Conceptual Contrast / by Stefaan Conrad

Through the process of photographing the sports and locations for Recalibrate, I only felt conflicted about one shoot. This conflict was born out of a concern I had for the adherence to the conceptual narrative of my book.

Let me explain.

For a long time, I was scouting and planning a road biking shoot on Mount Tamalpais. All the while, in the back of my mind, I kept worrying that the presence of a road would somehow pervert the purity of the nature found in the other photoshoots. This thought kept making this future road biking shoot stick out in my mind as a shoot that wouldn’t fit in with the rest.

Well, I shot it anyway.

My friend, Matthew, and I rode the ridge of the North Bay mountain on a calm Friday afternoon. The weather was perfect and the company even better. During the early part of the ride, my mind kept going back to how I would shoot this location with the same message as the rest of the book. Yes, we were riding on a road and yes, there was the occasional car passing us by and hikers scattered throughout the fields, but it didn’t take long for me to realize that my worries had been unfounded. After vista upon vista of unobstructed roadside panoramas and pristine clearings of emerald green grass, I began to realize what characterized my message.

There are a plethora of paths that we humans can take to find a transformative experience in nature. It can happen anywhere, anytime, with anyone, any way, or any weather. I found my concerns of the road being drowned out by the awe I felt from the jaw dropping beauty we were surrounded by, the burning in my legs as they churned up the hills, and the realization that another person was sharing those same inspiring emotions.

Sure, my pictures from this excursion show evidence of human activity leaving irreversible changes to the landscape. My pictures also show an individual using what was available to him to be emotionally moved by doing something they love in a landscape so unique. That’s what Recalibrate is really about; connections, emotions, respect, and love of what we do.