This is the fourth of my weekly posts where I introduce a photographer, piece of art, or person that inspires me to pursue my artistic vision. This week, since it is my birthday and I don’t have a lot of time to compose in front of the computer, the Tour de France is on and currently racing through my old neighborhoods in Belgium (Tour de France in Belgium?? Yes, it does happen), and I get a bit cycling mad during this time, I thought I would introduce Graham Watson.
Graham is a world famous bicycle racing photographer. Think about that for a while. He photographs racing cyclists, in Europe mostly, from the back of a motorcycle, facing the wrong direction, in all kinds of weather, in all kinds of terrain, in all kinds of light.
For years I wondered over his images not because I was amazed at his photographic skill. No, Graham is too good for that. He is so good he makes me forget about the about the photography and wonder at the cyclists. He has the ability to bring me into the action of cyclist grinding up steep hills in the woods of the Ardennes or sprinters hurtling themselves headlong toward the finish line on the Champs-Élysées. He’s captured Lance Armstrong’s steely-eyed look in the high alpes and iconically picturesque views of the colorful race passing fields of blooming lavender in Provence. And he does all this with only the gear he can strap to himself on the back of a motorbike with minimal time to set up a shot, in all kinds of weather.
If that wasn’t enough Graham posts processed images from each day’s race on his website the same day. He has even, with the advent of the iPad’s 3G connectivity, posted an image mid-race which is a first, I think.
As I watch the Tour de France this month and marvel at the professional cyclists (some of whom are friends of mine) who spend each July pedaling speedily around France I will also be watching for Graham perched precariously on the back of a motorcycle or crouching on the inside of a hairpin curve in the mountains capturing all of the action.
So check out Graham’s website at www.grahamwatson.com. It might not be your favorite type of photography but you might just find his abilities impressive. Click on the “race updates” link and scroll down to July for the Tour de France, or click on any other links on that page for other races. His galleries page is also worth checking out especially the one with photo-montage and description of what life as a cycling photographer is like. You can find that here. (It was put together back in 2002 before digital really took off so he used film cameras then. Can you image changing film on the back of a motorbike in the rain?)