Scandinavian Photo Challenge – Monkey & the Woos

Mountain Biking Magazine



Scandinavian Photo Challenge – Monkey & the Woos

Things are really heating up now, time for the runner-up in the Scandinavian Photo Challenge: Monkey & the Woos (or Team Britain as they were originally named).

The crew at the Scandi Challenge sent us this below, but be sure to check out Cunny and Grant Robinson’s Q&A with eachother under the vid…interesting reading.

“The name is an imaginary band name made up inside Richard Cunynghame’s head. So, who’s the monkey then? Well, if you’ve ever seen photographer Grant Robinson’s ginormous sideburns there’s no need to wonder anymore. Grant and his team, starring the lovely pair of Hannah Barnes and Helen Wainwright, and rounded off by Richard Cunynghame and Mike Smith, made a solid effort of capturing the complete essence of life and riding in Åre in a stunning slideshow. Not to mention the best soundtrack of the entire competition by far: Nancy Sinatra & Lee Hazlewood. Amazing.”

Scandinavian Photo Challenge – Monkey & the Woos >>

Photography: Grant Robinson –

Riders: Hannah Barnes, Helen Wainwright, Richard Cunynghame, Mike Smith

Music: Some Velvet Morning – Nancy Sinatra & Lee Hazlewood
Pull A U – The Kills
Window – PVT
Some Velvet Morning (New Version) – Primal Scream with Kate Moss


Cunny and Grant Robinson worked closely together on their team, Monkey & the Woos, slideshow. After getting second in the competition they got together to type shit at each other on Skype to try and explain to themselves and you, where they were coming from with the ideas behind their slideshow. I hope you can tell when they’re talking sense and not.

Richard Cunynghame: Why did you want to do this photo challenge?

Grant Robinson: I didn’t! Mattias (Fredriksson, organiser) made me! Ha ha. Nah, I guess as a photographer it is an exciting opportunity to create something with no boundaries. No art director, no stylist, and no editor telling you what they want. Freedom is the main draw.

RC: What is it that you wanted to do with this freedom?

GR: To me the mainstream images produced in mountain biking don’t hark back to the documentary style where I believe photography’s roots lie. I wanted to produce images that have more feel than look if that makes much sense.

RC: Is that why you wanted to be involved, because it always looks like you want to feel me when you’re perving through that lens!

GR: Terry Richardson (Fashion Photographer) once said he didn’t feel right asking girls to take their clothes off for his pictures if he wasn’t comfortable to do the same. I haven’t been caught mountainside naked yet but there will be a day. And yes, I am a pervert. Actually every photographer has voyeuristic tendencies don’t they?

RC: Is that why you asked the girls to unbutton their shirts at one point?

GR: Of course. Wouldn’t you have?

RC: Well I was looking more for the artistic side of this project.

GR: Artistically we were trying to bribe Seb Kemp the head judge. He is a sex pest with pestering abilities akin to no-one else I have ever met.

RC: I have witnessed that side of him, persistent if not successful. Artistically what else were you trying to achieve?

GR: When I called you to be on the team, then asked you to do the edit your first response was that I was incapable of producing enough content…prick! But your ideas and motivation to produce something with links to concepts and situations outside of mountain bikes really hit home. I was really surprised to be asked to shoot in the first place because A: I don’t feel that I have the history or talent to be included amongst the other photographers that were there and B: My style of shooting isn’t ‘epic’ or whatever, more documentary and I don’t always see it fitting in the mainstream. I’ll let you explain your ideas of chiasmus as that will go a long way in explaining the artistic aim I had in mind.

RC: Without kissing your arse, part of the reason why I wanted to work with you was that you would bring a different rawer look rather than the epic that we see quite a lot of especially in slideshows. The thing with chiasmus was something that came from reading about the titles of Autechre records, they are all cryptically named to represent their order in Autechre’s discography so the fourth one is called Chiastic Slide. I read up about what Chiastic was and found out it is a literary form, particularly used a lot in the Bible, the Torah and Shakespeare to articulate a balance that is often conflicting, or something like that. This worked perfectly to help illustrate an idea I’d had for a while about mountain bikes being very conflicting, in duality as to say. Made up of two parts. Were as a magazine could show this I thought a slideshow was the perfect media to demonstrate the conflicting sides in bike riding. Jesus I feel pompous now!

GR: Pompous is a good word. You could be called ‘PP’ for short…pompous prick. Wasn’t there a Pompous Pilate in the Bible or am I mixing up my words? I think your point of conflicting sides to riding hit the nail on the head for what we were trying to do. Your title of Duality I think gave us a perfect, dare I say, simple aim, but you’ve never told me how you came to that?

RC: That too was from a record, simply called Duality by DJ Krush. The word just stuck in my head and the more I thought about it the more I realised mountain biking was very much a contrast of two things a lot of times. Sometimes, it’s hugely enjoyable, at others it causes you loads of pain. A ride through the woods can be peaceful or it can be the most violent experience ever. It was when you said we’d have a team of two girls and two guys riding that I thought we could really play about with the idea. It was cool to see you interpret it in so many shots, we were lucky with the weather that we had a day of mist and rain and other days of sun. It was good to work with you on a new way to show your photos, you haven’t done anything with film and moving images before have you?

GR: I’ve worked on a couple slideshows for commercial clients but never in a situation where I had control of the end result or even knew what it was going to be. This was a total eye–opener for sure. The hardest thing both physically and mentally that I’ve done. On the bike all day and your brain just doesn’t stop thinking about shots, light, your riders and how it’s all going to fit together in the end. For sure it might be the most powerful way to show still images. Again going back to the documentary roots of photography I love being able to tell a story with pictures and often in print form you are limited by pages, layout, design and even by the words as often the words can influence the way you see the image(s). In this instance your tools are music and an image, your job is to make the viewer feel something. Our music was pretty damn good, you had some of this chosen before we went? I guess when your editing film all the time music is constantly on the brain and is pretty important to how you put an edit together?

RC: I’m a little bit addicted to music anyway, I almost can’t stand silence. I don’t think there’s anything more inspiring. It’s definitely true that I’ll consciously put music to one side if I think it will work with a film and there were some of my favourite tracks in here that I’ve been dying to use for years.
GR: How much does editing film differ to editing a slideshow and which do you prefer?

RC: The last slideshow I edited was a few years ago and it was fun to do it again but the ones I’ve done before have always been with pre-existing photos, to shoot specifically for this was amazing. It gives you a different set of parameters and ways in which to tell the story and theme. With no dialogue you have to rely much more on emotion in the image which is a challenge but also rewarding. Working with you, who as a photographer was looking at it in a different light was also refreshing, you’d suggest things that might normally be overlooked, some because they’re stupid but others were really great and beneficial. And you were getting creative with quite a few different styles of process in the show, why was that?

GR: I processed the images based on the feel of the section we were editing. The black and white section for example was just that, black and white with very little mid-tones because it fits with the track on that section. When you have processing tools at your disposal it only makes sense to use them and I like to do things that maybe push the boundaries of what is acceptable or considered the ‘right’ way. Same goes for our intermission where Marilyn is singing Happy Birthday next to the scene of a murder…haha…bit dark is that but there you go! You gotta have some fun and Åre is a pretty special place both to ride and hang out don’t you think?
The Åre crew (Mattias, Chrille, Jonas, Tobias, the list goes on) seem to have a real buzz going on over there too and don’t you think this all fed into our enthusiasm for creating something suited to that environment?

RC: Yeah, Åre is an amazing place and the people that you mention are such a good group of riders and mates. I feel happy that we managed to get across how amazing a place it is, I hope that people that watch it feel that too.

GR: And the girls in Are are particularly easy to look at, especially the two in the cafe whose names I have forgotten. This is the most sexist thing I will ever say but a pretty girl in an apron who can cook like they can, is possibly the sexiest thing in the world. Isn’t that a way to a man’s stomach…through his heart? I mean the other way ’round!!

RC: I know, I would have got married at least four times out there if only they’d said yes. At least I knew when I was beat, remember how persistent a pest Seb was, unreal, I’ve never seen anything like it. As dignified as wetting yourself that lad.

GR: The South American party was definitely a good time…and the ping pong party…but you probably don’t remember much of that!

RC: Those shots you got at the South American Party really played into our hands and added some weirdness. I remember bits of the ping pong party before I passed out. I do remember hitting either you or Seb Kemp round the face with the bat, I can’t remember which of you it was but I know both of you would have deserved it!!

GR: Haha, ‘the ping pong party’ sounds like something out of Bangkok. Good thing our balls were clean. Oh god, that was very much an unintended pun. Hahahahaha. Given the opportunity to do it again would you and what development could we bring to the table?

RC: I’d love to do it again, next time I’d insist that you actually shoot the whole thing in a monkey costume rather than just looking like one.

GR: That should be part of the rules for next year. Imagine how hard that would be but Jesus it would be funny.


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