We love hanging out with bike to ride through inhospitable roads, enjoy the landscape, solitude and this great sport of cycling.
The portraits of some photographers are sometimes able to capture many of those feelings and Marshall Kappel (@marshallkappel) is one of them. His pictures manage to convey many of the values of cycling: effort, sacrifice, pain, joy, fun…
We invite you to know a little more to this great photographer through this interview and if it happens that you are in New York between March 26 and April 19, you do not waste the opportunity and go visit his exhibition at the Rapha Cycle Club NY, worth it much.
Who is Marshall Kappel?
I am a lifestyle and sports culture photographer. I take pictures of sports and, mostly… cycling. I’ve been a cyclist and photographer since a very young age, but never put both passions together until recently. I previously worked as a creative director for big fashion and beauty companies.
How did you get started in the world of photography?
Like many photographers, my father gave me my first camera, an Argus twin-lens, when I was about 10 years old; I was already into racing BMX at the time. I started to take photography more seriously… or at least consciously shooting… when I went to high school in Arizona. I started experimenting with different cameras and shooting all the beautiful girls in my class and here I am many years later!
How has been your evolution with the photo? Tell us about your beginnings and how did you end up choosing cycling as the main target.
As a creative director in image-driven industries, I’ve always been working with photography and telling stories with images… my turn towards cycling photography started quite without purpose… I was in Liège watching Simons Gerrans win and Dan Martin crash… cheering along with camera and beer in-hand. As I edited my photos on the train back to Paris that evening, something in the mix of the immediacy, physicality, and drama of the race, as well as the simple, melancholic beauty of the finish in Ans, hit me. The next day, I deleted my old art/fashion website and started posting cycling images. I feel really fortunate to have a job that allows me to shoot, travel and cycle around the world, meet and work with amazing people.
What type of photography defines your style?
I consider my style reportage/lifestyle. I gravitate towards people and faces, rather than vistas and you will not find the standard hands-raised victory shot in my work. I tend to look around, be anonymous and capture the totality of my experience in a place, at an event, within a culture… I still love action and gritty faces, but I also like showing the process and progression of time that happens when people gather for a race… My best friend says, “Marshall is the best photographer for capturing people hanging out.” I like to think I’m natural, discrete, quiet and not really there.
You have been living between New York and Paris. How have you been these years?
As the son of an anthropologist, I’ve moved around frequently. I consider Paris home, but after many years previously in NYC for work, I am there a lot… to be honest I get bored, restless and anxious if I’m in one place too long… I know it’s not normal, but I just like being on the move. I can’t say I’m looking for adventure purposely, but rather, it seems that I want to find what I really want.
In your work you must travel a lot, what has been the journey or experience you remember most fondly?
Every time I go to Spain something awesome happens… I love the combination of people, food, language, culture, weather and cycling. I sort-of grew up in Mexico so maybe there is some connection there… I love being near the sea and mountains… obviously, Barcelona has it all and I should probably just move there!
What cycling discipline is your favorite? And Why?
Personally, I love road racing. Specifically, stage races. I love watching the people personalities, emotions, winners and losers… rise and fall, come and go… each day feeling new and hopeful no matter what’s happened the day before. The Grand Tours really allow for this intensive experience… What I love about cycling in general, is also what I love about stage races… it moves and changes, never static, there is always someplace new to go and something new to see… never looking back, always moving forward.
You have been present in several fixed gear crits, what do you think of this new modality of urban cycling competition?
Although I love stage races, what I find fascinating about crits is the intense culture that surrounds the events, the bikes, the people and the relationships that cross countries and languages around a bicycle… I love seeing the inventiveness of people using the time and space they have to ensure that the race goes on.
How was your visit to Barcelona during RHC?
I was actually in the midst of shooting the Vuelta when I decided to head to Barcelona for the RedHook Crit last year. I got in contact with David Trimble and got the details on shooting at the race and showed up just in time for all the smiles, beer, food and racing through the night. The city is always gorgeous, confident and colorful. I’m no expert, but I’ve eaten at Ciudad Condal and Boca Grande a few times and can’t wait to get back for more.
A phrase that represents your passion for cycling.
“A moveable feast…” – Hemingway
My family for being crazy. Manhattan Ministorage and Une-Pièce-en-Plus for allowing me to never settle down despite my tendency to collect cameras and bikes.