Interview: Sean Hardy

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1.     How did you start taking photos and what was your first camera? (how old were you and what was your first camera?

Photography came into my life quite late on. It was 2010, the birth of my daughter that forced me to get a camera. I quickly realised my smartphone was not going to be up to the task of capturing a fast moving toddler so I got my hands on a Nikon F100 (film camera) with a little 35mm lens. My love affair with photography started at that point and has grown into everything I do now. I cannot imagine leaving the house without a camera in my pocket.

2.     Do you have someone that inspires your photography? 

Emily Maye always produces amazing work. She was at Roubaix with Trek this year and I saw a shot from their online gallery that instantly got me asking “why didn’t I think of that!!!”. She always finds a different view point and the end result is just as it should be.

My ‘photographer idol’ is Ben Ingham. He was a large part of the Rapha image and still produces images that inspire me. If I get one of these days where nothing feels like it is going right on a shoot, I quickly revert to my ‘Ingham mood board’ and my images instantly improve.

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3.     How do you describe your photographic style?

I come from a documentary background, so I am always keen to tell a story or feel like a moment has been captured. I look for character in my photos.

I shoot with prime lenses, meaning I have to use my feet to zoom. This forces me to think ahead before the shot arrives. I like this approach and I believe it helps me deliver my images in a style that can be viewed as my own


4.     
A photograph captures a moment in time.  In cycling, it could be the struggle with oneself while climbing, or the fierce competition at a finish line.  It could also be the agony of defeat.  Do you have a particular photo you’re most proud of?

I love this one of Cancellera. He had just finished Roubaix for the last time and I love how spent he looks but also you can see the reporters have attacked him straight away. Sums up that day for me.

Cycling gives so much for photographers. The riders display all manner of emotions but also the fans. There is never nothing to photograph.

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5.     Tell me about some of the projects you’ve been part of.  What has been your favourite project to be a part of, and why?

They have all been very different. I have shot features for Simpson Magazine showcasing Pro Team Bikes (Canyon). I have produced product images for Rouleur with their collaboration with John Smedley and chasing riders from The Velo House across France to document their achievement. Personally this weekend was a dream come true, to spend time with Cannondale and then have free creative expression to document Paris Roubaix was perfect.

6.     Have you had the chance to photograph a grand tour?  If so what has been your favourite Tour and what are the lengths you have to go to get the shot you require?

I have not had the chance yet but I am keeping everything crossed. Obviously the Tour would be amazing but I know I am new to the scene and my chances are slim but you never know!

Skip lunch, forget about dinner and function on little sleep. It helps to be a good climber as well, there is always a tree to help you get a better view!

7. Tell me a story about when something didn’t go quite as planned and how you got around it to make is successful.

Touch wood this has not happened yet. I am not the world’s best planner so maybe this is why – go with the flow and nothing disappoints then!

8.     Who has been your favourite cyclist to shoot?

Luke Rowe is a dude, he never fails to look cool. I would like to shoot “G” though, not had the chance to do that yet.

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9.     Are there different skillsets for photographing road racing vs cyclocross or mountain biking?

CX is easier for me. The riders loop past enough times for you to get the shot you want and there are so many opportunities to shoot from. You just have to accept you are going to be cold, get very muddy and the weather will be pants. Road racing is super fast and you have to plan your shot a little more, thinking ahead is vital and can really help you get that shot you are after.

10.     What’s some of your favourite gear to use? 

I always carry an X100s for the times when I want to get stuck in. It’s such a great little camera and lovely and light.

I am very old school with my cameras, I still use an old knackered Canon 5D original. It has no automatic features and is not the quickest shutter speed but I just love the images it gets. It also makes a gorgeous ‘clunk’ when you hit that shutter button, there is nothing better.

11.  Do you ride yourself?

I do. If I am not chasing a cyclist with my camera then I am doing my best to hold onto the wheel in front on my bike. I started cycling three years ago and it is now an everyday part of my life. Cycling sums everything up for me, you never come back from a ride with life more complicated than when you started. You can learn so much from this sport.

12.  What would be your dream bike?

Good question. If I really had to choose it would be a C40, you can’t go wrong there.

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13.  Running a successful photography business requires various skills such as networking and marketing, how do you find this and do you have any advice for our readers?

Marketing has always been quite natural for me. If you do something you love and with a passion then you will market yourself without thinking. If your images are good then people will share them and life becomes easier. I should spend more time forward planning my marketing approach but Instagram and Twitter seem to be doing the trick at the moment.

Networking is always fun. The best advice I can give is be just yourself. Learn from others and be respectful of what you want to achieve. You will be amazed if you just ask people for help or advice how much they are willing to give you. We all start from nowhere at the end of the day.

The key is to do something you love then your work will always shine through.

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