Peloton contributor James Startt was recently awarded the Gold Medal at the World Sports Press Photography Awards in the View category as well as Special Merit in the overall competition for his photo of the peloton rolling past wind turbines in the 2018 Paris-Nice. The photo was featured in issue 79 of Peloton, the photo annual, along with some more of his work from that year. Below we have included our feature on his work from that issue. Congratulations, James!
How has this last year been for you shooting cycling?
Some of my longterm projects, like emotion behind the finish line or inside the team bus, were not such a focus; but shooting for the PELOTON microsites allowed me to photograph cycling in a different way. I found more pleasure shooting the peloton in a landscape rather than getting in-your-face action shots. I was on a moto for the Tour’s Alpe d’Huez stage, but my favorite image that day came from the climb up the Lacets de Montvernier, not the intense action on the final climb.
What was your most memorable experience this year?
Again, the microsites have been totally different for me; I am totally free, unlike in racing where many, many constraints are placed on you. I loved the shots up and around L’Alpe d’Huez with pearl Izumi, especially on the climb towards Villard-Notre Dame. The little mountain road was about the narrowest I had ever seen, with water gushing down it from the melting snows. Those kinds of shoots have made me more sensitive to atmospheric elements in racing. That came out with the lone rider in the dust of the Roubaix stage…and I loved a shot from paris–Nice for its minimalistic nature. The riders were coming across this road I often ride on outside of paris, but it was almost unrecognizable in the rain and fog of early March….
You’ve been doing this a long time. How much has cycling photography changed?
The move to digital really leveled the playing field. Before, only the biggest agencies had a traveling dark room at the big races, developing prints the same day… that all changed with digital. Today, there are so many independent photographers; and with today’s camera, with its motors and autofocus, it’s getting harder to take a bad picture.
What do you love the most about shooting cycling?
The constant movement and ever-changing background—it’s not confined to a stadium.
Is there an image in your selection that stands out for you?
At Paris-Nice, the day after that minimalistic shot, I got one of my favorite images ever as the peloton passed under a field of wind turbines. I waited in that spot for maybe an hour, and the group was perfectly compact and almost miniature underneath the turbines—which all seemed to be lined up perfectly. I didn’t realize how good that shot was going to be until the peloton came into view and I instantly understood it was a special moment.