A presentation of our top photographers
FOCUS stands for a great passion for cycling, which is not only reflected in our bikes. We also want to convey this passion in our catalogues, especially in the pictures we use in them. That is why we have been on the search for photographers who not only have a passion for photography but also for cycling. And instead of finding just one photographer, we found a photographer couple: Ashley Norris Gruber and Jered Gruber (gruberimages.pro). Born in the USA, the couple spends the majority of the year out and about in the European racing world, as well as on their own racing bikes, shooting spectacular and unique photos.
Their first project for FOCUS was a photo shoot for the 2013 catalogues 'Road' and 'Off-Road'. With the resulting pictures, we were able to achieve our goal of using imagery to demonstrate our passion, as well as the connection with nature that cycling offers - whether on the road or on a trail.
In the months to come, Ashley and Jered will introduce and describe their favourite passes in this new News column "Grubers' on FOCUS". Of course, these introductions will be accompanied by impressive photos. The GPS data will be attached, so that the routes introduced can be explored by anyone interested.
Which kind of FOCUS are you both actually riding and why do you like it?
For 2013, Ashley and I will be riding the new Izalco Team SL. We were both big fans of last year's Izalco Team 1.0, so it wasn't a hard choice to stay with the Izalco. It becomes even more intriguing when you consider that it's basically the same frame, but with an entirely new lay-up, which allowed it to lose around 300 grams. Super impressive. Last year's Izalco provided a really nice ride - uphill, downhill, cornering, sprinting, cobbles, dirt, mud - it was great on everything we threw at it - and there was nothing that it didn't see. I can't imagine that it won't be even better for 2013.
On the photography side - very few bikes that we've gotten to ride photograph better than a FOCUS. FOCUS's unique logo placement on the down tube is a dream for shooting. I know it sounds silly, but it's something you notice when you take pictures a lot.
What does the partnership with FOCUS mean to you?
For us, the FOCUS partnership means freedom. FOCUS wants us to get out on our bikes and ride. They want to see great images and stories from us, and to get that, we need to ride our bikes. For me, that means the world. I know work is important, and we take it very seriously, but a huge part of our creative process involves riding bikes. I don't think we'd be half as good if we didn't spend so much time on our bikes. I love shooting cycling, but that love is fueled by riding bikes, exploring, and always trying to find the next gorgeous spot where you look over your shoulder and think - is this real?
It means a lot to have a brand like FOCUS behind us like this. It's motivating, because I feel like what we're doing is being met with the ultimate approval. With that though comes a certain pressure of sorts - we feel like we have to keep on getting better and better. We have so much room to improve, and on this platform, we hope to be able to continue to grow, both with words, images, and maybe even some video.
Last year you did the photo shooting for the both FOCUS brochures. It was the first time you were shooting Mountainbikes - what was special about that?
Just being around mountain bikes was magical. We've mainly focused on the road so far, but that hasn't been for a lack of a desire to go off-road. It has been more a question of practicality - we only have space for two bikes in our car, so we always stuck with road bikes. For 2013, we really hope to get off road a lot more and explore. The 2012 mountain bike catalog shoot was a lot of fun, but I'm certain we can do something even better with some more exploring and research...which means riding!
It's one of those things that hits you immediately when you don't ride mountain bikes much - it's amazing. Whenever I ride a mountain bike, the first thing I think is - why don't I do this more often? I spend so much time trying to find amazing paved roads, but it's 1000 times easier if you get on a mountain bike and head into the hills. Single track is incredible, but I'm just as happy on small, beaten up dirt roads. There's one 'road' just outside of Feltre, Italy that goes up to this hut. It has these amazing switchbacks built into the mountainside with a road barely a meter wide. Each time we hike up there, I think - I will come back up here soon, and it will be on a mountain bike.
Mountain biking is an absolutely amazing way to explore the world. I think exploring is probably our favorite part of what we do, and on a mountain bike, we can take that to an entirely new level. Plus, we love the mountains, and there's no better way to get that mountain feeling than a lone rider on a beautiful piece of singletrack, far, far removed from roads, cars, and humans.
You did a lot of passes in the last years - which is the special one you are planning to climb this year?
We had a great shoot on the Stelvio last fall, but our whole goal of that shoot was actually to focus on the Gavia. I think the Stelvio is great, but for me, the Gavia is one of the finest pieces of road I've ever seen. I rode it once soon after I picked up riding bikes, way back in 2004. I did the Mortirolo and Gavia and fell completely in love with the tiny, winding, steep eastern side of the Gavia that day. It's special. I've wanted to do it again for almost ten years now.
Apart from the Gavia, we'd like to explore the mountains of central Switzerland. I've seen some incredible roads in the area around Luzern. There's also France. We've done next to nothing in France. And far eastern Italy - Friuli, specifically. Don't forget Slovenia. I've also just hit on Hawaii - we'd really like to spend some time exploring the big mountains there, as well as the amazing roads of Maui. Our list of places to ride is already pages long - and it grows by the week. For the moment, I'm trying to keep our attention focused on Europe and the US, but it's only a matter of time before we start branching out. I just don't want to miss out on all that is incredible in the two 'places' we spend the most time, because something looks more exotic in Asia or New Zealand, or wherever.
In the next months you will publish articles incl. pictures of your favorite climbs you allready did for all FOCUS fans. What can they expect in these articles?
Exploring. We hope to take you along with us on our travels. We'll bounce around over a good chunk of Europe during the racing season, and we plan on taking a lot of pictures.
We'll hit on some of our old favorites (like Innsbruck and Flanders), but we also hope to try out some new places - like Switzerland, Friuli, Slovenia, Bolzano and more. We'll also be chasing some of cycling's biggest races again, so we'll follow in the footsteps of the greats and take a closer look at some of sport's iconic climbs, cobbles, and locations.