Adam Perez – Vancouver Metro Jam 2003
Adam was a young rider from Oregon that was picked up by MacNeil. Like a few others, he was blasting this hip all weekend, and to me, this shot sums up the whole vibe of that contest.
“From early 1999 until late 2003, Chase BMX Magazine was a quarterly publication focusing primarily on the Canadian scene. I was fortunate to be the editor for its four year run, and along the way I started taking photos. We had mediocre photo equipment, and possessed little of the skills cut out for it, but what I did have was a lot of talented subjects to shoot with. Chase was published by World Bicycle Sports Incorporated, who also founded Up North BMX Supply, Ten Pack Distribution, MacNeil Bikes, Metro Jam, and the Pivotal seat. At the time, the magazine served as an advertising medium promoting the brands that Ten Pack distributed, while at the same time trying to grow the sport in Canada and abroad. While we printed about 10,000 copies for Canada, 5,000 copies made their way to the US and 1,000 more to the UK. It was a great ride while it lasted. In the late summer of 2003, we decided to fold the magazine and focus our attention more on the other ventures at World Bicycle Sports. I was going to include all of my favourite shots from over the years, both during Chase and post-Chase, but we don’t have enough bandwidth for that. Instead, these shots were all taken from 2000 until early 2004. These were all shot on film, and some of them I cringe when I see the imperfections, whether it’s composition or technical. In the end, it’s a snapshot of a time that I look back upon quite fondly. We were really just a bunch of guys having the time of our lives growing and creating, whether it was history or friendships.” -Ken Paul
Axel Jurgens – Vancouver
Axel Jurgens was an Argentinian rider picked up by MacNeil who ended up spending a few months in the Vancouver area. We went everywhere and he was always up for shooting photos. This image was developed using cross-processing, where one takes slide film and processes it as print film. The result is one of your favourite Instagram filters – the hard way. Have you heard of Eurocamp in Spain? It was started by Axel and his wife Rosario. This was used for a Ten Pack Profile ad in Chase.
Ben McPherson – Burnaby
Not many people could blast out of this bowl at Confederation Park in Burnaby. It was a wacky bowl, but that’s what made it fun. I believe this was the summer of 2003. It was right around the time that Paul Buchanan (RIP) snagged the cover of DIG with a big table out of it. A couple of years later, the bowl was replaced with something much smaller and smoother.
Ben McPherson – Port Coquitlam
There were so many wild sessions that went down at the original Ten Pack warehouse in Port Coquitlam. The dark and rainy nights often brought out the best riding. Ben had this graphite Tuff Wheel on the front for a while (which I’m sure would fetch a pretty good penny on eBay these days). I met Ben’s dad out of the blue while on a photo shoot at a boat manufacturer in Gibsons, BC a few years ago, where I learned Ben had a family and was living in the Yukon.
Chris Cayford – Kelowna
This was at the Ben Lee Skatepark, on an awfully hot Okanagan day. I had never met Chris before, but we chatted it up and shot a few photos. He was such a nice guy. Unfortunately, Chris passed away while snowboarding on Big White during a following winter. For several years, the Okanagan locals past and present held a memorial jam in his memory every March.
Darren Berrecloth – Vancouver Metro Jam 2003
Darren is just one of those guys with such a natural talent for anything athletic. It’s often these types of guys who take things to a whole other level. Full on. This was shortly after getting onto Specialized for his mountain bike freeride skills. Fun fact: the Kerrisdale Arena where the Metro Jams were held hosted legendary bands such as The Clash, the Jam and Motorhead back in the ‘80s.
Dustin Guenther – Merritt, BC
This was near the end of a day trip we did to Kamloops which was a bit of a bust until we stopped here. This never appeared in Chase, it was published in a DIG Photo Annual. I was over the moon to see this shot in Dig. The added bonus of always having Ten Pack riders to shoot with was if we didn’t use the photo in Chase, I would send it off to other magazines.
Dustin Guenther – Burnaby (Igloo)
This was probably shot near the end of 2003 at the infamous Igloo in Burnaby, BC. I think it was used for a wethepeople catalogue. That roof always worked like a big reflector. It often felt like I had won the lottery whenever I rode there, because it was always a special place.
Dustin Guenther – Prince George
It was tough to choose just three photos of Dustin. He was always down to shoot and often had something creative up his sleeve. A real talent who had a lot to show and garnered a lot of respect not only for his riding, but also for his positive attitude. We continued to shoot a lot over the years up until about 2014. Fun fact: I sold Dustin his first real good bike (through his dad) – a Standard back in 1994.
Greg Nicholson – Vancouver
I’m sure every BMXer who rode past these barriers had the same idea. He pulled quite a few of these – landing right on the top of the barrier and riding away. No easy move, especially considering how heavy that bike was. I think this only appeared on the Ten Pack website, but Manu Sanz was with us and shot it from behind, across the street. That shot landed onto the cover of Cream Magazine in France. From a technical perspective, I hate this photo, but for what it is, I love that I was there to witness it.
Greg Nicholson – Whistler
Somehow, we were invited to an informal event in Whistler under the premise to just show up and ride. They gave us accommodations and a meal, so we were quite happy. I absolutely loved watching Greg ride. Look at that hip, and again, on a heavy bike, just blasting. Greg was another Ten Pack rider who I shot a lot with over the years. Today he’s an accomplished tattoo artist: @evilkolors
Jason Enns, Dustin Guenther, Dave Osato – Queen Charlotte Sound
This was at the start of a trip which took us from Vancouver Island up to Prince Rupert. It goes down as one of my most memorable trips of all time. I was worried, as it was the first time I had gone on an important road trip as the sole photographer. There was so much on the line and for these guys to entrust me with what little skill I had in shooting photos was pretty cool. I think this was September of 2002 and we ended up with an 8 page article for Chase.
Jason Enns – Prince George
The park wasn’t finished yet, so we phoned the City and told them about our situation and we’d publish some photos of their park in the magazine. Lo and behold, 20 minutes later, the boys were riding it. A few locals showed up and we had a pretty good session. Before I went on this trip, our senior photographer Josh Root gave me some pointers. “If it’s dark and grey, just shoot Ilford Delta 3200 and don’t worry about the flash.” It worked. Thanks Josh. Fun fact: The two gentlemen in the background were from the City and they asked me twice to tell Jason to put on a helmet. They were not stoked.
Jay Miron – Coquitlam
I shot lots of photos with my point and shoot of Jay back in the ‘80s, but this is the only modern day shot I have of him riding. Jay was so damn good that I was scared to shoot with him because I didn’t want to mess up the shot or the film. When stuff went down, he often said “I’m only doing it once.” Jay would throw down moves that most people today would not attempt. This day, however was different, the sun was in a perfect spot and Jay was casually doing a demo at an AM comp at his home park. I followed him around for a few shots, and then he motioned for me to head over to the quarter. Thank goodness for the Metz CT45 meat mallet flash we had for lighting him up. I love this shot for a few reasons. Mostly because this was a new era for Jay. He had invented dozens of tricks, competed in dozens of contests on the world stage, but as time went on, he just wanted to get better. Like a true journeyman who hones his craft for decades, Jay was putting so much hard work into redefining his style to go smoother and higher. It was so impressive to watch his determination up close. Jay’s a true friend, and without him, Chase would have never happened. Fun fact: Go visit 3Ride in Thunder Bay, you’ll see this blown up nice and big on a backlit display.
Joe Rich – Germany
Joe Rich is another guy who gave me some photo tips for shooting in dark and dirty warehouses. This was at the World’s in Cologne, Germany in 2000. I lugged our camera around mostly shooting from afar, with no flash and little expectations. When I was starting out, it was just easier to shoot black and white. This is classic Joe Rich: a 360 over the spine in the mini-ramp comp. I wish everybody could have experienced the World Championships at some point. They were such a celebration of BMX. Not so fun fact: this was the trip that a banana in my backpack was squished next to the camera. This may or may not be the cause of our focus issues over the years.
Matt Beyers – Ohio
I think this was early 2003, at Chenga 2 at some strip mall in Ohio. It looks like I’m finally starting to get the hang of things. I think we had one radio transmitter and one receiver for our external flashes, and most of the time I also used an optical slave. The flashes were cheap Vivitar 285s that could be knocked around and still blast out some reasonable light when needed. Matt was another guy with just pure talent, a positive attitude and always up for shooting photos. Too bad about the hot spot on his front wheel, but I actually had the nerve to run this as a full page in the mag.
Shoe-G Ueyama – Tokyo
Such a hospitable host, and all-around great guy, Shoe-G really made my first trip to Japan in 2003 a good one. Throngs of commuters were passing by, mindful of our space (and the flashes) which allowed him to session this wall for over an hour. I met so many nice people on this trip, it was hard to pick just one shot, but this one, on the last evening before my flight home is the one. This ran in a few MacNeil ads, and was significant for Shoe-G since it was the first time that a Japanese rider landed a full-page ad in foreign magazines. Total tally for this trip was at least six good photos of Shoe-G that were used for MacNeil.
Simon Barry – Vancouver Metro Jam 2003
I remember Al Mohr on the phone, calling industrial supply yards looking for a “Vancouver Jersey barrier.” He’d say “You know the one, it’s rounded, it doesn’t have the bump at the bottom.” He eventually found one and this became the focal point of the contest. Simon always did his own thing, like running little skateboard wheels on his axles. Fun fact: we rented this entire arena for Metro Jams at roughly $500 per day. We had the run of the place and just couldn’t believe our luck.
Stéphane Royer – Vancouver
Stéph and I shot a lot of photos in downtown Vancouver in late 2003. I can’t remember what we were amassing them all for, perhaps they were for an interview in Dig or Ride UK. I think this one was eventually used for Red Magazine, another Canadian mag by David Hawthorne. Fun fact: the wooden floor he’s riding on was part of Expo 86 and hosted BMX contests, the first Slam City Jam and hundreds of concerts.
Surrey Steve – Vancouver
Not much of a trick, but with the style and the homegrown attitude of it all, I just had to run it as a two-page spread for his Rookies interview. His Rookies was hilarious, and he was responsible for a lot of the DIY spots that were made over the years. Steve and I shot a lot of photos after I left Chase, which allowed me to test things out, as I acquired my own gear and all I had was a 35mm lens. Steve jokingly asked me a couple of years ago if I wanted to go out and shoot. “I’ve got this spot man!” That’s Steve – always hustling, but I think my BMX photo years are over.
Tobias Wicke – Vancouver Metro Jam 2003
Tobias – the German technician. I like to think that people stopped riding front brakes on street because they just couldn’t keep up with Tobias. Yet another one of my faves from the inaugural Vancouver Metro Jam. We were all so happy to finally hold a Metro Jam in Vancouver – to show the BMX community of all the amenities that the region had to offer. People like Tobias were thrilled to come here to ride all the skateparks and street spots.
Travis Collier – Vancouver
I really didn’t think much of this photo at the time, but others did. Thanks to Jeff Zielinski, he published it in Ride. Travis always had a natural eye for what would look good in a photo. It’s no surprise then that he went on to be a skilled illustrator and graphic designer. Nearly 20 years later, this crane is still there at Granville Island and is often a backdrop for fashion and wedding photos.
Travis Collier – Vancouver
One of the many photos Travis and I amassed in early 2004. I think we were gearing up for a magazine interview, but this ended up going to Wethepeople for their catalogue. Shot at the old Vancouver Indy track which was the place to go in Vancouver for riding flatland in the late ‘90s until about 2006 or so.
Wade Lajlar – Port Coquitlam
Another rainy night in the winter and another session in the old Ten Pack warehouse. The composition of this shot makes up for the hot spot on his wheel and arms. I had an old Vivitar 285 on the deck and a halogen lamp on the ground for light. I’m sure it’s the only photo that was taken from the bathroom in the warehouse. That grime you see on the wall? Black mold. Like Wade, visitors to the warehouse included Much Music, MTV, Fox TV, ESPN and the Port Coquitlam Fire Department.
A huge thank you to Ken for allowing us to publish and share these legendary Canadian BMX photos.
Check out more amazing BMX and other photography on Ken’s site: