16 May 2018

CONTRIBUTORS: SAM NEEDHAM

WORDS & PHOTOS x Sam Needham

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 blank page. This week we’re featuring Sam Needham as he answers 15 questions about himself and what makes him tick. His attention to detail skills meant he didn’t complete the ‘Contributors’ brief correctly so instead of 10 photos handpick and worded with captions by Sam, we picked 15 of his greatest photos to tell his story for you. In the end you win as you get to see more of his amazing work 🙂

 

Who is Sam Needham?
I’m a Yorkshire based photographer, film maker and illustrator who loves to ride my bike and document the mighty places two wheels can take you.

What makes you happy?
To rattle off a few things in no particular order: Riding my bike. Taking photos. Digging and working on trails. Making films. Doodling. Playing drums. Music, vinyl and my turntables. My good lady and our trail pooch. Being outside. Camp fires. A cold beer after a solid day’s riding and shooting. Good food and coffee. Going new places.

What is your greatest fear?
FOMO and cyclists not wearing helmets.

Tell us something about yourself that no one knows (yet).
I used to play on a pirate radio station based in Leeds, called Radio Frequency. I had a Monday night 10-12pm slot playing plenty of bass driven music and kept things strictly to vinyl for my shows. The station was around for a good while before I joined but I played in its last two years operating before it got shut down after a few studio raids by OFCOM.

How do you escape?
Being outside is always my best escape. Be it for a ride, a walk or digging. If I can’t get outside, scribbling, doodling, music and reading usually eases my mind. And If I had more room in my house I’d have my drums set up for a noisy escape.

What must you carry with you at all times?
My wallet, phone and headphones are usually always with me.

How did you get to this point in your life and what/who influenced those choices?
It’s certainly been gradual progression, good luck and getting to know some great people this last few years. When I first started getting into riding my bike with my friends, we would always take mine and a friends Dads’ film camera out with us and a pretty crappy video camera. We’d shoot all year and develop a bunch of photos at the end of the year and then we’d all try to pinch them for our bedroom walls. We made some funny videos too (looking back on it). The first ever MTB film I made was when I was 14 and we called it ‘White Cider’ because we found an empty bottle of said cider on the trail. Original!

I kept at it with a core crew of friends in the town I grew up and in doing so, kept on shooting and developing my eye until I started to get work noticed on a couple of UK mountain bike websites. The first work I ever had published in print was in Singletrack Magazine as part of a competition. From there, it all kicked off really and the rest is history as the cliche goes. Every shoot I learn something new and I’m ever amazed at the places a bike can take you and the people they allow me to meet along the way.

What would you tell the 10yr old version of yourself?
‘Don’t worry’ – Something I should try tell myself now.

How do you describe your work?
I’m a big fan of trying to really show the location and rider at their best in my images. I’m always looking for those moments to line up and for the light to work its magic on the scene. I’m an advocate of natural light and capturing moments as they unfold as well as seeing that one spot that you know will make an amazing image when you get the time of day/year right. The ‘grout in between’ is something I love shooting too. There’s always a story leading up to and after an image and that’s equally as important to document I feel.

What does your crystal ball show you about the future of MTB media?
Long live print, great timeless stories, awesome platforms like Eskapee caring about photography, films and the quality of content and us all constantly being inspired by this side of the bike media. I feel the bike media is pretty divided. There seems to be a side that’s all about quick content for the masses and the people interested on the fringe of the sport and then there’s the side that is dedicated to pushing the real and great stories. Stories, not just ‘content’.

If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be and why?
If Yorkshire collided with a chunk of South America, the Alps and a secluded Greek coastline then it would probably be somewhere in the middle of that concoction.

What do you do to make flying and travel more comfortable?
Good headphones to keep the plane noise down are a must. Podcasts, a few (usually Wes Anderson) films and a Kindle loaded with a few good reads helps the time fly by for me. Merino tees and socks help keep ya’ fresh too.

What’ the most expensive mistake you’ve made?
Booking an Emirates flight to New Zealand before checking their baggage allowance policy.

What is your greatest memory from working in the world of mountain biking?
There’s been some great ones and so many of them involve a great day riding finishing up somewhere unexpectedly amazing. Being called up on stage with a great crew having won the judges choice award for the 2015 Deep Summer Photo Competition was fond memory too. We really didn’t expect it, so the stoke was pretty real that night. Another fond memory would be riding up in Marquette, Michigan a couple of years ago. My friends and I took a 48 hour trip there. We rode all day Saturday until last light and then headed through the woods and onto the lakeside beach to camp out for the night. As we emerged through the trees we could see the Northern Lights popping off in the distance. To top that, the Milkyway then rose next to the lights and then a super moon started to ascend from the lake. Camp didn’t get set up for quite some time that night!

Why is telling stories and/or taking photos important to you?
It’s important on many levels for me. If people reading and viewing the stories, films and photographs become inspired to get out there and ride, or even just get outside and enjoy what’s out there then that’s a job done. There’s so much more to riding bikes than just ‘shredding’ a trail and every rider, trip, journey, ride is different.

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