Sourcing images to use in post is, admittedly, not the worst part of my day. But the photographer’s aesthetic can turn a Dude from raging-ladyboner-inducing to lights-out-from-behind material in the click of the shutter. And of course, in terms of quality, I often think, “Sure, that’s some impressive equipment, but can you deliver?” But no matter the medium, the best appreciations are mutual. London-based photographer Laura Fletcher and I were introduced late last year. We exchanged a few enthusiastic emails, and then promptly lost touch for months. But in July, our paths fortuitously happened to cross…in France. During our brief time together, she shared her plan with me–a calendar featuring the men of the ProTour in precisely the position you’re most interested in seeing them: ready to be pinned to the wall, of course. I caught up with Laura over Skype last week, and she gave me a sneak peek as we went a little deeper into her concept.
Kelly Minx Riordan: Hi lovely!
Laura Fletcher: Good morning.
KMR: Good evening! How have you been since I saw you last?
LF: Good! Busy. How was the rest of the Tour?
KMR: It was interesting. I only really hit my stride at the end of my time there. I was super sad the day you left; the boys teased me at dinner about how disappointed I was that you and I hadn’t had more time together. There are so few women…
LF: Awwww. Next year we have to plan better.
KMR: No kidding. So how are the shoots coming? Who have you got so far and who’s up next?
LF: I have 8 done, 4 to go. So far I’ve shot Alex Dowsett, Jens Voigt, Nathan Haas, Steele Von Hoff, George Bennett, Alex Howes, Taylor Phinney, and Michael Hepburn. I’ll be shooting Pippo Pozzato later this month in Monaco, and I’m just trying to schedule times with Thomas Dekker and Andy Fenn. Of course there are a few I would love, but haven’t had contact with: Boonen, Cancellara, Cavendish, Kittel. You got Kittel!
KMR: I know! I almost died. [Argos-Shimano’s] press officer was so helpful, though. Have you had to go through the guys’ press officers or do you just get the guys alone and set up a time to meet?
LF: So far the only one that was set up by a press officer was Jens (Thanks, Tim!). Word of mouth goes a long way. I shot Michael Hepburn last week and no one had the images yet except for him and myself, and I got a text from Dowsett last night saying “Just seen Hepburn’s pic, amazing!” and I was like, whoa, how did you see it? They are all at a race and GreenEdge is at the next dinner table. Apparently they are all passing around this photo…
KMR: What’s your favorite story to tell about shooting the calendar so far?
LF: Ha! That may be confidential! Joking. Well, maybe. But I think possibly shooting Michael Hepburn on a busy street in Girona–the amount of looks we were getting from tourists was pretty priceless. Hanging out on a boat with Alex Howes and Jacob Rathe was pretty priceless too. It’s been great getting to know some of the guys away from races…a good reminder that they are totally human.
KMR: It is easy to forget. How about, um, mishaps or difficulties?
LF: Yes…one of the guys, unnamed for his sake–We had to completely redo the shoot. This was also my fault…but it was just not working. He’s super sweet, and the poses were a little too, let’s say raunchy.
KMR: I didn’t know you had a line to be crossed in terms of raunch.
LF: They were just too raunchy for him. The images all just looked so uncomfortable when I went back and looked at them later. [His shoot] was earlier on in the year, and I’ve worked out now that if I let the guys kind of do what they feel comfortable with, it works a lot better.
KMR: Do the guys come up with their own poses?
LF: It’s a collaboration. I usually start by asking if they have hobbies/ outside interests and we bounce some ideas back and forth. Jens requested to be fishing, but I found the location. Alex Howes wanted to pose with baby zoo animals, but we couldn’t make that work, so we had to use a boat instead. Dekker is the only one who has completely come up with his own ideas to art direct his own shot. Did you know Dekker is a paid underwear model?
KMR: Oh my God. No. I did not know that.
LF: Hold on. I’m looking for it for you.
LF: Watch immediately.
KMR: I am. Oh my God. Oh my GOD. What is happening at 1:34? I have died. You just killed me. Is he contractually obligated to wear his signature underwear when you shoot him?
LF: Well, he wants to be in nothing but a robe…
KMR: So this calendar is your response to the Cyclepassion calendar.
LF: Exactly. Even more so now–I’ve been told the girls that pose in that calendar aren’t paid even though it isn’t for charity.
KMR: Wait, what? That’s some shit.
LF: I mean, don’t get me wrong, if you want to pose for a calendar, go for it, male or female. But I think that with all the equality that women are trying to get in this sport, it’s a bit shit that the Cyclepassion calendar exists where a male version doesn’t.
KMR: Which charity is your calendar benefitting?
LF: A portion is going to Alex Dowsett’s haemophilia charity Little Bleeders, and a portion is going to Taylor Phinney’s Davis Phinney Foundation for Parkinson’s, but the majority is going into women’s cycling. The plan at this point is to put it towards the women’s Tour of Britain. I’m working on plans to have it be a daily award for an unpaid rider as essentially only 12 women’s teams in the world are paid. I think it would be awesome to be able to kick a little cash back to the girls and teams that are literally doing it for the love of the sport. A certain male pro cyclist to remain unnamed said something about women’s cycling that really got me thinking. He said, “When we are young, we are all chasing the dream, but after a few years, for us guys, it becomes a job as much as a dream. We wouldn’t do it anymore if we weren’t paid. The girls do it for so much longer than us for the love and the dream.”
KMR: What are your plans for distribution? Are you going to try to get the calendar into shops, or will it all be online?
LF: There will be a few shops around London, but mainly online, I think. I have a bike shop that does international online sales so it’ll be available for everyone. They are kind enough to be doing the distribution free of charge so all the money (except shipping of course) goes right to charity.
KMR: Any plans for you during cyclocross season?
LF: Usually the goal for winter is to try to get somewhere where it isn’t winter…I like to try to ascribe to the cyclists’ year and work my ass off during the season and then take some time off… but who knows! See where work takes me. I’d love to get out to some of the early season races in cool places: Tour Down Under, Oman, Qatar, or San Luis…but really, nothing beats the Giro. I think you need to do your video reportage there next year.
KMR: I would LOVE to.
LF: If they don’t send a videographer, but will send you, I can always film it for you.
KMR: Working with you would be a gas, plus, the guys already KNOW you. We should pitch this. Thanks for taking the time today! I hope we get to chat again before too long. Be well!
LF: Ciao, bella.
The as-yet-unnamed calendar will be available for ordering in early November–just in time for the gifting season! Email Laura for more details, and if you’ve got calendar names (the punnier the better), I think you should tweet them at her. Up next: BDIPC closes out the road season & begins practicing remounts for the upcoming cyclocross season.