SPOTLIGHT ON SANTINI PHOTOGRAPHER BEARDY MCBEARD

Besides standing on the side of the road or watching live on television, there are a lot of ways to follow pro racing; newspapers, cycling websites, social media, and, if you can wait, magazines. All are a nice substitutes for being there, but if you want to really feel the passion of the race from an insider’s perspective, check out the Tour de France blog of an Australian photographer named, of all things, Beardy McBeard. 

That’s right, Newcastle native Marcus Enno, who sports a six-inch scraggle to which he owes his psuedonym, publishes a narrative from the Tour De France at www.beardyscaravan.com.

Enno’s daily dispatches are a visually stunning and unique take on the Tour de France. He intertwines race photography with visual storytelling about the ‘rest’ of the Tour de France experience; the fans, the landscape, the towns and villages the Tour plunders in the name of its grand spectacle, and candid, behind-the-scene moments from within the race caravan.

We talked to Enno (Beardy), who also produces the beautiful on-bike images for Santini clothing catalogs and website, just before he departed for France. We wanted to understand where his passion for the sport of cycling came from, his background in photography, and ask just how in hell he got the name Beardy McBeard.

Santini: How did you first get into cycling?

Beardy: My first bike was a mountain-bike that I received as a birthday present. I remember riding it to school and being so proud of it -- and the 12 gears! I came to road bikes much later. I rode fixed gear bikes at first, which was a real challenge up Sydney’s many hills. Then my wife and I decided to cycle tour around Europe for 5 months, so we brought touring bikes and kitted them out with panniers to carry all our camping gear. That adventure inspired me to ride more when I returned home, so I bought a road bike and got obsessed with riding every morning before work.

Santini: When did you get your start in photography?

Beardy: I took classes in school. Black and white film at first. Once I finished high school, I moved to Sydney to study photography at college. I got a part-time job as a photographic assistant. That led to a job as a photographer full time at a commercial studio. I worked there for almost 10 years photographing a wide range of subjects.

Santini: When did cycling and photography come together?

Beardy: After a couple of years of riding, I started an Instagram account to post images from all the places my bike was taking me. Every morning I’d capture my mates riding around Sydney’s beaches in the beautiful morning light. The Instagram following increased quickly as it inspired people to get out and ride too! Then I planned a holiday to the 100th edition of the Tour de France and got some great pictures. Which led to a photography exhibition. Which was a success and led to my first cycling photography job (a cycling trip in Yarra Valley Victoria where Richie Porte was a guest rider).

Santini: You have an unusual pseudonym. What inspired the name Beardy McBeard?

Beardy: In the early days of Strava, there were still plenty of opportunities to get KOMs around Sydney. I wanted a profile name that would make me recognisable on the road. It worked! People often asked me if I was the Beardy guy on Strava leaderboards.

Santini: You started Beardy’s Caravan as a portfolio for your cycling photography?

Beardy: Right, but also to share them with anyone that had an interest in cycling photography. Chasing the pro peloton is hard work. As a rookie, I had no idea how it was done. Anyone that has been to a grand tour will know how much goes into moving the race around the country. Logistics -- from booking hotels, planning my photoshoot locations and dealing road diversions to get back in front of the riders after stopping to take a shot -- is a massive part of my job. After the stage, I have thousands of images to process. I decided to use Beardy’s Caravan to document the process. It got such a great response, I published a book from my first caravan.

Santini: How did you connect with Santini?

Beardy: I had been working at the Tour de France and Giro d’Italia creating the blog. They saw my work and contacted me to purchase some images for their upcoming catalogue. The relationship continued with Santini coming onboard as a sponsor for Beardy’s Caravan. The following year they asked me to shoot the new season collection in Malaga Spain. It was a success and they continue to be my best client.

Santini: That relationship gives you access to Santini clothing. What are your favorite pieces?

Beardy: I’m loving the Classe jerseys. They are so comfortable and the fit is perfect. I rode the Classe jersey while bike packing in Scotland and it was perfect for long days in the saddle. The look is very classic. I wore them with Mago 2.0 bib shorts also perfect for all day comfort.

 

Follow Beardy’s Caravan online at www.beardyscaravan.com