David Markman made a shift from racing to photographing gravel races, ultras, and other competitive events. His photos capture grass roots community and cyclists fighting through their hardest hills. In this interview, we talk about his background and what the heck was up with that crapper.
To view more of David's photography, visit his adventure photography website or check him out on Instagram.
What makes you interested in photographing bike races and ultras
I’ve raced cycling and ultra events for many years, and I’m a strong believer of giving back.
My focus shifted after racing the tour divide in 2016.
I was really burnt out of all things bikes. When you trained as much as I did to overcome such a wild race as the divide you end up eating, sleeping and living on your bike.
I had lost touch with why I got into cycling in the first place, I had lost touch with friends and family.
I needed to take a break from bikes but I loved the community I had become a part of. So I decided to pick up a camera a start photographing small events, it really just grew from there.
I still ride bikes but now it’s at a dad pace with my girls. Maybe one day I’ll get back into ultras.
You've photographed a zillion races. What's your favorite and why?
I don’t know if I have a favorite they are all so unique and I enjoy every one. I enjoy working with races that still have a grass roots feel because that’s what got my into ultras.
It wasn’t big events with aero helmets and a call up for all the pros who were going to destroy the field.
It was guys in jean shorts and sleeveless flannel who would stop mid race and enjoy the place they were in and probably pass around a malty beverage.
These are the kind of events I can be the story teller. I can bounce around and find outstanding spots to capture the blood, sweat and tears. Typically it will be at the top of every hill or at the end of the muddiest road.
I saw a great photo of you wearing Crocs on a toilet in the middle of a gravel road. What's the story there?
Haha yeah that’s a good one. I’m a part of an event called the filthy 50.
As a part of that we have this unspoken option for racers to “catch the crapper”. We put a toilet on course near the end of the race and people can sit on it and get their photo taken.
There are always snacks and beverages there but it gives people the motivation to keep going.
If you’ve made it to the crapper then you can finish the race. I ended up photographing the crapper last year and needed some test shots so I photographed myself. Not too often I can post a photo of myself on the toilet.
Do you bike? If so, what bike and where do you love to ride?
Like I said I still ride but not as fast or as much as I used to. Family pace is good for now, I like watching the kids figure it out.
Hopefully they will want to race when they get older. I wish high school bike programs were a thing when I was in school.
Oh my Nikon D850 for sure, it is a beast of a camera-but I rarely use it for events other than headshots before the race. I have two Nikon D7200 that have been my work horse event cameras from day one. They both have over half a million shutter clicks. I have put them through rain, snow, mud, drops, basically the ringer and they keep up with me.
I don’t mind shooting with older equipment as long as I have good glass. I put all of my money into my lenses.