2014 season recap with photographer Ian Lean

Ian Lean joined Wideopenmag as our team photographer at the start of 2014 following a recommendation by Jay Williamson. It’s always a bit of a risk bringing on a new person but we knew straight away that Ian was very “us” and a perfect fit for Wideopenmag.

As soon as he joined us we cracked a few beers open, got chatting and he was instantly part of the family! He joined us at Antur Stiniog and immediately hammered out a gallery of sick photos … which he kept doing all season.

We’re stoked to have him on board! See you soon for the 2015 season mate!


Who is Ian Lean? Where is he? What does he do with his time?

I am a photographer who resides in Cornwall. I currently work full-time, photographing for a street wear shop in Truro.

So 2014 was your first year with Wideopenmag – how was it?

First of all, thanks to Jay Williamson for putting my name forward in the first place. The 2014 season with Wideopenmag was amazing, I couldn’t have asked for a better welcoming from everyone from the moment I met them at Round 1. Although all the trips for me were long, all the locations of the races certainly make up for it. There were some stunning landscapes.


You obviously spend a lot of time travelling with the team. What’s good about being part of the team? Anyone you get on particularly well with or anything you particularly enjoy?

Attending all rounds living in Cornwall is never going to be easy! But I love to travel coming from a surf background so seeing new places is always fun. Being part of the Wideopenmag team feels like being part of a small family which i’ll look forward to continuing for seasons to come! Living down here is miles from anyone! But luckily Jay Williamson lives just under an hour away which is who I grabbed a lift with mostly.


What were the highlights of shooting MTB in 2014 for you?

One of the highlights had to be my first printed MTB feature of Kye Forte in Wideopenmag Issue 22. A media pass at the Fort William world cup saved me from a couple of memory card issues!

Any lowlights? Any particularly hard or gnarly experiences?!

Not that I can remember! The weather was quite kind to us really, although one of the days at Fort William BDS was rather moist! Not mtb related, but I managed to loose my 50mm camera lens down a cliff whilst shooting surf at home!


What was your favourite event or location to shoot in 2014 and why?

Favourite event had to be Llangollen, just due to how gnarly the course was … not only for the riders but for me even walking the top section! You needed both hands free! Location wise, Fort William always stands out due to the scenery but I very much enjoyed AE Forest and Antur Stiniog. Both are equally lovely places.

You see a lot of riders as a photographer. Who stands out for you on the british scene?

Thats a hard one to call, pretty much everyone is decent! Obviously this year it has to be Ratboy, you could see his momentum building throughout the season. All the household names stand out though, they are so pinned!

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You shot the World Cup with us as well. How was that as a photographer? Did you enjoy it? What was good? What was bad?

I had been previously and photographed the year before so I knew what to expect. Basically the only difference was is that you had this little tag around your neck to get free gondola and into the media area. However, come race day you might as well have been a spectator, all marshals weren’t allowing you inside a certain area of the tape because only the top WC photographers were.


I heard you made some new friends at the World Cup…?

Haha I did! I made a few friends actually, it was rad! Most notably Nathan Hughes and Boris Beyer. Nathan and I were chilling near the finish area when Nathan spots a mouse and decides to pick it up. Next thing we know he goes “The little shit just bit me!”! The next minute blood was running from his hand so a trip of the Medics was needed!


You’re relatively new to MTB photos. What has the reception been like to your photos?

I’m never really one to blow my own trumpet so maybe you would have to ask the viewers? I don’t think I’ve had any hate that I know of anyway!

As someone that’s quite new to shooting MTB, what’s your impression of the sport and the industry for photographers?

The sport itself isn’t new to me, I rode bikes back at school even before I got into surfing. The transition from photographing surfing to mtb isn’t too dissimilar, after all they are both fast paces action sports. I have to say though, seeing the racing up close makes you realise quite how fast they are going. There seems to be a lot more competition in the mtb industry which isn’t a bad thing and there is a lot of really good photographers out there!

Obvious one but do you have a favorite image of 2014 that you can share? And why?

Not the best image I shot in 2014 but it has to be a favourite, Ratboy steezing down the rock drop at Antur. This was the first race of 2014 which started the building blocks for his successful season.


And … What’s your plans for the rest of the off season and then for 2015?

The rest of the off season will be spent putting in some miles and riding local trails with mates. Digging some trails as always and photographing a bit. For 2015 I will be returning with the Wideopen Crew for all BDS rounds and hopefully might sneak in a few world cup rounds.


Oh – last but not least – how’s that Nukeproof Mega of yours going? You had a chance to shred it on the home trails much?!

Oh man its so good! I’ve ridden hard tails forever so this full sus game is all new to me but I’m loving it! I’ve been out on it pretty much every weekend since the season ended, its only now I’m beginning to get used to the bigger wheels, full suspension and the handling. I’ll get there!

Look out for more from Ian on Wideopenmag and at the races in 2015!