In the years since her first assignment at the 2011 Tour of California, Emily Maye has made a name for herself photographing the pain and glory of professional cycling. By capturing the drama of a race and the faces behind the scenes she brings the sport to life, telling a timeless story that cannot be seen on television.
Tell us your story. What inspired you to pursue a career in photography?
I have been interested in storytelling as long as I can remember. I grew up in my mother’s ballet school in Santa Barbara and spent my whole childhood involved in ballet. At around 13, I fell in love with cinema and ultimately I went to USC Film School & Colombia University to study film and screenwriting. Photography was something I gravitated towards to tell visual stories and in time that became my primary focus. I love every part of the process and I am really happy with where I ended up.
What is the most rewarding part about your job?
I love photographing people and I find that the most rewarding. It’s a real challenge to capture something authentic in people and bring that out in a photograph. I gravitate towards the quieter moments and it’s so satisfying when you can capture something that may not have been obvious at first glance. I also like that in my job photographing the Trek Factory Racing Team, I get to react to a lot of different environments and race situations.
What is the most challenging aspect of photographing world-class athletes?
It is wonderful to photograph people that are at the top of their field. They perform with intensity and have the proper form and movement that makes my job much easier. The travel has been the most challenging part for me personally. It’s a lot of days away from home and in hotels. Everyone on the Trek Factory Racing Team is very comfortable with my presence so they make my job easier in that way. It’s been three seasons now with this team and no one is surprised to find me in a corner somewhere taking photos of them.
Tell us about your most unexpectedly adventurous day of work.
I think Tim Vanderjeugd alluded to it in his interview, but we went to Colombia for 48 hours as part of the new Behind The Stripes series that we did this year. We didn’t find out we were going to get to go until right before and all of the sudden we were in Colombia (I had never been to South America) and starting a project that we weren’t even sure how we would shape at that time. Everything I saw there was an adventure. I wish I could have stayed much longer!
What tips can you give our readers who are interested in improving their travel photography?
Look for nice light! There is no better way to show your friends and family the beautiful places you have been than through nice light. I also suggest trying to find things that resonate with you in the way that they reveal the tone and culture of place beyond just the famous monuments. Try to convey the sounds and smells, not just the sight.
Do you have a personal favorite photograph that you can share with our readers?
There’s a photo of Fabian from last year on the bus with his headphones on and it was the morning he ended up winning Flanders. I really love that photo because it feels like a calm stolen moment. You don’t really imagine that I am there taking the photo in that picture and to me that is when I have done my job most successfully. But it’s really hard to pick just one. It’s been an amazing adventure to spend that much time inside of the team these past three years.
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