Dan Barham Interview: The Man Behind the Muddy Lens

Over the last seven years I have watched Dan Barham’s photography and cinematography career explode, becoming one of the very best in the mountain bike industry. Dan works for numerous editorial and commercial clients across the globe and his photos have been published in nearly every outdoors and action sports magazine.

I was lucky enough to get Dan to take a few moments out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions for us at The Mountain Bike Life and he has shared with us some of his favorite photos from around the globe.


Grew up in Manchester, UK, but now live in North Vancouver, BC.

What got you interested in photography?
Initially, I liked having a record of the places I was riding and the people I was with. As I got more into it, I enjoyed inspiring others to share the same experiences, and see the sport in a whole new light.

What’s in your camera bag when you set out on the trails to shoot with friends?
Normally it’s a Canon SLR with a bunch of lenses. Typically I have in the bag: Canon 1DX body 16-35 f/2.8 24-70 f/2.8 70-200 f/2.8 I have a bunch of other lenses at either end of the spectrum but those are the main ones.

What is your favorite lens to shoot mountain biking with?
The 24-70 for sure. It’s a good all-round range, and the newest version (the II) is ridiculously sharp, even wide open.

Do you shoot any other sports?
Yep, although not to the same level as biking. I shoot a bunch of portraits here and there, some random sports etc. Whatever happens to be paying at the time, or my agent assigns me to.

What bikes do you ride?
I have a Norco Range Killer B as my mountain bike, plus a Norco CRR for a roadie.

How many days a week do you ride your bike?
One, maybe two normally. Sometimes if I’m not too busy with work it’s more, often it’s less. Ironically with all the shots of mountain biking I ride my bike way less than I used to.

Where is your favorite place to ride and shoot and why?
Anywhere where the light’s good and the surroundings beautiful. I don’t have one specific place in the world that I prefer, I’ve seen a lot of things and loved them all in different ways.

Who is your favorite rider to shoot with and why?
I don’t have one. I work with lots of different people and they’re all great. You don’t have to be a famous rider to be good in photos, just be enthusiastic and not complain about having to do it “one more time”

Your current favorite mountain bike photo that you have shot?
It changes daily. Hourly. It’s a tough call because I get so used to seeing them day in day out that you take them for granted. Plus all I see is the flaws and things I could’ve done better. Right now I’m going to go with the shot of two riders in front of Cotopaxi in Ecuador, just because of the story behind it.

What is the story behind it then?
We spent two days on the slopes around Cotopaxi, but never once saw the peak, it being shrouded in cloud the entire time. By the end of the two days, we’d given up, and despite getting a bunch of other shots, felt dejected at not getting “the” one we were looking for, so we packed the bikes into the van and started to drive away. Just minutes later we looked back for one last farewell to what could’ve been, only to see the clouds parting and the unto-now-ellusive view of the perfect peak start to form. The next 5 minutes of panicked scrambling led to this shot. Riders: Wade Simmons and Brice Minnigh

Have any fortune cookie advice for someone who wants to shoot a decent mountain biking photo?
Just get out there and ride your bike. The photos will come.

View more of Dan’s work at www.danbarham.com

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