‘I found the H5D-50c soon stops being a precious and expensive piece of cherished kit and soon becomes an essential tool in achieving the quality of imagery a new project deserves’ – Tom Oldham
Music and portrait photographer Tom Oldham needed a special personal project to help get himself on track with his new H5D-50c – so he made a beeline for London’s historic Herne Hill Velodrome.
Tom has shot some of the biggest names in music: Smokey Robinson, Alicia Keys, Nick Cave, Muse, Arctic Monkeys, Elbow, The Prodigy, Ed Sheeran – to name-drop a few.
But on this occasion he wanted an ensemble of unsung heroes to focus on.
He tells Hasselblad News: “These pictures are part of a personal project initiated to get me 100% familiar with my new H5D-50c. I wanted to enjoy getting to grips with this outstanding camera and so I contacted the Velodrome to set up the shoot.
The real story is about passion. The dedication, drive, commitment, time and incredible energy continually spent by the staff, support team, cyclists and their families makes them all my favourite kind of hero – unsung. All I needed was a camera that could guarantee a high quality result in every lighting condition, with support from the devastatingly good Bron Move packs.”
“I saw dernys during the Olympics and this discipline really caught my interest pictorially. (The solitary biker who leads the procession of Olympic cyclists in the keirin event is known as the derny after the type of motorised bicycle he rides. He sits bolt upright at the back of his machine to create a slipstream for the cyclists behind him to ride in.)
“I was relieved to see the scene looked relatively undocumented which always makes any subject matter that much more appealing”.
“Herne Hill Velodrome is one of the oldest cycling tracks in the world – but it has been obviously overshadowed by the shiny new Olympic Velodrome. I offered Herne Hill management new press and PR shots in exchange for access – and they agreed.”
Shooting at The Herne Hill Velodrome:
Confesses Tom: “I happily admit I got lucky with this. Shooting people who have real passion is the easiest thing in the world and here the subject matter seized my attention at every turn.
The close ups, the wides, the riders (young and old especially); the crew; the engines and frames; everything was a shot. Having the broncolor Move packs’ light popping in was of mighty assistance but knowing my new H5D-50c would flex to meet whatever British summertime might throw at me gave me all the confidence required to go generate the images I wanted to create – this time without clients, conference calls, briefing documents or art direction. A self-initiated project, with extra time allowed for getting to know my new kit for fun. Sheer luxury.”
He adds: “I’d contacted the Velodrome via friends in the tight-knit cycle network. My curiosity had been aroused during the 2012 Olympics watching various chubby dudes riding petrol-powered bikes, setting a cracking pace for cycle racers in their slipstream – all on the gleaming new Velodrome at Lee Valley in London. They held themselves with true swagger and on investigation it appeared they were relatively undocumented (outside sports photography) so I happily offered my lensmanship to them, supplying usage-free photography in exchange for access.
And once I got my ‘right to roam’ I got right amongst it, with my presence duly announced via their booming Tannoy.”
“A key aspect to shooting in a new environment is treading sensitively but confidently – approaching anyone who catches your eye and explaining what you’re up to, without quashing the dynamic of the moment.”
“It’s tricky but inevitably I find when you’re in an alien space (as this was for me) almost everyone and everything is fascinating, new and deserving of a frame or two. So the mission aim is to shoot and shoot and don’t tire until you’ve backed up and packed up. When my head was down and I was punching on, I found the H5D-50c soon stopped being a precious and expensive piece of cherished kit and became a necessary, essential tool in achieving the quality of imagery a new project deserves.
At the Velodrome the shots came flooding in, with my diligent assistant always knowing where and when to point the Softlighter, as I span 360° trying to decide who and what was next.”
Tom achieved all his ambitions for the Velodrome shoot.
He says: “It was win-win. The HHV now has a bank of new press and PR photography they can call on anytime. And a local brewery has even used my shots for a bottled beer label to raise funds for the Velodrome too – a more perfect usage I couldn’t imagine! For my part, I have explored a whole new avenue of location portraiture and got to grips with the next level of camera – which can be easily and quickly applied to a whole range of lighting conditions.
The final aesthetic of these images hopefully achieved my true aim, which was to show everyone involved in their best possible light. I see them all as heroes, in the local community and in the cycling community – driven by their craving for an outdoor, healthy lifestyle and sweeping us all along with their enthusiasm as they whisk past.”
All photographs in the article are taken by Tom Oldham. More about the photographer and his work at www.tomoldham.com