Joe Harper knows a thing or two about staying active. An avid cyclist and professional photographer, who better to put our high performance edit to the test? We asked Joe (and his trusty camera) to take this season’s key Activewear styles out for a spin and tell us a bit more about how he balances his love of photography with his need for speed.
Can you tell us about when your passion for cycling began? Have you always been an active person?
Growing up I was extremely adverse to spending time outdoors! I had a minor interest in BMX when I was younger, but I wouldn’t say it evolved into a passion until I moved to London around ten years ago. Bikes gave me something to tinker with and also a mode of transport.
What about your love of photography?
I’d always loved cameras and photo books, but mostly wildlife and landscape photography. I started shooting professionally through assisting in London during university, and slowly managed to cultivate my own client base internationally. The sports side came quite organically via my own passion for cycling and meeting people who wanted to work together.
Who are photographers that inspire your work?
I’m drawn to photographers that can immerse themselves in a specific field and treat their work as more than just a job. One of my favourites is Frédéric Lagrange for his huge body of work in Mongolia, a place that means a lot to me. I’m always inspired by my friends’ work - the friendly competition and support is important in an industry like this.
What are your favourite subjects to shoot?
Anyone who looks like they’re putting their all into their passion. A lone figure climbing a mountain absolutely on their limiter, two rivals sprinting for the finish line…
Who or what would be your dream to shoot?
I’d love to follow a cycling team during the Tour de France and experience everything from inside the team cars. Having access to that type of situation would be priceless.
Would you say the two practices relate to one another in any way?
Totally, they each feed into the other. My love (addiction) to travel and new places helps to fuel the work I’m making. Likewise seeking new roads and adventures on the bike always puts you in a great position to bring a camera along, whether it’s solo or riding with friends.
What are the respective challenges of each?
I guess I feel the more time I spend progressing as an athlete is when I start to produce less work for myself, and when I’m busy shooting abroad for weeks or months straight there’s little time to be on the bike. It can be quite demoralising to get on the bike again and not feel like yourself.
How does physical activity affect your creativity?
I think the majority of my time spent on the bike is used to think about new projects, ways to work differently, and plans for the future. When I return home after a great ride is when I feel most inspired and productive.
Can you tell us a bit about your current routine? How are you spending your days?
Currently I’m spending a lot of time on the bike! I’m alternating my days between cycling and Yin yoga practice with my girlfriend. Forever trying to find a movie that neither of us has seen!
What does mind-body connection mean to you and how do you cultivate it?
It’s everything. I’ve known plenty of days when my head just isn’t in it and I can’t perform on the bike. Keeping a clean and healthy diet, practicing yoga at home and stretching all help to feed positivity into your brain and keep the legs spinning. But also taking time to have some fun, whether it’s on or off the bike. Balance is the key.
What’s something that non-cyclists would be surprised to learn about the sport?
People are always so surprised to see how many spectators are at cycling events. It always shocks them that so many people want to see people riding bikes!
What about expert cyclists out there – any tips or tricks you can share?
Don’t take yourself so seriously, this sport is all about having fun at the end of the day. I see so many people working themselves up for the strangest reasons.
What lessons has cycling taught you in other areas of your life?
Perseverance, determination and consistency in my work and my practice. I’ve learnt that I’m a very routine-driven creature and keeping those good habits in check always pays off.