Ladies and Genlemen… It’s been a while since our last “Photographer of the month” (Coco Zurita); and what a treat that was! And this month, we have a very dear friend of Mr Zurita (Insert drum roll); So; may I introduce to you; Cruz, “Ariel Cruz”. Again, Mr Ariel Cruz originates from Chile; and again, he has his own unique perspective. And yes, again we are fashionably late. And again, it’s a BLAZER… So let’s get this show on the road. Ladies and Gents, meet Ariel… -VS
“My Life” by Ariel Cruz.
At the same time I started getting really excited about BMX, my father gave me a “Canon eso100” camera for my birthday. Back then we didn’t have digital. And it was very difficult to afford both films and development. Luckily for me, my father worked for “Kodak Chile” – I was getting the expired films for free. And this really helped!
My progress as a rider and photographer, went hand in hand – Whilst riding BMX the camera was in the back-pack; but when I sustained an injury, my camera was nearby, ready to capture the action.
In the year 2000, with little knowledge of web design, I decided to make my first website specialized in BMX – A place to showcase the photos and moments of BMX. The site is called “bmxchile.cl”. After a few years of steadily updating the website (news, photo galleries and interviews), a magazine called “Contrapedal” (the first Chilean cycling magazine) contacted me. They requested I join as a “contributing photographer” – I joined and contributed to the first four editions. I did this without requesting payment.
In 2003, I embarked on another trip, to visit new terrain with my BMX. On this occasion, I got to stay in the USA for over a year; During this time I worked in bike shops and as a part of BMX shows. I saved hard and managed to buy my first digital camera – A “Nikon D100 + Lens 10.5mm (with flash). This allowed for improved quality, within my work – I was now ready to document PRO riders.
Over time, my camera equipment has not grown much (digital camera, etc) – But my experience, as both a rider and a photographer, has come a long way. All this has allowed me to participate in major events, in many different countries. I’ve also had the opportunity to work for further magazines – A real bonus!
So the years have passed; even today I do not consider myself as a “professional” photographer – This is because I’ve never taken it as a professional career path. Also, there’s no market to pay BMX photographers in Chile. And due to this, I’ve never had enough equipment – I simply can’t justify the costs, when there is little to be earned.
About BMX Photography:
I believe that to be a great extreme sports photographer (like BMX), it helps a lot to be involved as a rider. I understand the tricks and the angles which will look best. It’s not 100% essential to be a rider, but it’s a great advantage. With this knowledge base, we find the desired framing, tricks and composition with ease.
Events and competitions are a great example – Here, being a BMX rider, you already know the competitors riding. You can imagine the next trick and where; so you’re more prepared than any other photographer, regardless of the equipment you have. A good shot, right place, right timing and your picture will be better. Events and competitions are great for practicing to take good BMX photos – You have to be quick and creative to get the best results. At this time no flashes are easily available, or the time to change the lens, but we have the sun, ramps and elements to play with!
As both a rider and a photographer, photography timing is never a problem. However, I still have the challenge of balancing the elements. Or indeed, using the elements to their advantage. We also understand that each riding photo has three main elements to complete – The riders path, the trick itself and the location. So the trick forms its own character, through both it’s own complexity; and the technical-difficulty, associated with the terrain being used. This is a concept generally not understood, by say, fashion photographers or soccer photographers, who will always do a 100% close-up; Thus, eliminating excess material that makes up the picture.
I think the most impressive aspect of BMX photography, is the urban/street set-up – Here a person can get on two wheels and go onto break all the laws, imposed by physics and the urban environment. Ultimately, using space that was never created to be used in such a way! This feature stands out in the BMX more than any other sport! And that’s why the urban/street photos are so impressive – We can always achieve something, way beyond just a “trick”.
Hope you enjoy the pictures.
Good-bye and thank you for the opportunity to showcase my work.
– Ariel Cruz
- Great stuff Ariel, thanks. All the best – VS