Throughout Hailey Elise’s career in mountain biking, her riding and creativity have gone hand in hand. An accomplished photographer and freerider, every ride down a trail is influenced by both sides, creating a constant feedback loop improving her riding and photographic skillsets. Choosing where to put her time can be a challenging balance, but one that Hailey embraces wholeheartedly.
“Knowing what I’m looking for in photos has helped my riding continue to grow,” says Hailey. “There’s a lot of instant feedback when you’re shooting photos and videos as an athlete. There’s a lot of creativity that comes with biking, like how you look at a trail and its features. But I’ll feel it when I need a creative outlet, and that means heading out in the field to push my photography.”
The last few years have seen a rapid increase in both number and skill level of female freeriders and racers, but it’s also come with more female creatives documenting that rise.
“At Formation, there was a huge number of female creatives; photographers, videographers, media specialists… On top of all the amazing women athletes, it was wild to see such a meeting of the minds in one place,” she says. “There’s growth in the right direction but working hard to getting a toehold in the industry is still not without its barriers. If you want to succeed in the mountain bike industry, representation is crucial. You need to see people—like you—getting the opportunities and being recognized for their work.”
Hailey heads into 2023 once again under Marzocchi’s banner, so we took a look at some photos from her recent projects and why she considers them special. The season ratchets up soon, so clean up that drivetrain and get inspired for a big year.
This is Louise Ferguson at 2022 Formation hitting a feature straight after sizable fall line double drop. The desert is actually kind of challenging to get creative in during an event setting. It’s a bit of a test to capture the athletes at the pinnacle moment of their run, but also try to do shoot something different with an artistic component to it. The whole experience was incredible and I formed some phenomenal relationships with everyone from athletes, to event organizers to other media from the action sports world.
This was a trip to Powell River, BC for Toyota. Something near and dear to my heart is the adventure aspect; going further and deeper and lining that up with the ability ride new places. I love capturing moments like these that just make you feel so alive.
This is Cami Nogueira at Dark Horse Invitational last summer. Dark Horse was another incredible event of women coming together, pushing each other, and pushing themselves. They made sure there were plenty of younger riders participating and you could see the evolution of the sport in front of your eyes. Seeing other girls in action, trying new things and getting stylish in the air at a grass root event like this was so inspiring, for everyone there.
My friend Kaz Yamamura took this shot the other day. I hadn’t shot biking in a little while and it’s still the middle of winter in Whistler, so during the last snowstorm I called up a bunch of my buddies and we just found a spot in town to set up a bunch of lights and messed around a for a few hours. Five of us shot a bunch of ski photos and we took some portraits, basically just an impromptu jam session to make some art. On my way home from that session I felt so fired up again. Doing a different sport, and shooting it, can feel like a massage for your brain sometimes.
“This was a few weeks ago in Squamish before the last dump of snow. Biking has been on hold a bit this winter so Ollie (Jones), Mikayla (Gatto) and I jumped on the first chance to head out and make some content. We just went out with a camera bag with the intention to ride and see what happened. For the people I hang out with, going out, riding and shooting is where the soul is. It felt so good to get back on the bike, play around on some trail features and make them your own.”
Last summer I joined the “I Only Ride Park Tour” with the crew from Mahalo My Dude. Not only was it an opportunity to go ride a bunch of awesome bike parks with awesome people, I was also surrounded by a crew of passionate creatives. It was like an intensive summer camp of bikes of cameras trying to capture what makes these BC bike parks so great. This shot was from Big White when the dirt was blowing up. If you go through my Instagram, you can see a video of me and my camera getting destroyed by this wave.
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