Laurence Crossman-Emms is one of those people that we have had the pleasure of watching grow and develop as a photographer over the last few years. Dirt first came across him three or four years ago now… he took some good shots, but… well… something was missing. But credit to him, he went away, learnt his craft and now produces some of the greatest images out there. He has covered the World Cup Downhill series for us for the last two years (as well as juggling being the Saracen Madison photographer) and he also shot our 2015 Dirt 100.
He’s taken a bit of time off from the World Cup circuit this year, travelling, living the life. He is now based in Whistler for the summer, and will be regularly contributing to Dirt.

Words: Laurence Crossman-Emms
Photos: Laurence Crossman-Emms

Growing up with your passion can be tough, I’ve heard too many stories, countless times, of people who grew up into a business of a once loved hobby, for it now to be the one thing they can’t stand seeing, let alone enjoying. The little boy who grew up with Action Man, only to find that real war isn’t so pretty. Spending time outdoors, on bikes, stacking bricks underneath planks of wood and seeing how far the thing could send you… that was growing up for me, along with dabbling through every other sport you could thing of (maybe because I was never any good at any of them). The thought of ever turning any of that into a profession was way out of the mind, we just had fun, as should all kids.

Meeting like minded friends during my teens, bikes for me were getting big and the planks of wood I first used as a kid were turning into dirt mounds that we could throw ourselves off. It turned into a good few of us, riding out into the North Wales hills at the crack of dawn to go shape some dirt – we felt like heroes, apart from the fact that most of us were really no good. Except for one of kid. There is always one guy that is the guinea pig, goes bigger than most, turns that bar a few more degrees, it was the Asian kid, not dipping into any stereotypical barrel, but it was, Duane Walker.

We build a jump for Duane to go hit, what we felt was the biggest ‘Kamloops’ style jump we had ever built, and naturally I picked up the camera, it was a Canon Powershot S45 and with all its 4 megapixel power, and I starting taking photos of bikes. It’s where cycle photography began for me, still never with the intention that it would become more than enthusiastic snapping.

We would shoot most weekends, when ever we could get the chance, it was always a “didn’t quite get that one”, “oh I think you can go bigger”, “flash didn’t go off”… “again!” sort of deal, but we had a ton of fun doing it. Slowly but surely we started to get some snaps that actually resembled some merit, but it didn’t last forever, I went to take up the seasonaires lifestyle and jumped ship to Canada on my first world wide experience. We never lost touch, but the days of trying to roost corners in Wales were few and far between.

Shooting World Cups, catalogue spreads and names throwing shapes was starting to become a regular thing, but Duane and I still make the effort to spend some time together on bikes. Back in 2013, we made the trip to Les Deux Alpes, France for more turn-breaking goodness filled with the old times of dodgy flash triggers and plenty of “one more!”, these moments make all the tough days worth working hard for.

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