Janne Tjärnström in Åre, Sweden. Photographed in July 2011.
Janne Tjärnström in Åre, Sweden. Photographed in July 2011.

Words by Tobias Liljeroth, Photos by Mattias Fredriksson.

Swede Mattias Fredriksson is easily one of the most recognized and published photographers in both the bike and ski worlds, spending his life shooting the planet’s top riders in the most epic locations, whether it be summer or winter. Here for Dirt, Mattias tells us a little bit about himself and what goes into the work of being one of the main men behind the lens...

Mattias Fredriksson’s job is to capture other people’s dreams in images. To preserve a glimpse of magic to be shared with thousands of others who didn’t get the chance of living that dream in the first place. His images take the observer, if only for a brief moment, to the most epic locations, right in the middle of the action – just by looking at an image in a glossy magazine like the one you’re holding in your hands right now. Mattias simply creates dreams for other people to enjoy.

He follows the world’s top riders to perfect, loamy trails. Or the best skiers in the universe to nipple deep, untracked, blower powder on mountains so remote you hardly knew they existed. Whether it be summer or winter, warm or cold, dirt or snow, Mattias’ camera is always there to capture the magic. It’s a position only a select few, elite, photographers in the world can enjoy. And it all comes down to passion and dreams. His and yours >>

Click Through For our interview with Mattias...

[part title="The Mattias Fredriksson Interview"]

Dirt: Tell us a bit about your background, how did you get into action sport photography in the first place?

Mattias: I started out my career as a journalist, worked my way up from the sports pages at the local daily paper in my hometown of Växjö in southern Sweden to an editor at a mountain bike magazine in Stockholm. This eventually led to a position as editor and photo editor at Sweden’s leading ski magazine Åka Skidor. I worked there for three years until 2000, since then I have been freelancing.

Janne Tjärnström in Åre, Sweden. Photographed in July 2011.
Janne Tjärnström in Åre, Sweden. Photographed in July 2011.

during my time at Åka Skidor as I was asked to deliver photos to the skiers sponsors. I felt it was about time to give it a shot and see where the photography industry might lead me.

Would you consider yourself a ski photographer that shoots mountainbiking, or a mountainbike photographer that shoots skiing?

I don’t see myself stereotyped as an action sports photographer, as I challenge my self to shoot all mediums and lots of other stuff rather than just action sports. I do assignments outside of the ski and bike industry, which allows me to develop my skills as a photographer.

As far as time devoted to ski and mountainbike photography, I spend more time shooting in the snow than in the dirt, as I find myself leaving

the camera behind much more in the summer. Over the last couple of years I have devoted more and more time towards mountain biking though. I really enjoy the mix of skiing and mountain biking, it’s a great balance.

Snow and dirt are two elements that vary greatly, one is bright and white and the other’s darker with green and brown thrown into

Chris Winter in Zermatt, Swizerland. Photographed in August 2011.
Chris Winter in Zermatt, Swizerland. Photographed in August 2011.

What are the differences between shooting skiing and mountain biking?

The main difference is that in biking you don’t have to worry about getting ‘first tracks’, when we shoot skiing we usually want untracked powder snow, which is hard to find in ski resorts these days. With that said, we need to work harder in the winter time and it’s more hassle to get to the locations, and the weather is also a bigger issue.

Since lots of the best mountain biking is to be found in forests, it’s not as dependent on good weather. Also biking is better if someone has ridden the trail as many times as possible, so it’s the opposite to skiing as far are that goes. A bonus about shooting mountain biking is that I don’t have to worry about getting cold hands or the risk of avalanches!

On the other hand, what are the similarities? Sure there must be quite a few.

The attitude in both sports are very similar. I want to show movement, gravity and flow, also how the trail or the line goes through the environment. In both skiing and mountain biking I work with what the environment provides me to make an epic shot, whether that be shooting a line or trail through beautiful looking trees, an interesting feature, the magnitude of the surroundings or stunning light.

I would say shooting both skiing and 126 mountain biking helps me stay creative and find new ideas that I can try in both fields. Mountain biking often takes place in the trees and doing the stereotypic shot is pretty boring so I often see myself climbing trees, crawling around behind bushes, trees and flowers to find creative, different angles. I think my shots benefit from this search for unique angles, which also makes my ski photography more interesting in the end.

[part title="The Mattias Fredriksson Interview"]

Is there any specific feeling you want to express through your images?

I want to inspire people to ride and ski and to show the incredible places that we’ve had the pleasure to go to in a different way. I have no deeper meaning with my work, but it’s cool when people that aren’t even interested in our sports can appreciate an image because it is graphic or very different looking.

world to shoot mountain biking? And skiing?

My hometown Åre, as we have so many diverse trails and I know the mountain extremely well. With that said, even after 15 years in the valley I still find new locations every year. Since I travel so much in the winter time it’s very nice to be able to work a bit more at home in the summer time. Japan for skiing. Lots and lots of snow, super nice people and great food. Hard to beat.

Mattias is hands down one of the most passionate bike riders or skiers I know. He’s not the quiet kind, letting out a loud holler and exchanging high fives after a great run, whether it’s on dirt or snow is actually more common than not. The guy simply loves to ride down mountains. And he rides a lot, even when not shooting. The days spent on a mountain every year, if so only for an hour or two, easily surpasses the days off.

You ride a lot yourself, do you feel this affects your images in any way?

I like to think so, it allows me to see things from the rider’s perspective and get the feel for the trail, the feature or what ever it is. I was a mountain biker before I even picked up a camera and the same as in winter with skiing.


What does the future hold for Mattias Fredriksson Photography?

This summer we are launching a fresh new website, which will allow much more interplay with social media like Facebook and Pinterest as well as the ability to order prints of any of the images on the website. Trips to Norway, Canada and Mallorca are also coming up, but mainly I will ride and shoot back home in Åre.

Any last words?

Enjoy the ride!