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Photographer Profile: Drew Coleman

From issue 96 • The Photo Annual

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When did you start shooting professionally? I was in Dallas to do a screening of a film I had produced, and a rider in the film was there for a Resolution CX Cup and asked me to cover her. I got paid $100. It was supposed to be $100 per day, but my first day’s images were not up to par and I felt I couldn’t ask for the money.

Who have been your photography influencers? I have always studied street photographers such as Donato DiCamillo, Bruce Gilden and William Klein, and photojournalists like James Nachtwey. The images I am drawn to, even those in war, are portraits captured in natural light. As for influences in cycling, I go to the images of Jered and Ashley Gruber, Daghan Perker, Kristof Ramon, Meg McMahon and Bruce Buckley.

What is it about cyclocross that appeals to your artistic senses? The joy, suffering and community. And, of course, there is the intimacy of the sport. You get to see a rider up close, right at the tape, many times a lap, and the truth of the race is right there in the riders’ faces. My upcoming book of cyclocross takes a deep dive into all of these things.

Drew Coleman ||| Portland, Oregon

Has the Covid-19 pandemic affected the way you see the world? I had a lot of contracts cancelled that would have taken me all over Canada this summer and to Belgium in the fall. So, I’ve had to adapt and try new forms of photography. I have been learning the demands of landscape, photojournalism, street, portrait and product photography. I will emerge from these times a far better photographer.

What camera and lenses do you love? I shoot primarily with the Sony A9 and Sony A7R3. Typically, I shoot wide angle with the GMaster 24mm f1.4 or the Sony Zeiss 35mm f1.4, but the single most-used lens is the GMaster 85mm f1.4…and I do break out the 16–35mm and the 70–200mm from time to time. In portrait work I use a Fujifilm GFX50S with the GF110mm f2, and for street I use a Leica Q2 with a fixed 28mm f1.7 lens.

You also shoot a lot of video. Is the approach different between the two? I prefer stills. Photography the way I like to do it is thinking and moving and looking and reframing and hunting and hoping. Video is about planning and patience and being smooth and calm rather than chasing the action. It’s also gear-intensive. But when you get it, there’s poetry about it.

Where is your favorite place to shoot photos and why? At a criterium or cyclocross race. In this environment, so many types of photography come together: street, portrait, landscape, photojournalism. You have to hustle from position to position to maximize opportunities; I enjoy the physicality of shooting like that.

Name a sport that you haven’t shot that you would like to shoot? I’d like to shoot skiing and snowboarding. I grew up as a skier, raced a bit and did a lot of skiing out of bounds when I was at Colorado State. It has many of the elements I like about photography.

Instagram: @dcmh

From issue 96. Buy it here.