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When your subjects move fast, it’s important that you can too – so in order to capture his action-filled images, photographer Adam Swords needs his camera kit to come along for the ride...
As a child, photographer Adam Swords loved mountain bikes and used to ride with a group of friends at weekends. “When I was in my teens I picked up a basic point-and-shoot camera with a zoom and started photographing my friends on their bikes,” he explains. “As we got older and the jumps grew bigger, it soon became apparent that my talent was on the safe side of the lens!”
Now specialising in ‘Active Lifestyle’, Adam’s repertoire includes action sports, cars, motorcycles and environmental portraits – all of which require him to be on his feet, shooting in unfamiliar locations. It’s essential that his kit is close at hand at all times. However, this can be difficult to manage. “When we’re shooting action sports it’s just not possible to have a load of bags and equipment to lug around,” Adam says. “When shooting mountain bikes I’ll often be riding between locations with them, so my gear needs to be transported easily. I need to be able to hop off the bike and set up a shot quickly, so having my kit to hand is a must.”
If fast access or a small footprint is a necessity, then Adam uses the Lowepro Street & Field system to keep his gear close to hand. “It’s not a replacement for a bag and I still use my backpacks and cases when I need to, but the S&F series is all about being mobile. I see photographers carrying huge backpacks which only contain a body, a couple of lenses and a flash. If that’s all you need, then a lightweight waist belt, Lens Exchange, Utility Pouch and Quick Flex pouch would accommodate it and weigh a lot less. The modular nature of the S&F series means you can adapt the set-up to suit your own needs.”
During a World Super Bike race weekend last year where Adam was shooting for Honda, the S&F series came into its own. He kept a low profile by using the S&F technical vest and belt adorned with specially designed pouches for lenses, batteries and microphones. Adam was shooting in the pits when the Honda rider, Johnny Rea, suddenly had a bike malfunction and had to come off the track. “I’d switched to a long lens for some panning shots as he came tearing along the finish straight, but before I had a chance to get back inside the garage [to my kit] Johnny was making his way towards me.
I was standing too close to the action for my long lens, but because I had all of my lenses on the belt, I quickly switched to my wide-angle lens, got the shot of him pulling in to the pits and then resting his head on the tank in despair as he listened to the other bikes racing past. If all my kit had been tucked away inside the garage, I never would have got to it in time and would have missed the shot.”
The Street & Field series can be adjusted depending on your individual requirements, but the Lens Exchange 100 is a real revelation. “It works as a second pair of hands when you’re changing lenses on the move,” Adam explains. “It has two lens compartments – one contains the lens you’re carrying and the other is empty. When you remove the lens from the body, you pop it in the empty compartment and then pull out the other. As you zip up the pouch the two compartments concertina together and it turns into a padded lens pouch which keeps your lens protected. It’s a godsend when you’re out in the woods and can’t put lenses down or hand them to an assistant.”
Watch the video below for Adam’s demo of the Street & Field system in use on an off-road mountain bike shoot in the woods – and then visit his website to see more action-packed pictures.