, with two hours to get the shot, but after some scrabbling around I found this location: long, backlit grass with a great singletrack trail running through the middle of it. As the dying rays of the sun disappeared out of sight over the horizon, Paul and I rattled off as many variations on the theme as we could.
I was pleased with the result - it fitted the brief and the light was beautiful. Job done.
Er, no. A photographer is often the worst judge of their own work, and so it proved in this case. Whilst the guys at the mag loved the shot, they didn't feel it was right for their 'speed issue' cover. Wrong bike (long travel rather than racy), dark kit and an over-large Camelbak all contributed, they felt, to a feeling that it didn't quite say 'speed' in the way that they wanted.
So it was back to the same location with a new, racier bike, brighter kit and a smaller Camelbak. We didn't manage to replicate the same gorgeous end-of-the-day light, but we came away with an image that everyone at the mag was happy with. Which, when all's said and done, is the most important thing.
But I still prefer the original...