It’s been a big year at Norco, and behind the lens for all of it has been Tom Richards. Tom has been the Norco Staff Photographer for the past 3 years, so if you’ve seen a photo posted by Norco, it’s probably one of his. We asked him to select his top-10 photos from 2019, but he struggled to nail down just ten, so instead here are the top-14 photos from the past year.
Pat Mulrooney (Norco Sales Rep) fatbiking in the Squamish backcountry. We tried a few different locations to shoot the Bigfoot VLT launch photos but each time the snow conditions let us down. Too much snow, too little, too patchy or too dirty. I really wanted it to look like a winter wonderland to show just how capable these electric fatbikes are.
Haley Smith leading the charge up the climbing trail while shooting for the Revolver launch down in Temecula, California. I had previously shot in California but only at Sea Otter within the confines of the festival area, so it was great to go for a different kind of trip shooting on actual trails. This was one of those drag yourself out of bed at 4:30 AM kind of days, so early that even the XC team who love punishing themselves were complaining, but we were rewarded with this warm golden sunrise.
Sunshine Coast, BC
My girlfriend Fiona and I pretty much spend every free weekend from April till November camping in our 1981 VW Vanagon Westfalia, usually with riding our bikes in as many new places as we can. Over the past 4 years we have found some amazing wild camping spots, but nothing comes close to the ‘dream spot’ on the Sunshine Coast. We camp at this spot 3-4 times a year so we have witnessed some pretty amazing sunsets, however the one in this photo is the best it’s ever been.
My personal favorite of this list. Henry Fitzgerald cruising past the camera while the light rays burst through the clouds and into the valley. I shot this for the new 2020 Sight launch whilst working alongside a film crew who were shooting the launch video. They were calling the shots so I was working around them trying to get what I could. I really wanted to stand on the exit of this corner and shoot landscape but that would have been blocking the shot for the film guys, so instead I was forced to hide in this little clump of trees and shoot portrait. At the time I was pretty frustrated but as soon as I clicked the shutter on this frame I knew I had a good one.
Sam Blenkinsop pulling up out of a corner on the 2020 Sight shoot. If you ever ride bikes with me you know I love hucking to flat. I love that feeling of pulling up off a small lip, getting a bigger than expected amount of air, then landing heavy and feeling the bike do its job! So, I really like this photo because I can relate to it, even if Sam is going way bigger than I ever could!
Ali Chapple charging during the Range VLT launch shoot. A lot of people assume this shot was taken with an off-camera flash hidden behind the tree on the left, but I can assure you it was not. We had a smoke machine to create a lingering background white haze, which helped to increase the contrast of Ali’s dark riding kit. The background smoke combined with strong but diffused light in the trees that day made for this really crisp atmospheric shot where Ali just pops out of the frame despite his dark kit. I really wish I had taken half a step to my right so Ali was framed more central between the two trees and his hand wouldn’t have been partially blocking his face, but we moved on as soon as this shot was done. Next time!
Another one of Ali Chapple from the Range VLT shoot. Pan shots are really fun, and this is probably the best pan I have ever shot thanks to the golden light and the framing. There is always an element of luck when it comes to shooting pans and if any other photographer tries to tell you it’s 100% skill and foresight, they are lying to you! That being said, I did plan to frame Ali between the two trees when I set up the shot, then luck helped me with that last little 10% to get him so perfectly framed. The golden light turned it from a regular run of the mill pan into something a bit extra.
Jacob Tooke silhouetted against the Alpine glow. After a day in the trees shooting on the Squamish trails, we needed a good spot for some sunset bangers. The majority of trails in Squamish are lower down and under tree cover and we didn’t have time to get up high before sunset. Luckily, Jacob showed me this little area just off the highway. Jacob’s roommate had already shot a similar frame of him silhouetted against the mountain and I didn’t want to just copy that. Instead I framed Jacob to the side so that the angle of his bike mid bar tweak/downturn matched the angle of the mountain.
Bryn Atkinson drifting a dusty Kamloops corner like only Bryn can. This was such a fun shoot, definitely the most fun shoot of the year and one of those ones where I just felt really grateful and lucky that this is my job. Great times with a really great crew and so cool to meet, watch and learn from Scott Secco after years of fanboying his videos! It’s hard not to make a good image when Bryn is laying down these inch perfect drifts 20 times in a row, so hopefully my composition and editing here did it justice.
Cypress Mountain, BC
Sion Gwynn leaning it over into a corner. This was another really fun shoot made all the better by the fact that the rider (Sion) is one of my best mates from back home in the UK, so it just felt like old times being back in the woods messing around with bikes and cameras. It was pouring rain all the way up the mountain road and I honestly thought it was going to be a complete disaster of a shoot, but the rain stopped and we were able to get some classic foggy North Shore vibe shots.
Another shot of Bryn from the Optic launch shoot. You don’t see many corner roost shots from behind, usually they are shot from the front, side or up close for the classic dust explosion shot. I really like the way the dust trail draws you into the central dust explosion and then Bryn is fully unweighted on his bike getting wild.
Port Coquitlam, BC
I have been at Norco three years now and have taken countless bike hero shots like this, many of them right outside the Norco office on the gravel dyke path that runs alongside the Pitt River. I use this location so much that Evan (content manager) has started referring to them as ‘Pitt River Bangers’. Anyway, in the years of shooting Pitt River bangers, this shot of the Optic takes the crown as the best thanks to the orange/pink light that particular day.
Bryn Atkinson tweaking the bars off a little stepdown in Kamloops. It annoys me that his hand is slightly cut off but that’s how it went down.
Chilcotin Range, BC
This photo was actually shot in 2018 but was printed on the cover of the April 2019 issue of Velo Mag so I am counting it in this list. This was my first cover shot. I wish the editors had chosen a different shot from this sequence where Bryn’s face was not covered by his arm, but my general excitement at getting my first ever cover shot overruled any of the negatives. This one is really special to me, something I will always treasure and I need to get it framed to go on the wall. A magazine printed my photo on their front cover! Never gets old.
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