Words/Interview by Sean & Photos by Jordan Clark Haggard
Today EVERYONE has a smart phone. Smart phones take good photos that can be shared with the world in a matter of seconds because EVERYONE also has an Instagram account. If you follow even half as many cyclists as we do here at Team Dream, then you see a lot of bicycle related photography every time you look at your phone. A whole lot of that imagery understandably comes from Southern California. I mean, this is the land of Hollywood after all! Just a few short miles from the city you can be completely isolated and buried within a vast mountain area that goes until basically forever. It is my not so humble opinion that Los Angeles has some of the best places to ride a bicycle on planet earth. Riding here is so good that there is even an ironic hashtag dedicated to it… #LASucksForCycling.
When I first started riding in Los Angeles, back in 2008 before hashtags ruled the world, I was living without a cell phone and digital cameras were equal parts big and expensive. Although I happened to be a photography enthusiast it never really dawned on me to bring a camera on a bike ride. Wasting a jersey pocket on a camera was not an option… that would be insane. Pockets were for food, a vest, arm warmers, sunblock, wallet, lights, shitty hand drawn maps and quarters for phone calls (remember… no cell phone). It was a very different time back then. We were still largely dependent on words to describe what our rides were like to people. Can you imagine? As you know, the written word has not been relevant since 2002. That’s why only 3.5% of people who clicked into this post are still reading to this point. Anyway, it was about this same time when I first met Jordan Clark Haggard.
In early 2009 Jordan started riding with a small 35mm film camera to document his life and he created a blog called The Blue & Red to share film selects. Jordan's images of bike friends and bike racing tell an accurate story of what it was like to be a cyclist in Southern California pre-Instagram. In a nutshell, it was a time when the entire world had not yet realized how much fun we were having. Jordan now regularly shoots for some of the cycling industry's biggest companies, but has still continued to post on the blog sporadically for the better part of ten years. All of us here at Team Dream hope he continues for a long time to come! We asked Jordan a few questions about the blog's origins and he was kind enough to share the following answers with us.
Team Dream Bicycling Team: What is The Blue & Red?
Jordan Clark Haggard: The Blue and Red is a visual document of my time and life in and around bikes. I started taking images as a way to share all the great places my bike took me. Basically I just wanted a way to show people that riding bikes was really cool.
How long have you been shooting photos for this project?
My first post to Tumblr was on February 5, 2009.
The Blue and Red was sort of like Instagram before Instagram existed. Is it tough for you thinking about all of the "likes" you missed out on?
Everyday, ha... actually, I don't worry about it too much. I do wish I would have started an IG account much sooner than I did, but it took me way too long to switch from my Blackberry to a real smart phone.
What brought you to cycling?
Cycling has always been in my life. As a kid I spent hours pumping up and down the little single track and around the orchards surrounding my house. My first job was working weekends at the local bike shop and I continued working in shops through college. I took a five year detour into racing triathlon, then came back and started racing road again. That is when I started making images for The Blue and Red.
What brought you to photography?
I have always been into art. When I was a kid I liked to draw a lot. I started college thinking I would be a studio artist, but after taking a basic B&W class was captivated by the process of making photos.
What is your 35mm ride camera of choice?
I like the Yashica T5/T4 fixed 35mm for riding. It fits in a jersey really well and IF you get a good copy they can be super reliable.
You have ridden, raced and/or traveled in places all over the world. What do you think makes Los Angeles so special for both cycling and photography?
The terrain is so diverse, you can ride from the beach to 7000 ft in about 50 miles. We have everything here. The climbing is insane long, steep, punchy... On a weekday you can ride roads in Angeles National Forest and only see 1 or 2 cars. I think the diversity is what makes the images so great as well. That and the beautiful light we get in the fall and winter just before sunset.
Do you have any favorite rides to share?
I have been loving riding out the Leo Carrillo and staying the night at the bike in camp spots. You can get there by road or single track. It is a rad super quick get away. A while back I woke up at sunrise, packed up my stuff and was home on the east side of LA by 9:30am. It was sweet.
What is your strangest photo experience to date for The Blue & Red?
My favorite image, that is not exclusively about bikes but I made on a ride, is of two high school kids who high centered their moms sedan driving around dirt Mulholland. They were super bummed I stopped to take a photo. One of them is giving me the bird in the photo.
Cycling photographer sounds like a dream job to most cyclists. Is it?
It's pretty sweet. The hustle is real, like any job, but bikes and photos have taken me to some amazing places and introduced me to my best friends and even my wife.
Your bicycle and your camera are both hanging off of a cliff and you only have time to save one... what do you do?
Neither, they are both insured and can be replaced. That said, if it is on a job, the camera. It is how I make a living.
How have you evolved as a cyclist over the last decade?
One thing has stayed the same, I spend most of my time riding alone. What has changed is I have gone from a wanna be racer to an enthusiast. I spend a lot more ride time at the coffee shop now and not nearly as much time in Zone 3. Lately, I have also been riding a bunch of MTB. It really helps me to get away from the city and have some open space to let my mind wonder.
What still intrigues you most about cycling after all this time?
Everything. Bikes and cycling are the best. The combination of athletics and engineering hits everything I am interested in.
Now, the same question, but with photography?
I really like putting images together in a way that tells a story. I am interested in how one photo can inform and build meaning in others depending on how the are viewed and displayed.
Follow Jordan on Instagram HERE