Perhaps the most serendipitous happening when creating our women’s edition of Cycling Weekly magazine was finding a GB squad rider who is a natural behind the lens
When guest editor Elinor Barker suggested her idea for what became the Making Racing Happen article, we hit upon an instant problem. The feature was about the women behind the riders, teams and the sport as a whole.
‘Great’, we said. ‘If we can get pictures’. The problem with the people behind the riders is that more often than not the cameras are pointed at the riders, not the people behind them. So we have to source or commission images to illustrate the feature.
In normal times we’d make arrangements and send a photographer to get the shots we need. This simply isn’t possible during a national lockdown. “That’s okay,” said Elinor as we discussed it on one of the zoom meetings we had while putting this issue together. “I know someone on the team who can do it. She’s in our training bubble”
She recommended sprinter Sophie Capewell. A GB squad rider who has a love of photography. At first we were a little sceptical. It’s one thing liking photography and having an Instagram feed, it’s another having the equipment and ability to take professional standard photos to a commission.
A quick look at Capewell’s Instagram feed – you can find her at @sophie_capewell_photography and @sophiecapewell – proved she had a good eye for a photo, so we thought why not? She promptly sent us a set of portrait photography of Elinor, coach Monica Greenwood and biomechanist Dr Deborah Newton that was more than good enough for publication. It’s more than a little impressive that a 22-year-old full time bike rider with no photography training was able to take such good images, so we had to find out a little more about her.
“With cycling we get to travel a lot and I remember I got the chance to go to Montechiara in Italy.” She explained. “It was my first long training camp abroad, and I wanted to capture the moment. I begged my parents to let me take their camera with me.”
“All I remember is it was a Nikon D SLR. They’d had it for nearly ten years. I went through the pictures on it and they were of me and my sister when we started racing ten years ago. ‘So you’re not using it anymore then!’” I said.
“I really enjoyed it. We have a nice group of riders on the squad so I messed around with it and took photos to remember the trip. Those memories are there forever. That kick started it and I got a bit of a bug for it then. I started taking my camera away and when I wasn’t racing I was in the stands taking pics of everyone else.”
She bought herself a Nikon Z6 and is slowly building up a collection of camera kit. “I’m getting known for it now [on the squad], so I give them a bit of warning if I bring my camera.”
Capewell has no formal training but has asked lots of photographers – singling out Alex Whitehead from SWpix.com as one of her favourites – watched videos online and read up on techniques. “I really like capturing people, so I mainly take portraits and a bit of sport.”
“I don’t do any photography at the bigger competitions as they’re too important. But at the smaller ones in the year, I’ll definitely be taking my camera.”