The Basement Tapes: Jojo Harper from issue 104 Interview by Tim Schamber with images from Jojo Harper

In issue 104, our 10th annual Photo Annual, we showcased 12 photographers and 1 collector that are at the top of their game in cycling photography. Here’s the extended interviews from Peloton magazine: The Photo Annual.

Jojo Harper.

JOJO HARPER
Girona, Spain

The last time I saw you was in Girona 2020 and shortly thereafter Spain went into lockdown. Overall, how did the roller-coaster year treat you? I remember. It was a few days pre-lockdown! It was pretty brutal in Spain. The police were out in force ready to pounce at any opportunity! We weren’t allowed outside at all; even walking our dog proved tricky. I tried to be productive and learn a language and learn to write, but that lasted about a day. I did manage to document a lot of it with my camera as I took it with me whenever I went shopping. Inside the home, my boyfriend and I became obsessed with the turbo trainer and that was about it! In terms of work, I was lucky. My clients remained loyal and supportive, which was a relief. The first race back was Strade Bianche, which is my favorite race. The heat and the break from racing made it extra special to return to.

The one word I think of when I see your captures is “intimate.” You tend to capture moments that are “atypical,” not the usual capture. Do you agree? I take that as a real compliment, thank you! I don’t want to be seen as a “cycling/sports” photographer; that stuff can be seen on TV and by anyone. I aim to capture intimate images and I never know if I succeed, so thank you. I think working with one team and getting to know them well really helps. They then trust you and allow you to be there for those special moments. I sometimes think I have an “odd” eye as when exiting the press room with other photographers, what I like is often what others don’t like. Do I agree with you? I have no idea; it’s what I aim to do, but judging my own work is something I am not very good at.

Lizzie Deignan (L) and Elisa Longo Borghini (R).

It seems that being embedded with a specific team like the women’s Trek-Segafredo squad is where you feel most at home. What is it about following a team that you love? Getting to know the riders and building relationships. It feels like I am on a race with a group of friends, which makes my job so much easier and more fun.

In issue 96 (Photo Annual), I asked about a sport you’d love to capture more, and you said, “skiing.” Did anything come about that desire? Skiing is my absolute passion! We managed to get away in October for a holiday in Zermatt, Switzerland. When we were there it just so happened that the French ski team were there training. They allowed me access and I had a great time shooting them. I emailed a few ski brands who were actually very interested. That reminds me, I need to follow them up!

You went from the Giro Donne to the Tour de France this year. Is there any shift in mentality for doing that? Stress levels for sure increase at the Tour, especially during a pandemic! There is a lot more going on and it’s not as relaxed. I had my own car so I had to properly plan each evening how I would catch the race. Choices had to be made as I was in the mountains and only one mountain could be shot at each stage. It’s hard. Do I shoot the Tourmalet, an iconic climb, or the finish, Luz-Ardiden? I chose the latter and it didn’t disappoint; those decisions are stressful to make, and I often make the wrong one. The TdF is strict; you do something wrong and you are chucked off the race. I was very aware of this and was constantly unsure if I was allowed to be in a certain place or not. The Giro Donne is a lot more chilled; I felt I could be anywhere and I was never questioned. Both awesome races for different reasons.

Technology keeps evolving in photography. Give us the camera setup you use. Leica q2 (best camera I have ever owned). Leica sl2, 50mm 1.2, Canon 5d iv, 24-70 2.8.

Lucinda Brand (L), Lizzie Deignan (C) and Elisa Longo Borghini (R).

This particular image stands out to me. Talk us through it. When they were all snuggled together my first reaction was, that’s so cute, I have to get that moment. They looked like a group of giggling schoolgirls. Lucinda [Brand] came over the line first; it was a super-hot day and she was very frustrated as she had a puncture and had done the last 10 kilometers of the race with it. She still sprinted, but she was totally cooked and for sure the flat tire didn’t help! Lizzie [Deignan] and Elisa [Longo Borghini] joined her and made her laugh. Spirits were high; it was so nice to see, despite them not getting the result they had hoped for.

CONTACT SHEET
Email: [email protected]
Instagram: @jojoharper_
Website: jojoharper.com

From issue 104. Buy it here.