It may only have been an innocuous advertising shoot at the time, but something about this 2003 session stuck with us.
Raw, in close to the action and a sh*t load of fun, it really sums up everything Dirt stands for. It was the brainchild of photographer Paul Bliss and Hotwheels freelance design, marketing and team management guy Nick Larsen.
Bliss was well known in the industry for his love of ‘dressing’ a shot. He would bring along specific items (in this case a retro open-faced helmet and mouth guard), make sure the riders were wearing the right shoes, clothes, etc. He would also create scenarios, in this case tons of earth mounded up outside an industrial unit to make a kind of urban berm. We loved the resulting shot so much that we put it on the cover of our 20th Anniversary book.
Larsen remembers it well, “This was really a Paul Bliss idea for a GT ad that I wanted to run. Early in the morning we dug dirt onto a wall on the then new Hotwheels Warehouse, and just shot that one image all day. Paul knew the shot, and we focussed only on that. The riders felt awkward in those old BMX lids and mouthtraps and must have ridden that wall ride more than a hundred times. It was dark when we left, and as was often the case with Paul (and particularly then still working with film) he was unsure as to whether we succeeded. But as is always the case with Paul, attention to detail and perseverance pays off. Amazing work.”
2003 was a seminal time for Dirt, we started our first ever race team (with our own Steve Jones as one of the riders), brought Alex Rankin on board to start on the Earthed series of films for us… Dirt and mountainbiking were booming.
The two riders in the photo were Rich Batey and Andrew Rendell (Ren). We managed to track down Rich to get a few words from him about the day and the shoot: