• Hero2

    Emily Maye: The Belgian Cyclocross

Photography

More cycling from top photographer Emily Maye in this thrilling series of the Belgian Cyclocross maelstrom

Posted by Liv Siddall,

Here at It’s Nice That we love Emily Maye, and not just because the majority of us are cyclists. Her unbridled passion for cycling as a sport, a hobby, a pastime or a reason to live is present in nearly every single one of her stunning photography projects, as is the palpable excitement from other cycling enthusiasts who she never fails to recognise in these series.

Her most recent adventure has been to Belgium, where she has shot the Belgian Cyclocross — a muddy whirlwind of an annual, fortnight-long cycle race. “I want to give a sense of what it’s like to be at a race in person,” Emily says “rather than just the action of the competition. Cyclocross is so much about atmosphere and the conditions and the fan interaction. The race unfolds in front of the crowd lap after lap instead of a road race where the spectator has to chase the riders to see them for a split second.”

We caught up with Emily to ask her a bit more about the Cyclocross:

Anyone who knows your work will know that you’re a big fan of cycling, are you a cyclist yourself?

I own a road bike and I enjoy riding it but wouldn’t consider myself a cyclist. I’m interested in the sport of professional cycling and particularly the history of the sport. I very much fell in love with it by looking at old photographs and I hope to capture that timelessness as well. I would say that is more where my interest lies than in riding myself.

What is it about the atmosphere of the crowd watching the cyclists that you love?

I don’t think anyone would come out to watch a road race or a cyclocross race without having a tremendous affection for it. They watch the riders with such interest. There’s also a sense of community amongst the spectators and even a community between the spectators and the riders. Not a lot of sports allow you to get so close to the athletes. It’s really quite accessible to the fans. In cyclocross, the whole family comes out to watch and the riders lap so it’s much easier to see them multiple times. In a road race you have to chase the peloton down. I find that the fact that in cyclocross they come to you, the dynamic changes a bit and it feels much more crowded and there is a lot of interaction with the fans.

Your new series is in Belgium at the Holy Week Cyclocross racing. What exactly is Cyclocross?

Cyclocross is a winter cycling sport where the riders are on a closed circuit and they ride over pavement, grass, muddy run ups and even obstacles that require you to get on and off the bike. Once the riders start, it is full out for an hour. It’s very technical the way that they handle their bikes in those conditions and the weather can often times be an additional obstacle in itself. This was my first year photographing cyclocross and it’s quite different than photographing a road race.

What is it about the wet, muddy conditions of the Belgian Cyclocross that entices you?

There are several things about it. That community atmosphere of the fans is one thing that gives it a lot of energy and excitement. Also because it is a course where they lap and you can often times see what is happening off in the distance, as a photographer, I feel more connected to the action and the events unfolding. Sometimes in a road race it’s hard to get context for something and in cyclocross you are much more invested in the action. That makes photographing the actual race more interesting. If you have seen my other work you know that I am rarely interested in photographing the action of a race and much more interested in the tone of it and the behind the scenes moments and cyclocross has a lot of this as well. The weather certainly adds an element to it. Sometimes when they are so muddy, it’s hard to even make out who is who.

You mentioned before that the spectator has to chase the cyclist to get a glimpse, is there a connection between a crowd witnessing a high-speed sport and the split second nature of photography itself?

A great photo will make you want to look at it much longer than the event actually happened. I think that’s what makes photography so wonderful, that you get to keep that moment and really delve into it. Certainly the experience that a fan has waiting on the side of the road for the Peloton to pass will stay with them much longer than the number of seconds in which the riders quickly passed. They pass you so fast and yet you remember everything: the colors, the order they arrived in, the sound, the effort they were making… A photograph should accomplish all that as well.

It’s been a huge year for British cycling, particularly are there any cyclists or events that you’d love to photograph?

Yes, the British have had a wonderful year in cycling. I just photographed the Tour de France winning team, Team Sky, for the British clothing company Rapha for a lookbook introducing their partnership over the next four years. It’s wonderful to see the British support of the sport in this successful year. That was a job I very much enjoyed doing and I look forward to more work with Rapha in the future. Two riders I have never photographed and would really like to are Fabian Cancellara and Mark Cavendish. As far as events, the Giro d’Italia is the race I most want to photograph. That’s the dream race for me.

And finally, what do you plan to photograph in 2013?

I will be photographing the Cyclocross World Championships in Louisville, Kentucky next month and then heading back to Belgium for the Spring Classics road season. I am working on a project with the cycling journal Manual For Speed that is both written and photographic and will continue contributing stories to theCOLLARBONE in its second year. And perhaps some basketball if the schedule allows.

  • 1

    Emily Maye: Cyclocross

  • 12

    Emily Maye: Cyclocross

  • 10

    Emily Maye: Cyclocross

  • 2

    Emily Maye: Cyclocross

  • 4

    Emily Maye: Cyclocross

  • 3

    Emily Maye: Cyclocross

  • 5

    Emily Maye: Cyclocross

  • 7

    Emily Maye: Cyclocross

  • 8

    Emily Maye: Cyclocross

  • 9

    Emily Maye: Cyclocross

  • 11

    Emily Maye: Cyclocross

Ls-300

Posted by Liv Siddall

Liv joined It’s Nice That as an intern in 2011 and worked across online, print, events and latterly Features Editor before leaving in May 2015.

Most Recent: Photography View Archive

  1. Raymond_cauchetier_itsnicethat_list

    During the 60s Raymond Cauchetier was a film set photographer on some of the most important films of the French New Wave. From À Bout de Souffle to Jules et Jim, Raymond was among the stars and directors that made this period of time so remarkable including Jean Seberg, Anna Karina, Francois Truffant and Jean Luc Godard. His photos were originally intended for continuity and sometimes publicity, but Raymond saw himself as more of a photojournalist and captured images that showed all of the set: shooting on handheld cameras, the unplanned scenes and the initial conversations between the actors and directors.

  2. Perou-itsnicethat-list

    Japanese lesbian turned shaven-headed Marilyn Manson documentarist and portrait photographer is quite the trajectory. Throw into that timeline a period spent considering being a long-distance lorry driver or Christian missionary in Africa, and you’ve got the story of either a deeply fascinating individual or a bit of a raconteur. Photographer PEROU, we reckon, is both. 

  3. Alina-asmus-itsnicethat-list

    Photographer Alina Asmus studied and worked as a fashion designer in Israel, London and Berlin before deciding to turn her hand to fashion photography, and her rigorous training in clothing construction and the nature of textiles is clear from the off in her work. The photographer couples her clean, pared-back aesthetic with unusual artistic direction to capture unseen angles and sculptural forms, glimpsing the strange ways fabrics fall over the body.

  4. Jack-davison-london-int-list-3

    London photographer Jack Davison is fast making a name for himself with his singular lens. Crisp with just the right amount of grit, his portraits are timeless in their subject whilst being modern in their execution. Swinging between a pensive documentary style in black and white and experimental plays of colour and composition, Jack’s work is a study in contrast.

  5. Mariette_pathy_allen_itsnicethat_list

    Mariette Pathy Allen’s photographs are striking because they’re unlike any series about the transgender community I’ve seen before. Rather than focusing on the the theatrics and glamour often presented to us, Mariette wanted to capture the everyday life of a community who were choosing to live in the gender that felt most comfortable to them. Mariette’s photographed the transgendered community for 30 years now but that first photograph was completely by luck. “In 1978 I was in New Orleans for Mardi Gras. I stayed in the same hotel as a group of cross-dressers who invited me to join them for breakfast on the last morning,” Mariette explains. “When I took a group picture, I was moved by looking into the eyes of one of the people in the group. I felt as though I was looking at the essence of a human being, rather than a man or woman.”

  6. Juno-calypso-itsnicethat-list-2

    If your idea of a dreamy night in is to check in to a couple’s suite at the Honeymoon Hotel in Pennsylvania alone and armed with nothing but a camera, a suitcase full of wigs, a number of questionable-looking beauty devices and a can of foreign hot dogs, then you’ve found a kindred spirit in Juno Calypso. “It was awkward,” she says. The London-based photographer captured our hearts and that dark place in our minds that’s usually devoted to Stanley Kubrick and Cindy Sherman with her last series back in 2013. That was when we first met Joyce, her alter-ego.

  7. Emily-maye-itsnicethat-list

    When we caught up with Emily Maye this week, she was halfway through a mad tour of Colombia, Italy, Spain, Belgium and Switzerland, with France still to come. “Then home for some rest!” she told us. In hindsight, it’s something of a miracle we were able to catch her at all.

  8. David_graham_where_we_live_list

    “I am not comfortable with the term ‘Americana’,” says photographer David Graham. “My photographs are often about people’s passions – the way they have painted their house, the kind of car they own, the sculpture they built in their front yard, the way they dress up for a parade or how they have taken on the impersonation of a celebrity or historic figure,” he explains. For over 30 years David has taken to the road, working with archetypes of American vernacular photography from the snapshot to the family portrait to holiday pictures. In his tireless cross-country documentation of the American cultural landscape, he manages to colourfully capture the run-of-the-mill and the offbeat in the same image, allowing the ordinary to seem surreal and vice versa. This is what makes his photographs surprising and familiar at the same time.

  9. Alexander_short_selfie_stick_itsnicethat_list

    Probably the number one stocking filler of Christmas 2014, the selfie stick has only heightened the narcissism epidemic and further perpetuated the social media notion that if you don’t document your face at a place then you were never there. In Alexander Short’s series Take a Good Look at Yourself, he perfectly encapsulates how hilarious these selfie stick portraits look to the people around them. Like the technological equivalent of shouting that you’re having a great time, it’s hilarious to see people on their own, in couples or big groups so determined to get these perfect self-portraits.

  10. Its-nice-that-list-03riccardo-banfi---tnx-2013

    The connotations of club photography are more Chupa-Chup sucking gurners than chiaroscuro, so it’s a pleasant surprise to see the world of dance music depicted in sensitive monochrome usually associated with more genteel pursuits. Milan-based photographer Riccardo Banfi has recently put together Tnx , a book of his images shot at house music club TENAX in Florence. They’re gorgeous portraits that cast a calmness over the mania of clubbing, capturing dance as an artform and clubbing as a valid cultural pursuit. The book’s publisher, Yes I Am Writing a Book, says: “The pictures in Tnx … throw us in the middle of TENAX’s crowd and corridors, with a rhythmical and pressing sequence, trying to convey through images the formal exactness of a [dance] track.”

  11. Amy-lombard-itsnicethat-list

    Nail art is something of an overlooked discipline on It’s Nice That – it’s not often it really flits into our line of vision – so when Amy Lombard got in touch last week to tell us she had collaborated with nail artist Natalie Pavloski on a series of photographs featuring some spangly fingertips, we couldn’t really say no. The photographer has employed her signature bright, saturated style to capture Natalie’s work clasping at greasy burgers, fried chicken, slices of pizza and the odd corn dog, “from White Castle to Taco Bell,” as Amy says, and the resulting shots are as glorious and grotesque as they come. Match made in heaven?

  12. Dana-stirling_dead-water_03its-nice-that-list

    While “ruin porn” as it’s so charmingly known is nothing new, there’s more to Dana Stirling’s work than simply exhuming decrepit architecture with her lens. The series Dead Water shows the Kibuts Kalia Atraktzia water park near the Dead Sea in Israel, a site that holds personal significance for the artist. “The Atraktzia [was] an oasis of sweet water in the sea of death,” Dana explains. “Many Israelis share memories of Atraktzia as part of their tradition of family vacations and weekends. I have never had the chance of experiencing it for myself, yet I grew up knowing of a miraculous fantastic oasis in the middle of nowhere.”

  13. Isabel_magowan_cygnets_itsnicethat_list

    Isabel Magowan’s series Cygnets is a magnificent portrayal of youth in all its forms. It’s the baby swans’ temperament that inspired Isabel, with their graceful and delicate appearance often undercut by their fierce tendencies. “All the individuals in my images are young, their perspective and attitude towards life only just forming,” New York-based Isabel explains. “There is a period where innocence is chipped away as one becomes self-aware, increasingly meeting societal expectations and ideas.”