5 Sep 2018

CONTRIBUTORS: Niklas Wallner

WORDS & PHOTOS x Niklas Wallner

Our contributors are the lifeline of our stories, photos, videos, and content. They each bring something different to Eskapee and without them we’d be a completely blank page. This week we’re coming all the way from Sweden and feature Niklas Wallner as he answers 15 questions about himself and what makes him tick. We also asked him to pick 10 of his favourite and/or memorable photos – each with their own story.

Who is Niklas Wallner?
Niklas Wallner is a 28 year old ”kid”, a freelance video- and photographer that is trying to live a creative life in Östersund, Sweden. I’ve got a bachelor degree in Photojournalism and been in the mountain bike world my whole life.

What makes you happy?
My morning coffee, good music, a good riding session with friends, being out shooting videos and taking photos, good weather, good people, family…..Basically a lot of stuff makes me happy!

What is your greatest fear?
My greatest fear is not being able to do the stuff that I love and spending time with the people I love, from photography to riding a bike. Not having that in my life is probably my greatest fear.

Hampus Jonsson - The dream factory: The people that work here call it the dream factory. A personal project about the people working at a thermal power plant.
Richie Rude, Finale Ligure, Italy EWS 2016: It’s a funny picture that pretty much sums up how people look at the world nowadays: it’s more important to capture the moment rather than be in the moment.

Tell us something about yourself that no one knows (yet).
I’m trying to learn the guitar……….

How do you escape?
I think every time I’m out shooting I’m kind of escaping in some way. I have to be so in the moment and present with all my senses that the rest of the world stops. It’s me, the camera and the subject, everything else disappears.

What must you carry with you at all times?
My phone…..but I try not to…

Max Fredriksson, Whistler, Canada, Crankworx 2016: Max is from the same part of Stockholm as me and I did some filming with him when he was 13-14 and it's pretty cool to see him make it all the way on to the world stage now.
Another personal project which I haven’t found a name for yet. It’s about the warm-hearted people in the local choir in the village Sågmyra, which has a population of 540 people. The singing is one thing but the classic ”fika stund” (coffee break with a cookie) is just as important.

How did you get to this point in your life and what/who influenced those choices?
Well, this could be a long answer and there is a lot of different circumstances that got me to where I am today. But I’ve alway had a pretty clear view of what I wanted to do and I try not to let people influence me too much and I rather listen to myself. But of course I’ve had people that have had a big influence on me: my brother, my parents and Herman Ölund are the main people that have had a big impact on me. My parents got me my first camera, Herman Ölund was the big hero growing up and he kind of took me and my brother under his wings during the early days off racing downhill. And my brother always encourages me to go for it!

What would you tell the 10yr old version of yourself?
How’s the back after 10 years of carrying a camera-backpack? Should I take up yoga maybe?

How do you describe your work?

Robin Wallner, Stranda, Norway 2017: After hours of hiking up the mountain it was time for some play time, Robin Wallner enjoying some airtime on his way down to the fjord again.
'Between heaven and earth you will find paradise', Borlänge, Sweden, 2017: The picture is from the photo story 'Between heaven and earth you will find paradise'. The project is built around young people growing up in a so-called "risk area” in Sweden. The kids got to borrow my camera for a bit and that’s one of the photos they came back with.

What does your crystal ball show you about the future of MTB media?
More exhibitions, more photo books from big names in the sport, more recognition in mainstream media and more personal stories.

If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be and why?
I’m happy where I’m at. Sweden is a pretty awesome country to live in! But it would be cool to spend a year or two in the USA following the Supercross series from the inside.

What do you do to make flying and travel more comfortable?
Listen to podcasts, some good music and a good book, that usually make traveling a little bit easier.

Peter Sagan against Alexander Kristoff - Road world championships, Bergen, Norway, 2017: I had never experienced a bike race like this in Scandinavian, the streets where packed with people. This was also my first time covering a big road cycling event.
One of the questions was, ”What do you do to make flying and travel more comfortable?": Well this is one big part about traveling, try to find a good sleeping position...:

What is the most expensive mistake you’ve made?
So far it’s been smooth sailing. I’ve only broken one or two drones and a couple of lenses along the way.

What is your greatest memory from working in the world of mountain biking?
Oh, I’ve got so many, but going from the fjords in Norway to Iceland in one week was pretty cool, or getting pulled over by the coops in South Africa in a shady neighborhood telling us we where going to get ourselves killed if we stayed there (we where lost and was trying to get to the airport) – that was an interesting experience. But pretty much every trip I do has a special memory that I cherish. It’s pretty cool to have the opportunity to see the world.

Why is telling stories and/or taking photos important to you?
It’s a way for me to understand myself and how I work as a person but also understand the world that we live in. Also photography is my diary, the people I’ve meet and the places I’ve been to get their own page in my photo archive.

Adam Cianciarulo, Pala raceway, 2014: Note to self, always bring your camera. I was actually in California preparing for the 2014 downhill world cup season and we went to Pala raceway to do some training on the moto bikes. The pros where there preparing for the supercross season. It was the first time I got to see supercross live and it was mind blowing how fast they where going.
Robin Wallner, Åre, Sweden 2012: Countless hours spent on this mountain. The first time myself and my brother got to ride downhill in Åre was back in 2001. The only track back then was the World Championship track from 1999 and on an hardtail I managed to make my way down it. Pretty much since then I’ve been traveling to Åre every summer to ride my bike.