The Crankworx Deep Summer photography challenge is known as a particularly elite event in the world of action sports photography.
So how did contestant Daniel Ronnback prepare?
“I didn’t,” the Stockholm-based photographer said.
Although he had gathered a crew of fellow Swedes to hit the local trails throughout the three days of shooting allowed under competition rules, “Team Sweden” didn’t exactly go according to plan.
“On the day it started, they said they weren’t on the team anymore, so they kind of bailed on me. They just felt like they didn’t have time to do it… So on the first day, I didn’t have any bike riders,” Ronnback explained.
Without a plan or athletes to shoot, he headed to the toy store and dropped $300 on miniature animal figurines. “That’s normally how things go with me, I just come up with things,” he explained.
Somehow, everything fell into place. Ronnback’s slideshow “Jungle Fever” impressed the judging panel enough to earn him the top spot, as well as the $5,000 prize and Bonny Makarewicz trophy that accompanies the winning title. It was a triumphant return to the resort for Ronnback, who also participated in the World Ski and Snowboard Festival’s Pro Photographer Showdown in April.
“It actually doesn’t feel good (to win) because now I’ve got to spend it on booze,” he said with a laugh following the win, shortly after being soaked in celebratory champagne by a crewmate.
Ronnback used the figurines to create silhouettes, often set against the big views Whistler’s known for, for one creative take on mountain bike photography. He was eventually able to wrangle in a few human riders as well (Andrew Bradley, Matty Richard, Martin Soderstrom, Kenny Smith, Quinn Hanley, Abi Carver, Josh Hall and Max Frederiksson) who shared a frame with lions, bears, moose, giraffes, sharks, penguins and crocodiles, all set to an mellow acoustic tune.
Ronnback’s show also featured the very real and very cute Dazy the dog, who was captured relaxing on a paddleboard and chasing bike tires down a trail, as well as a few classic trail shots, camping scenes and alpine action, thanks to a heli drop on Rainbow Mountain.
The first slideshow of the night, it was also a hit amongst the substantial crowd that had gathered in Whistler Olympic Plaza and sprawled out on blankets to take in the show.
“I have to give it up to Daniel,” said pro mountain biker Martin Söderström, who participated in Ronnback’s show. “I feel like we are all a bit surprised because Daniel basically did all of this by himself. We did not help him one bit but he’s been absolutely killing it.”
Competing photographers were judged on theme, overall impression and the quality of images that they managed to include in their five minute slideshows.
Revelstoke’s Steve Shannon took second place with his action-packed trail shots and stunning alpine landscapes, while Jb Liautard of Lyon, France earned third place with some epic evening shots. Whistler-based Deep Summer veteran Ollie Jones, Montreal’s Julien Grimard, and wildcard photographer Satchel Cronk, from California, rounded out the challenge.