An eye for detail

One-on-one with action sports photographer Steve Shannon

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A dark haired man standing on a bridge with a dual sport bike.

Steve Shannon loves to explore the backroads of B.C. on his Husaberg FE390. — Steve Shannon Photography

Steve Shannon, 27, is a photographer and an off-road racer whose professional portfolio includes the International Six Days of Enduro (ISDE), the Red Bull Romaniacs and Xtinction. He’s also a staff photographer for Selkirk Wilderness Skiing in Meadow Creek, B.C.

Not only has Shannon photographed the ISDE, he’s competed at the event—twice. He even brought home an ISDE bronze medal in 2008. The following year he won the A class at the Canadian Enduro Championships. Shannon has also made appearances down in the U.S. at the Desert 100 and on the American Motorcycle Association National Enduro circuit.

Shannon’s passion for racing and adventure inspires his creativity behind the lens. In a recent interview, RidersWest asked Shannon some personal questions:

How did you get into photography? I got my first camera when I graduated from high school and that’s when it started. Whenever I needed a break from studying when I was in engineering school, which was pretty often that I wanted a break, I would grab my camera and go for a walk around Edmonton. At that point, it was just a hobby. Shooting the Romaniacs, I started to realize I could make a career out of it.

What was it like at the Red Bull Romaniacs? It was an eye-opening experience. I was still developing my photography skills and I was the only photographer there who was also a racer. Romaniacs, if I ever have the money, is another one I want to race. Having that riding and racing experience really helped me capture photos. I knew what the riders were going through and it gave me a better idea of what to capture. I found that with all of my photography, being an active participant in those sports really helps get interesting images. You see it differently.

Are you racing again this year? I will probably go to the Monkey Wrench Cross Country. It’s incredible. The start area is at 4,000 feet above sea level and you get up above 7,000 feet. It’s just outside of Lytton, B.C. (There are) just beautiful views of the coastal mountains. It’s one of the best events I’ve ever done.

What is the coolest venue you’ve photographed? Xtinction in the Badlands. That place is so different than what I’m used to. I’ve grown up in the forest and mountains and out there, it’s flat prairie and then you have all this weird flat rock. For me, it was just a very visually stimulating environment . . .

What are some of the most memorable trips you’ve been on? I’ve only just started getting into the overnight trips . . . Last summer, the trip where I got (the RidersWest Spring 2013 cover photo) on Hailstorm Ridge was pretty memorable. I managed to cut a rad hose and put a hole in my radiator . . . (and) I was a long ways away from anywhere. I had just seen a grizzly bear on a ridge over. I slowed down the leak enough that I could ride and just stop at every creek along the way to refill my radiator. The summer before, I did a trip out to the Kootenays from Vernon to cover an adventure race where the participants were hiking, mountain biking, canoeing and trekking—they started in Meadow Creek and ended up in Trail—it was like 450 kilometres. I brought my dual-sport bike and ran around the mountains, using all the backroads and hiking a lot to meet up with the participants at various spots and get some photos of them. That was a really cool trip.

Do you have any tips for budding photographers? Shoot a lot. Work hard . . . I shot Romaniacs in 2008 and I’m still constantly shooting, reading lots, picking up tips, studying what other people are doing and just working hard trying to get the good stuff.

How does landscape photography differ from action photography? For me, not much because with the action sports, what I try to do is find an amazing landscape and plunk some action into it. I’m not really into the tight-in, close shots. If I can avoid breaking out my telephoto lens, I do. (With) landscapes, you tend to have to be more patient. For the most part, you are trying to find a good spot, find your composition and wait for the light, whereas action sports, I find, is a lot more exciting and there is a lot more physical effort put into it.

Visit Steve Shannon Photography to see more of his photos. 

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