Tommy Wilkinson’s 15 favourite images

I was always fairly good at maths; I even took it for A levels before I decided that formal Education was a waste of time. Yet, when I attempted to calculate how many photos I’ve taken in the last 5 years my grey matter got stuck on the wrong side of the bulk head and rapidly overflowed to the point where I sank. I simply have no idea, other than it’s a huge amount. In this era of big tech I can tell you it’s over 40 tb of images that I have stored on hard drives.

This makes choosing 15 incredibly tricky, and more of a fluid process that will ebb and flow as my mood changes. Right now, the 15 I’ve chose say something to me, but in a year, they may not. Such is the life of a photograph and its balance between persuasive, or indifferent nature that lies with the viewer. But the viewer is not the aim here – it’s what I like, and that’s a huge reason why photography is a personal endeavour.

Not all of these are biking related. Bikes play a huge part in my life, and have done for 20 years now. Yet I’m a human, and I love many different aspects of life. This smorgasbord of emotions, places and experiences that we are gifted is something I try to make the most of, and seeing how others live their lives around their own interests me. I also think it’s hugely important as to how we interpret life and empathise with others.

So, without furtherado, I’ll get my big ginger bonce off my hobby horse and here you are.

Olly Wilkins / Slovenia . This was on a Cut Media shoot and a photo I’d never processed until I was cataloguing in December 2018. Being a photographer on a film shoot is hard, as you’re entirely beholden to the film crew and their timings. So you tend to have downtime and sometimes snapping candids or incidentals is one of the most things you can do.

 

From racing to photograph, the only way I’ve seen so much of the world is due to bikes. Queenstown is now huge, and there will be many who have a deep affinity for Lake Wakatipu, and maybe some who even remember the Wakatipu Shore, feral TV at its absolute fucking finest.
I do lots of work outside biking,  which means that I get to see other parts of life, which I really enjoy. I took this on my iPhone while walking between some work tasks. It’s ironic that the Grainger Market, a real traditional Geordie shopping market is now a subject of hipster looking photos. But I don’t think it’ll be getting gentrified any time soon, which is a good thing. I like it just how it is.

 

 

A last minute trip to Skye back in 2017. We had no idea where we were going, no idea why we were there but we ended up with crackers. I love working with Kenta and Ben. I’ve known Ben for nearly 20 years, Kenta quite a bit less but what I really like is ripping the piss out of people and people who can give it back. And so does Kenta, so it works a treat. 
I’m big on facts and never get into trends or hype without casting a critical eye. It’s just the way I am; to ask why, then ask some more. My old mate Gus is an Organic beef and pork farmer.  I’ve been working with them on a big, long form project for the last 14 months. He has a fairly small herd, has been fully organic for 10 years and works hard on his pasture, bio diversity, he tills and doesn’t plough which keeps crucial top soil in place, has as re wilding program and is passionate about animal husbandry. I truly believe we have to live and let live so to see him come under attack and put into the same bracket as mass produced, anti biotic fuelled meat production has been sad, when the facts aren’t being presented with balance. This is Penny, who he scratches, cuddles and has a great relationship with. Penny has a calf who is with her and about 40 other cows. They eat grass and enjoy views of the Cheviots and the North Sea in a huge field. Their water comes from a natural spring. Nearly all of her carcass will be utilised and no part of her will go to waste. I don’t know the answer to our global challenges,  or the best way way to live a life, because the facts are not clear, but Gus rarely travels by air, doesn’t use pesticides, supports many local business’s, employ’s 10 local people, eats only organic, local food, and contributes in a positive way to his environment. Much of his land is un-croppable but the pasture blooms and helps with carbon sequesting. It’s not a job, its a lifestyle and seeing how passionate Gus is about both his animals and what he sees as a duty to help feed people in an ethical way as possible is quite inspiring. Society will lead this change, legislation may be the blunt instrument used to pull corporations in line, but I’m intrigued as to where we end up or how committed to the full picture we are. 

 

 

The Alps. Sublime, beautiful and captivating.
In this age of celebrity we need to be careful how we value people. Terms like “net worth” are unhealthy and encourage us to put a value on someone in monetary or status terms, which I could never do. Skilly is one the best human’s I’ve ever met. He’s humble, dry, sarcastic and most probably better than you on a bike, unless you’ve gone better than 50th in an EWS, but he would never ever tell you that. Being eaten by mosquitos, Whistler Alpine.
I don’t use lights that much, but I can. This photo is a bit wrong – the cranks aren’t level. But I really like Ed from Airdrop. He seems to me an incredibly perceptive man that is out there, doing it, off his own back. I admire anyone who takes risk, and setting up a bike company is risk. Brett, who rides for Airdrop is also an amazing rider, who probably would have got an Endtroducing or Bullet proof talent feature in Dirt were it still a thing. Plus, where I took the photo is one my favourite places to shoot.

 

Doesn’t always need big mountains or vistas to evoke energy. Olly Wilkins is Energy .
Jonesy. I took this photo after discovering Lee Jeffries at 500 px. He shoots on a 24mm which means you can’t just wave a 50mm or 70-200 around like a massive schlong. It means you need to get in there, make your subject reflect what you want them to. I don’t believe you have to make them comfortable – It’s a not a school form class photo. This was taken with a 35mm which is just a bit too tight for my liking. Jones is a character and probably the man who got me into bikes really. He lives and breathes it and I’ve got a lot to thank him for.

 

Torridon mountain biking
Katy Winton and Pete Scullion. Two people I have a bit of time for. Moments like these are half the reason why we do it.

 

Stevie Smith. The dust, the focus, the perfect form, the chain flapping around his top. Following Stevie is what made me realise I’d never be a top ten WC rider. His pace down the Canadian open during a practice run scared me. Incredible. RIP.
A pretty simple photo but I like it all the same. It’s great to see riders with skill flourish and I love helping riders develop. I’ve done it a few times now, with some going onto WC teams. A lot of riders can do it themselves these days, but not all, and invariably the ones that can’t are too busy being good on their bikes to worry about other things.  It’s about working together. This photo mixes new school with opportunities in front, and old school who perhaps didn’t have the same opportunities. It’s a nice blend. Bergamont / Descent-World 2018 bike team.

 

Queenstown.
Joe Connell, Slovenia. A beautiful country, warm, laid back and I’d definitely go back.

 

Last light on Barra. A wonderful island with a rich and absorbing history. With turquoise water and white sands, this island, out of many places I’ve listed would be one of my go to places at any given time.

 

This sums Joe up. and the fact he’s photo 18 out of 15 makes it even better.

 


If you want to see more of my photography you can visit my website at https://www.tommywilkinson.co.uk  where Giclee Fine Art  prints are available to order or to see wider ranging work check out dw-agency.co.uk

Tommy Wilkinson

"I don’t know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve" - But I do love bikes.

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