In this day and age every monkey has a digital camera and can fill up Facebook album after Facebook album of binary bollocks. So it was about bloody time that an actual monkey started shooting photographs. No doubt this week you have giggled and guffawed at the cheeky macaque monkey that took a wonderful photo of itself. But surely it begs the question that if a creature, who probably throws its own brown eggs around for fun and probably doesn’t even have a Twitter account, can take a photo that good then what is the point of the art and trade of photography? Well, the difference is luck. I am willing to bet a date with a rhino that that monkey couldn’t cross process some Ilford 500 film without mouth boinking a frog, let alone produce and compile a five minute slideshow of great photographs. Anybody can get lucky with a shot but it takes exceptional photographers to be able to compile five minutes worth of top quality photographs; I’m talking full page spreads printed on decent stock quality not POD shite. Well, that’s the challenge that is ahead of our five professional photographers here in Åre, Sweden (note the little round top on the A. Thanks to y’all that wrote in with advice on how to find it). Last night they finished shooting and today they’ve all been locked away in dark rooms editing (not the Ilford 500 kind) whilst Åre was being bathed in sunshine and summer heat all day.

For three days the five teams have been doing 12 hour days in the mountains trying to get all the “nuggs” and “bangers”, as well as arty lifestyle shots, that will help them put together a five minute slideshow. There has been a variety of approaches to it judging from what I’ve seen. Some have made a plan and stuck to it, while other teams have used the age old wild and lively approach. I’ve been scooting around the mountain to try to get a behind the scenes look at the creation of the slideshows. By Wednesday night all the teams and shooters looked absolutely exhausted (except maybe the shooter and rider that looked positively lively as they propped up Dahlboums bar until they were kicked out at closing time). Three days might not seem much, and to many people shooting photographs sounds like an easy gig, but the thirty yard stare and disheveled appearance of many teams says otherwise. If you spoke to any of these riders right now and dared utter the words, “one more time please” you may end up getting a kick in the shins with a flooded gumboot.

The accompanying photographs are behind the scenes images of Mattias Fredriksson’s Team Scanada. Mattias Fredriksson is a wizard who doesn’t leave things to chance. I’m pretty sure he has been planning and plotting his show carefully for a little while. Mattias is at the top of the photography game and has experience of the photo challenge’s format (he won the first Whistler Crankworx Deep Summer Photo Challenge in 2009) so I’m intrigued to see what he’s got.

As you can see from the photos, Mattias likes to combine photography with a game of good old fashioned hide and seek and wash it down with some yoga. When I saw him yesterday he looked very happy and lively so that must mean he has ticked all the boxes in his to-do list.

Markus Gerber had his remote controlled helicopter camera flown in for the competition. When the weather was good he had his camera buzzing above some of the trails and I am very intrigued to see what this tool can bring to the table. The helicopter has a Sony NEX camera mounted underneath it and Markus controls all the vital camera functions from the ground using a large remote control master desk that has a screen showing what the camera is seeing in real time. Even more impressive is that the helicopter flys itself. Once Markus has found the spot for the helicopter he ‘parks’ it in the air and it keeps itself in that spot using GPS.

I really haven’t been able to catch up with Team Norway at all. They are a mysterious bunch that have kept a very low key to the days shooting, which I figure must mean they were too busy working up on the mountains. I am intrigued to see what they have for sure.


Camilla Stoddart has been trying to buy my vote by giving me beer and inviting me to join the rest of her team in the sauna but I laid down the law and told her I couldn’t be bought. However, I’m not one to look a gift horse in the mouth especially when it comes in a 500ml can. Camilla says she is really nervous but I think that has been good because she will no doubt present a beautiful show come Friday night. One of the other photographers, Grant Robinson, came up to her and acted all fan boy because he is huge fan of her work. Talking of Grant Robinson, he has named his team Monkey and the Woos which brings us full circle to the start of this story.


Tomorrow at 1pm all five teams have to hand in their completed slideshows. I have a feeling there will be some frantic last minute edits happening as late as 12:30 and there will also be some sighs of relief. However, the nerves will start a fresh at 8:30pm when the hall will start filling up with the audience and the public showing begins. If you are near Åre then please drop in for a full night of entertainment.

Photos by Jonas Kullman


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