AI – Josh McElwee

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Is there any advice you would like to say to the reader?If you know what you want to do, just keep at it, being patient and persistent is so important. Don’t take ‘no’ for an answer.

What got you into photography?I got into shooting photos by looking at magazines and watching my friend Bryan Heiser shoot in 2006. I was always blown away seeing lit-up BMX photos and the vibe they created.

Was there a specific moment that you realized you wanted to do this for a living? Pretty early on, it’s all I’ve ever really wanted to do since I started shooting. Every little thing I learned just pushed me forward to figuring out what was next.

Why do you primarily shoot action sports? I’ve been riding BMX since I was 12, much less in the last 4 years or so but I’m a lifer. I love the people and the places that you encounter, the whole adventure aspect of it is definitely my favorite part. I also really have an obsession with ‘the perfect moment’ so to speak.

What got you into shooting BMX? Just being around it so much, riding with my friends and trying to figure out how to shoot photos of what they were doing. Looking at magazine photos was a huge inspiration too.

When did you start to go to Camp Woodward? As a camper, for the first time in 2004. I started working there in 2012.

Why do you come back to Woodward every year? I love the people that I work with and I enjoy the challenge of trying to create new work in a place where I’ve spent so much time shooting. It’s a really beautiful place that I think everyone should try to visit at least once, there’s nothing quite like it.

Who are some influential people that you have worked with in the BMX world? Too many to list here, which I am very grateful for. I never take those things for granted. Recently I have been working a lot with Brian Kachinsky on a long term project, which has been an incredible experience.

With working with huge companies such as Redbull, ESPN, NBC Sports and many more do you look at anything differently or feel stress with making content for these businesses? Not really, I try to give my best effort no matter what I’m shooting, whether it’s a paid commercial job or just going out and shooting something for the sake of making a photo. Stress definitely comes into play but being well-prepared is a good way to combat that stress.

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What gear do you use to shoot? Canon 1DX, 15mm 2.8, 24-70 2.8, 70-200 2.8, various Pocket Wizards, four Einstein flashes with corresponding Vagabond batteries, 45 degree and 28 degree reflectors for said flashes, various light stands from 6-13 feet, a C-stand with a boom arm, grids, a full set of color correction/theatrical gels. There are additional items but the aforementioned list represents the bulk of what I use on a day-to-day basis.

Where are some of your favorite places your camera has taken you to? California and Iceland. Both very unique and beautiful in their own respects.

What is your plan for 2018? Get more commercial work outside of action sports, shoot a lot of environmental portraits, move to somewhere warm permanently.

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Credits: Portorit – @gutstains, all BMX photos – Josh McElwee @joshmcelweephotos

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