Henri Cartier-Bresson, the French photographer who has inspired many with his work and writings, was a master when it came to the candid moments, something inherent to outdoor imagery. “For me, the camera is a sketch book, an instrument of intuition and spontaneity. The master of the instant which, in visual terms, questions and decides simultaneously. In order to “give a meaning” to the world, one has to feel oneself involved in what one frames through the viewfinder. This attitude requires concentration, a discipline of the mind, sensitivity, and a sense of geometry.”
As a photographer working to promote outdoor recreation, I have spent countless hours capturing the uniqueness of many places on public lands with a goal to lure people outside. There’s a certain kind of electricity that pulses through me when I’ve captured the essence of what it’s like to ride at a particular location. I want others to look at these photographs and feel like they know what it’s like to be there or want to go there themselves. I want them to take that inspiration, look at a map, plan a trip, get in a car or hop on a plane, put their feet on the pedals, and make their own first-hand account of the place they saw in the photo.
I hope these images inspire future generations of outdoor-enthusiasts and conservationists. I have concerns about the possibility that younger and future generations aren’t being compelled to get outside. It’s for them that I hope my work is “giving meaning” to the world. I hope others feel the electricity of the outdoors – the pull to get out and pedal on singletrack, walk up mountains, climb to the sky, and paddle raging rivers. In the future, they will be asked to make decisions about outdoor opportunities on public lands. That connection will help them understand what they will be asked to protect and why it’s important.
Leslie Kehmeier is the former Mapping Manager for the International Mountain Biking Association. More of her outdoor adventure and travel photography can be found at https://thewideeyedworld.com/.