Photo: Johny Cook
Over the last year or so, I’ve been seeing Rich’s name popping up in the credits of different photos and videos. I wasn’t really sure who this guy was, but I was digging his work. Each time something new comes from him, it’s better than the previous and it undoubtably had caught my attention.
A few months back, Rich had shot me an email giving me a sample of some of his work. He wanted some time so shoot some more photos for some sort of gallery for the site. I kept thinking I need to find out what this guy is all about and decided to ask if he would be down for an interview. It was perfect timing since I just started playing with the idea of doing this Portfolio series. I’m real stoked to present to you this new Portfolio. Check out the interview below, then check out his work in this photogallery. Check it!
Name: Rich Maciver
Recently moved to London. I’m originally from Inverness, Scotland, with some hard time done in Aberdeen.
Got my first BMX January 2nd 2000
Years Shooting Photos:
I bought a 7D in October 2010, That’s when I really thought “right, I better learn how to use one of these”. So just a shade over two years, I’d always had a fleeting interest till that point.
Years filming and editing:
Same as above.
What was it that first got you into BMX? Any early memories come to mind?
I had a BMX for a few months ‘till I went and checked out the local jumps. I met the best folk there. We grew up riding and digging together. Classic BMX story really. I’d watch Fuzzy Hall and TJ Lavin’s DIG video on a daily basis, get inspired, then head out to the jumps.
When did you start picking up cameras? Was it due to BMX or were you already playing with them before BMX?
I’ve had some terrible luck with injuries, clocking up 2 shoulder opps and 4 knee opps to repair 3 torn ACL’s.
When I first did my ACL in ’04 it took a long time for the docs to diagnose it and put me through surgery. It’s great having the NHS in the UK but I waited roughly 18 months to get the opp. During that time I’d ask to borrow my brothers SLR as it was gathering dust. I had no idea what I was doing, I’d just set it to Auto with no thought to composition, but I guess it shows an interest was there from way back then.
I wish I could say I was one of these dudes who still shoots on film and has an amazing background in photography, although I’ve done some darkroom work, I’m a product of the digital age for sure.
What’s in your camera bag these days?
I’m very fortunate in that my girlfriend, who I recently moved in with, is also a photographer and we share a lot of our kit. In fact today we’ve just ordered backdrops for setting up a studio in the spare room.
In my bag I usually have:
Sigma 10-20mm f3.5
Canon 24-70mm f2.8
Canon 50mm 1.8
Canon 430ex and 420exII flashes.
I use Hahnel Combi TF triggers – but really need to upgrade.
And a couple tripods.
Then if I’m doing some filming I’ll sometimes need to use my:
Rode Videomic Pro
Sennheiser EW100 for interviews and such.
Hague Junior Jib
And a Glidetrack
Do you have a dream setup or are you pretty content with what you’re working with these days?
I think at the moment it’s more about refining and upgrading what I have. After shooting for a while you begin to realize what you need to make it easier for yourself as apposed to making your images ”better”. I think Will Evans recent edit is a good example; simple gear = great outcome. Though I’m sure it would have made his life easier to have fancy gear.
“The Best Camera Is The One You Still Have” – Filmed and edited by Will Evans
When did you start doing things on a professional level? What was your first big project you worked on?
I began working with a Digital Media company in my hometown in early 2011. They make mainly educational and instructional videos for businesses – that can range quite a bit in content so I won’t get into details.
Thomas, from the media company rides a bit so when he stopped by my brother’s shop he was talking about one of my edits he saw on Facebook. Things got linked up and that’s how I started working there.
I was very much learning and earning to begin with in that job. I think Tom realizes now he could have got me a lot cheaper than he did, haha. I’d just re-invest anything I’d earn in camera kit – like my Glidecam or radio mics.
Who are some of your favorite people to shoot and film with?
There are people I enjoy shooting with for different reasons I suppose. Guys like Sam Jones and Franny Wright are so dialed with what they do they just tend to nail the trick pretty quickly. They’ll watch it back and we both make sure it looks right too. I think more and more riders now are conscious of how it looks on camera as well as how the trick looks. During that trip in Scotland with Niki he’d be really understanding of what I wanted to do and had no trouble making sure I had everything in place. He’s shot with a lot of talented people too, so I actually feel like I learnt a lot … like how to always remember my batteries!
Are there any pros you have always wanted to shoot with but haven’t had the chance?
We’re doing an edit for each of the team riders at 20Twenty so I get to film with some insane guys. Recently Dan Paley just switched from 20twenty to The Loot, so unfortunately we’ve missed that chance. Dan stayed up in Aberdeen for a bit and I’m sure sales of his Stereo frame in Scotland went through the roof! That guy is such an insanely good all round rider! He’s a sound lad too. I wouldn’t say I have a wish list of guys to film with though. I think you just end up filming with certain folk over time and those things happen naturally.
What are you currently working on? Any projects coming up that you are looking forward to?
We’ve still got a couple of the 20twenty lads left to film, but I think winter is going to put the brakes on that for a bit. Alex D must be up next (?). Lately I’ve been working with Mint Distro’ on some stuff for their in-house brand ‘The Vandals’. We’re filming some stuff over December which I’m pretty excited about. For me I’ve just ordered some studio kit. Like I said, my girlfriend and I are setting up a small studio in our spare room, which we’re pretty hyped on.
If you had to pick a favorite photo or video of yours, which would you pick and why?
It’d have to be the one of Niki on the bridge up in Scotland. The whole trip was based on Niki seeing a photo of that bridge on someone’s Facebook. We knew roughly where it was, got up at the crack of dawn and drove for hours along some sketchy roads. Suddenly the trees at the side of the road cleared and we were driving over it! Then there was ten minutes of nerves as we walked down to see if it was rideable. After we got that shot I went and stood up where Niki was riding, it was so scary to even stand on. With a good 8-10 foot drop either side to the rocks below and the ‘V’ shape of the bridge wasn’t straight so Niki had to turn at the bottom; real awkward to ride.
It seems like BMX always brings on some crazy scenarios. Have you been caught up in any sketchy or hilarious situations while shooting? Care to share a story or two?
Luckily I’ve not had too many hairy moments. Getting lost and nearly driving into the North Sea in a big ghetto van is a recent memory. But when you hang out with riders you do get in some sketchy situations off your bike.
Let’s say you get a huge budget to take 5 riders anywhere in the world for a week of shooting and filming. Who do you bring, where do you go and why?
The 20Twenty dudes; Niki, Chris and Alex … surely I get the TM/shop owner, Mike Ellington, in there as a freebie (?)
Maybe throw in Jason Enns and Kris Bennet to mix it up, Road Fools and Bennet’s Square1 section inspired me so much when I was younger. I’ve never met either but I use to ride a white Volume Flatline, which was Bennet’s Sig frame. I’m not sure where we’d go, maybe get in a van and go from top to bottom of South America, there’s bound to be some insane stuff there!
Who are some of the photographers and film makers you look to for inspiration?
Photographers, at the moment I’d say: Vincent Perraud, and Hadrien Picard. Ryan Allan and Ken Hermann (skate photographers). I enjoy what Jeremy Pavia is doing with the TTL feature – it’s always good to hear the voice of the professionals and I don’t think there’s enough of that sort of thing in BMX.
Filming wise at the moment everything Rich Forne seems to do is amazing. Now that’s a really obvious choice!
There’s a ton of BMX photographers who I like to keep tabs on, we’d be here all day.
Since coming to London I’ve seen some great photographers at work outside of BMX like Dan Tobin Smith, Jamie Smith and a load more.
Did you go to school for film for photography? How important do you feel school is for a career like this?
I went to University but to be honest I don’t think it helped all that much. It was more about learning a way of thinking as apposed to learning the technicalities, so I guess that’s where I learnt about the power of an idea over all the fancy fluffy presentation stuff. My degree is in Visual Communication, although it’s not in photography it taught me a lot about the idea behind creative thinking.
In hindsight I do wish I got taught the technical side of things more, but budget cuts at the Uni meant the photo tech had to take early retirement just before I started my final year. We’re in a strange time where you can learn more on the Internet than in a classroom. Like a lot of folk are saying, the classroom is quickly becoming an old fashioned method of learning.
Do you make a living off shooting or do you have another job to pay the bills?
I’ve just recently started working part time with a UK distro’ called Paligap. It allows me the freedom to work freelance when work comes along and take on last minute assisting jobs, as is usually the way with assisting. I’ve set myself short-term goals with regards to living off shooting and hopefully living off photography isn’t too far away.
How much riding are you able to get in these days? I’d imagine you get stuck behind the camera as soon as things start getting wild during a session, huh?
Usually if I go out with shooting in mind I’ll just ride too, wait till the session gets going and then get my camera out. For a rider it’s so much harder to warm up and then send it on a big trick if there’s no one else to have a session with.
However I don’t think I’ve ridden as little in the last few months as I have for over a decade (barring injuries). Summer was spent getting my final coursework done. Between moving to London, job hunting and now the weather it’s been pretty hard to get out to ride. I actually don’t feel at home on a bike at the moment, which is such a horrible strange feeling.
Let’s say a brand is stoked on your work and wants to get you to do some work for them. How would they go about getting at you?
Through www.richmaciver.com I’ve got a contact page on there.
On twitter: @Bitchforks
I’m also on facebook/Instagram: RichMaciver
Do you do much outside of BMX? What are some of the weirdest projects you have worked on in the past?
Haha, yes. I replied to an advert on Gumtree (I think it’s the UK equivalent of Craig’s list) from a studio that was looking for a photographer. The guy rang me and pretty much gave me the job on the spot, all on the strength of two studio photos I’d sent him. Although he sold it to me as taking Family portraits, it was pretty much 100% glamour photography – which is fine, but its not all hot girls in Lingerie. It was so weird and awkward. I don’t even think half the customers realized what kind of studio it was until they had their make-up done and entered the studio … which consisted of a double bed and not much else. One girl approached me during shooting to sell her the photo’s I’d taken of her on the sly as the studio was charging £95 for one photo. I had to knock her back. A week later she served me at the local supermarket. The studio was so run down and dusty, it was embarrassing. I did one shift, got my £100 and never went back.
I used to check Gumtree and that sort of thing on a daily basis but 99% of people on there are just after someone to do it on the cheap/for free.
What kind of advice do you have for people looking to get into photography and film work?
I guess if you only used your legs once a week you wouldn’t be very good at using them, the same goes for photography. Use your camera as much as you can. That’s the biggest piece of advice I’ve ever been given and it’s the best I can give – Shout to Fred at Dig for that piece.
Where do you see yourself taking things as time goes on?
I’d like to continue to travel a more, working on fresh projects with good people. Outside of BMX I’m aiming to get some more permanent assisting work and hone my skills in that field of photography. Ideally taking what I learn in the high-end studios, using that professionalism in the BMX environment to produce great pieces of work; like Ken Hermann does with his photography and of course what Joe Simon does with his films.
How can people keep up with you? Do you have a portfolio website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.?
As I mentioned before folk can reach me through: www.richmaciver.com
On twitter: @Bitchforks
I’m also on facebook/Instagram: RichMaciver
Do you have any shout outs or thanks?
Ah there are too many! My girlfriend for trusting me enough to let me take some of her kit away on road trips. Mike Hughes (m-hughes.com) and Johny Cook (johnycook.com) for inspiring me during my time in Aberdeen.
Most importantly my brother Mark for hooking me up with my first BMX. All the guys I’ve been filming and working with lately, Mike and the guys at 20Twenty, Phil at Mint, Gus at Paligap, Mana-Joe at Transition Extreme and everyone who has let me shoot them.
Is there anything I missed you want to add?
I think we’re all good for now. Big thanks for reading this; big thanks to The Union keep up the good work guys. A huge thanks to anyone who has ever typed www.richmaciver.com into the address bar.
When I was at University I used to e-mail BMX photographers all the time for advice and feedback. A massive thanks to everyone who took the time to reply, it made a difference and means a lot.