Luke Scheybeler and Camille McMillan have created something rather special. The Collarbone is a free iPad app that works equally perfectly for fans of both cycling and photography, with strking, dramatic images capturing the realities of competitive life on two wheels. With a background steeped in both – Luke was co-founder of Rapha and responsible for their recognisable aesthetic and Camille was editor at large at Rouleur magazine as well as his projects for Team Sky, IG Markets and Sharp Electronics. We caught up with the pair to find out more…
How did the The Collarbone come together?
CAMILLE: A joint desire to produce a ‘thing’, maybe a magazine about a passion we have in common – cycling. We talked about magazines and came eventually to the iPad for two reasons; freedom (away from tyranny of the printers press and the cost of that print) and it’s a natural habitat for photography.
LUKE: Visually, cycling is an amazing sport and virtually unique in that it happens against such a remarkable series of backdrops, whether that’s the fields of Flanders, the high Alps or the stinking drinking pit in the centre of a Belgian velodrome.
The thing that I like about working with Camille’s photography is that he’s not afraid to explore the mundanity, amateurishness and awkwardness of professional cycling. Sure there’s glory, suffering, pain and heroism, but that can become a little contrived if you’re just searching for moments that tell that particular story. We like the back stories – the invisible helpers, the creepy fans and the bored security guards.
Why the iPad app? What is it about the format you like so much?
CAMILLE: I had a love affair with E6 (slide film) for may years. I loved to look at large format photography on a light box. When I first started making photos I could go and get a an E6 roll of film processed in one hour. To me that was fast – I could walk around all day taking pictures and processing films – react to films I had shot an hour before. Digital speeds that process up, I have almost lost interest in film because of it. ALMOST, but I will never lose it.
LUKE: The iPad is attractive for two main reasons. Firstly, images look incredible. As Camille says, it’s a portable hand-held light box. There’s something very direct and vivid about images on the iPad, whether they’re digital or film; the device has a tactile element to it that a laptop doesn’t have. Fingerprints on the screen, the feel of swiping, passing it to a friend. It’s both personal and social in the way that laptops most definitely are not.
Secondly, and just as importantly, the genius of the app store makes The Collarbone possible in the first place. People talk a lot about Steve Job’s legacy in terms of the products that he conceived, the simplicity of Apple’s design or whatever but for me the most inspiring thing is that the iPad and iPhone devices have come to life via an entirely new economy – an economy of apps. That’s surely Apple’s most amazing invention.
Focus is a very important thing with content on the iPad. Lots of apps simply try to do too much, try to be too clever. The Collarbone is about one thing; pro-cycling reportage photography.
We’ve heard that cycling is the new golf, what’s the reason for the recent resurgence?
CAMILLE: Golf is seen as old school, people want to do things that are heathy, it’s cheaper and less dangerous than motor sport. You can measure each other’s dick length in the Surrey Hills, no club necessary.
LUKE: I sincerely hope that cycling isn’t the new golf. I think that cycling is actually very different, people are realising that it’s actually a significant lifestyle shift. In terms of fitness, freedom from traffic and the fact that bikes are beautiful, customisable, unique objects, it offers a lot. The fact that British pro riders are doing so well these days doesn’t hurt. The UK still has a long way to go in terms of embracing professional bike racing though, the coverage in the mainstream British press is woeful.
What is the plan for The Collarbone later this year?
LUKE: We’re anticipating the launch of the iPad3. Rumours are that it will have an even higher resolution display. We’d like to do something with sound. Whether it’s commentary from pro riders or recordings from the peloton I think audio and stills photography is a very underrated and powerful medium. And there’s lots of room for experimentation. Camille wants to beam shots directly from the back of the moto… we’ll see how that works out for him.
As keen cyclists where would you recommend our readers saddle up and head to?
CAMILLE: A city centre Criterium – there is a big atmosphere, speed , hopefully crowds and a pub or two.
LUKE: Sure the Alps or the Pyrenees are nice, but go to Belgium. The people are lovely, the cycling’s brilliant, the beer’s strong and there’s a wonderful surreal agricultural moodiness about the place. Head to Gent for the Six Day, then Oudenaarde for the Tour of Flanders museum, then ride the course of the RvV. Then get pissed.