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Women in action sports photography Interview with Samantha Saskia Dugon

Interview by Madlaina Walther, pictures by Samantha Saskia Dugon

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Can you please present yourself, who are you, what are you doing?

I’m Samantha Saskia. I’ve been doing photography in the mountain bike industry professionally for the past year or so. I got taken to watch a mountain bike race by my boyfriend at the time and I had my camera with me as I had an unexpected day off work, and I was like, “that’s good fun!”. During university and before it was just a hobby that I enjoyed and in my 3rd year I wanted to really give it a proper go and from there I’ve been working hard on it and yeah, it seems to be going well!

Samantha Saskia Dugon (© Madlaina Walther)

Nice! And your studies were photography?

No, I studied law… (laughing) Well, yeah, I’m passionate about law and politics and all that sort of stuff along with music. Law, politics, music and photography are basically me. That sums me up.

Ok, nice. A special approach to photography! A little bit like my own…

In the UK, it is the norm to go through each stage of education and get pushed into uni without taking any time out to really learn and explore yourself and what you’d like to pursue as a career. I took the usual route of going straight to uni from college, and picking a subject that I enjoyed and was good at, but without having any experience in it or anything else for that matter. So by the time I got experience I was like “I don’t want to do law”, the thought of trying to climb some corporate ladder in an office somewhere, living for the weekend sends a shudder through me.

What are you doing here now?

I’m shooting the Women’s Bike Summit for Allegra Tourismus. I’m capturing the event, having fun, being able to meet women in the industry and share their stories. It’s a really cool opportunity!

I like the fast pace of action sports. It’s basically the same as mountain biking, the adrenaline is there, you have to get the shot there and then, and in those split seconds you can learn a lot about yourself.

What do you like specially about action sports photography?

I like how you have to think on the spot. I don’t think I would have the patience to do something like landscape photography. I like the fast pace of action sports. It’s basically the same as mountain biking, the adrenaline is there, you have to get the shot there and then, and in those split seconds you can learn a lot about yourself. I really like being put on the spot, having to think creatively and quickly. Yeah, I really enjoy that aspect of the fast pace environment even though it can get stressful at times, it’s good fun.

Do you have a definition for yourself of action sports photography? How do you decide for yourself whether it is action sports photography or just sports photography?

I think it’s about the terrain and the landscape that it’s in. If you’re out in the wilderness somewhere I would see that more as action sports than just standard sports. That’s how I would try to classify. There is more adventure to it and there is more of action to it.

Two of Samantha Saskias favourites of 2017... Find more of them at the end of the interview! (© Samantha Saskia Dugon)

Where do you see your role as a female action sports photographer?

The first piece I ever did properly was a TREK women’s enduro piece with Tracy Moseley and Katy Winton. Trek wanted a piece that depicted the relationship between the two and how they work together and were after more of all girls team approach to the piece, and someone who wasn’t afraid of being around women and getting into their routine and what they do.

But I think everyone put their own touch on it, there is no specific difference between how a man would shoot than how a woman would shoot

Guys can go in a location for a week with a bunch of guys shooting somewhere and living with them in a house somewhere. I think they can get along a lot easier, less intimidated when they’re walking around half dressed as they are getting ready to go out for a ride, they won’t mind photographing that because they think that is all part of it… But they wouldn’t really do that around women, so if women were just chilling out or chatting, getting ready, doing hair, or something like that I think they would be a little more intimidated trying get in there and shoot it. And that’s my sort of perspective on it. But I think everyone put their own touch on it, there is no specific difference between how a man would shoot than how a woman would shoot. I think it’s good trying to get a difference of angle and usually it’s easy for women to hang out with women because everyone is just a lot more natural around each other whereas the scenario of 15 women and just one guy can be a little bit scary for both sides. If you’re part of the group it’s just little bit easier to get used to it.

Do you often work with female athletes?

The majority of work I have done has been with women over the past sort of year. The stuff like I did with TREK with the girls, trying to capture their relationship together and how they try to push each other. I do a lot of stuff with Total Women Cycling and then of course the women’s week here. So I do enjoy of having that and being able to promote that more. I enjoy having the opportunity of getting into unique women’s events and helping publicize them and just make it more equal. I really enjoy doing this, getting rad photos of women having fun on bikes and sharing them.

Do you think there should be more women shooting action sports?

The more women the better. I don’t know why there aren’t as many women trying to do action sports stuff. Mountain biking is a very male dominated sport, there is a lot of focus and effort going into increasing female participation in the sport, but yet behind the scenes in the media for example, is lacking in female presence. As I said, I don’t know why there aren’t more and it’s not really something I would see as a problem, but the more passionate people in the industry, guy or girl, the better.

with other women you feel like you already have this shared common ground where you’re both female mountain bikers which is a minority

It can be quite intimidating to interview a bunch of guys in the industry as compared to interviewing a group of girls, as with other women you feel like you already have this shared common ground where you’re both female mountain bikers which is a minority. But I think it’s good fun to learn how to adapt to different situations and people as it’ll make you a more rounded person, both personally and professionally.

You said, you don’t know why… Do you have ideas what should change that there would be more women in this field?

Well, my initial thought is just to have to promote it more. Maybe if there would be more stuff on social media of women photographing the races and stuff like that for example. But of course those are things that never see the light of the day because they won’t make it in a race report for example. It’s sort of hard to show the people behind the cameras and computers, I think your page (Women in action Sports Photography) is a great outlet to share and promote women in the industry.

I really enjoy projects and features that are girls writing and shooting girls, it creates different content and as long as everyone is passionate in it, then the more content the better! But then you always get the people like “oh, why aren’t the guys allowed” and then it’s just a mine field! (laughing) An absolute mine field!

Thank you a lot for this interview and good luck for your plans!

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Find more amazing pictures by Samatha Saskia on her website: www.saskiadugon.com

Find more about Women in Action Sports Photography here!

© Samantha Saskia Dugon
© Samantha Saskia Dugon
© Samantha Saskia Dugon
© Samantha Saskia Dugon

Credits:

Photos by Samantha Saskia Dugon and Madlaina Walther, interview by Madlaina Walther – all rights reserved. 2017/2018

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