Some Things Last a Long Time

It's easy to lose sight of how long something can last in our world. Most things I buy won't be in my life a few years from now. I took a photo of this Herbrand wrench in Cameron Falconer's custom bicycle workshop in the Bayshore area of San Francisco. Just about everything in his shop, and also what comes out of his shop, are meant to last a very long time. I photograph many custom bike builders because I learn about permanence from them. The time I spend in their work spaces is informative. Watching the brazing and welding processes are interesting and they look magical in photos but all around there is evidence of permanence and I want to soak this up and share it too. The evidence is physical. The wrench. The evidence is behavioral. The builder's process.

In the shop. The Herbrand wrench sticks with me. I don't recognize the brand. It looks old. I think it is not used anymore. Then I think it is still used. I wonder about how it was made and how tools are made today. I know Cameron's process is slow. I know I can get lost in the possible histories of this wrench without missing the next spectacular step in his process. I hang out. I watch him. I think about wrenches. I want him to use the wrench but won't ask him to. The light in his shop is green from the fluorescent lights. I think about cross-processing and wish I had some positive film with me to try in this space. I talk to Cameron for a few minutes about cyclocross, which we both love, about how the really good race courses are disappearing. I see a very small, unique within custom builder circles, brazing torch and take a photo of it. Cameron sees this and points out that it's not his. I must credit it to Matt Feeney, he says, of Pass & Stow racks whom he shares the space with. This is Cam's way. Truth. No claiming. I like his honesty. His honesty sticks with me. I finish a roll of film. I think I'm done. I leave. I think more about the wrench. I think about Cam's way. A long time later I research the wrench and how it was made.
Falconer's Herbrand


My Brother

My brother makes surfboards. Check them out (((here))). We are brothers, so you know, we get along some of the time. I grew up surfing until mountain bikes rolled into my life. My brother is all-in, though. I don't know what he'd be without it. It's strange to see something personal to you and your family go from an outsider thing to some kind of iconic all-American activity pimped out by fashion and pop cultures. My brother just does his thing in his own way. I've never seen him do anything hip. He likes country & western music. He makes short boards and SUPs, nothing retro or trendy. He makes boards in his "factory." He doesn't call it a shop. He doesn't romanticize the handmade aspect of his work. I respect that his way is rough and not flowery--his website says "surfboards for surfers." In my work I've written copy for ad agencies, I've strategized campaigns, I've photographed those campaigns, all with the intent of delivering a clear and controlled, highly developed and timely message in an aesthetically on-point style. In contrast almost all aspects of my brother's business irks me on some stylistic level, but regardless he's doing just fine and has had a successful business for 20+ years. He's my brother and I get to have him as he is, bad music and all. This photo I made in his backyard with a board he made for himself. I had my Nikon 35ti on me so i made a few quick photos before I left.
David Vernor


What's Up

After the Finding Strong release last month I answered some questions from The Athletic about filmmaking, photo making, how the subject of running came into my consciousness and how I think about documenting sports;
"...I’ve always been surrounded by these things that aren’t really sports, but more like happenings, communities, expressions of life, or a lifestyle for lack of better words. I’ve always looked at cycling that way. Me and my friends riding are as important as any professional scene. I applied that thinking to running and thought I’d want to make some films about non-famous people running for the joy of it, the need for it, and as expression of their lives."
Check it out (((HERE))).



FUN party at LOST WEEKEND NYC last night for the premiere of MIDNIGHT HALF. Full release coming soon.


Lost is the Best Place for Photos

A little while back I worked with my tight bro and talented illustrator Chris McNally, on a catalog project for Blackburn Designs. We planned a bike tour in Northern California, along the Lost Coast, and in the Mendocino National Forest, and dubbed it #behindtheredwoodcurtain (a reference to living in the deep North Cal. that my friends and I used to say when we were in School at Humboldt State University). These photos are outtakes, but a glimpse of the trip and how we worked.

I carried my cameras on the bike. Spare lenses, memory cards, batteries, were in this very small Poler Camping Stuff beer/camera cooler, while all my camp gear was in the Blackburn front panniers:
We started out pretty clean and stylish, with some good sock game:
Chris would stop throughout the day and scribble in his book, usually making rough drawings for reference, which would be re-done later for the book we're working on:
Brand Managers hate having their photo taken and you know if you can see his face they'll never use the shot!:
But maybe if you can't tell who he is they will?:
It wasn't always fun, but you know, pushing bikes through snow as it's getting dark is a reasonable cause for worry:
Yep, after dark, looking at maps. Good sign that you're lost:
Getting lost is part of the plan. Chris and I planned our route in advance but the whole idea was to really use the gear we were hired to document, and end up in places you can't predict, no matter how much time you spend on google earth. There are so many beautiful spots to discover, and when you're on a bike trip you might end up sleeping right next to the ocean, like this spot:
No bridges in the wilderness:
There's a really nice catalog/book coming out for Blackburn's 2015 line of gear. Chris and I are both happy with the finished project. I'll have to hold off on the rest of the details until Blackburn releases everything in the Fall, but they are already dropping some photo and illustration gems on their instagram. Also, Chris and I are making another small book out of the project. More details to come...


What Happens When Half a Rivalry is Gone?

Anyone who knows me, my photography and films well, knows cyclocross has been a regular and central inspiration. For the past ten years I've made films and photographed cyclocross across the US, in Spain, Belgium, Holland, and Japan. For a large part of those years it has been a great pleasure to watch the regular and dogged battling between two greats of the sport; Niels Albert and Sven Nys. For most fans I think that a rivalry is a necessary part of sport. Two athletes with differing or opposing personalities, ride styles, swagger, and speech, but who on most occasions are the nearest equals in their sport--The rivalry of Albert and Nys has been all of that. Today was a sad day for the sport, and for an unfinished rivalry. Due to a rare heart condition Niels Albert has abruptly quit professional cyclocross. I loved that the rivalry of Albert and Nys was between two athletes who chose cyclocross. They both undoubtably could have made the switch to higher profile professional road cycling. But they stuck with their hearts and raced cyclocross. It is not every era that has such a perfect rivalry, and it will be sad to see the end of Nys' career (he's near it now) without the fire of the younger Albert hot to impose dominance. It's a missed story, missed drama, an overarching theme which for us fans ties together the weekly battles. With great respect and understanding, the fans will wish Albert good health and a long life, and we will miss his beautiful performances on the parcours.
Niels Albert
The newly awarded World Champion Niels Albert leads Sven Nys during Krawatencross. Lille, Belgium. 2012.