After recently graduating with a B.F.A. in art/photography, Missouri’s Bryce Randol is ready to travel, ride, and shoot as much as possible. And with a unique style and good attitude it looks like he’s sure to go far.
Name: Bryce Randol
Hometown: Kansas City, Missouri
Years shooting: 5
How did you get your start in photography?
I had always been enthralled with the idea of freezing a single moment in time, but I never thought about it beyond that. One Christmas my uncle bought a Nikon Coolpix camera for me and I started taking photos of everything and my roommate’s sister planted the idea in my head of taking photography past just a hobby. It only seemed natural to focus my efforts on BMX since I had already been riding for several years. After a month or two of getting frustrated with the shutter lag and motion blur I decided to pick up an entry-level DSLR. I spent many hours flipping through BMX magazines, posting on photo forums, and searching any questions I had on Google to learn the basics of my camera and how to make photos.
What was it like coming up shooting photos in the Kansas City scene? Did you have a good crew who supported your photography, friends who were willing to be your photo guinea pigs, so to speak?
When I started getting serious with photography I was in a small college town with only three riders total. I used myself as a subject a lot starting out, but that got old trying to time the photo just right in ten seconds. After learning the basics of lighting my friends Aaron Shaffer and Josh Hoskins were always more then willing to do a trick repeatedly for me to get the shot. I started traveling to KC more often on the weekends meeting new riders. The scene there is great! There are a lot of talented riders, and they are all willing to throw down for the camera. They have been nothing but supportive.
Quick breakdown of your gear…
For almost everything I shoot a Nikon d90 with a 50mm f1.8 lens. I have a Rokinon 8mm fisheye that serves its purpose for a decent price, and I recently acquired a Nikon 24-85mm lens that I have yet to use really. On occasion I like to shoot film in which I either use a Nikon N80 for 35mm or a Mamiya 645 1000s for 120. Lighting is pretty simple, just two Vivitar 285hv’s and a recently deceased Nikon sb-28. I also carry a lot of AA batteries, and tripods everywhere I go.
What do you focus on mainly using your 50mm lens?
It is an amazing lens for the price. I originally bought it to put my kit lens to rest. I’ve played around with wide-angle lenses and just never caught on to them. Before long I noticed that I could compose a shot with in the 50mm focal range before ever bringing the viewfinder to my eye. This started to speed up my shoots, and it was great for street photography when you have only a split second to capture the moment. I recently bought a standard zoom lens for the extra reach, but I still find the 50mm on my camera most often.
Do you have any formal photography schooling?
I graduated from Northwest Missouri State University with a B.F.A. in art/photography emphasis.
Opinions vary about whether or not going to school for photography is worth the time/money. What is your opinion? What are some of the pros and cons of taking the school route?
Most of my technical knowledge of the camera and lighting I’ve learned doing my own research. Going to school for Art taught me how to think. That may seem odd, but they teach you how to think creatively and continually ask yourself questions about your artwork. You learn how to create and develop an idea, and eventually produce one cohesive body of work. It’s also nice to have peers around who aren’t necessarily interested in the same thing as you. It’s nice to get an outsiders view of your work. The downfall for me was that I felt like school held me back from traveling a lot, and meeting different riders. When I wasn’t in class I was working and that kept me super busy, so for a while I was only able to ride and shoot on the weekends.
How do you split up your time between riding and shooting?
It depends on the day, but I never leave home without my camera and if the session is going good I have no problem putting down the bike to get some good shots.
Does it ever get hard for you to put your bike down in the middle of a good session to shoot a photo?
Not really, I get just as excited getting a good photo as I do landing a new trick, if not more so.
Which do you find yourself doing more?
It’s about a 50/50 spilt, but like I said it all depends on the day, and the overall energy of the session.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
I get inspiration from everything really. I like to watch web videos and look through photo galleries before I go out and ride, and of course the people I ride with. When they are having a good day of riding, it really motivates me to produce an image that we can both be stoked on.
What are your preferred or ideal conditions for shooting?
I enjoy the challenge of shooting pretty much anytime, however I really hate cold weather, which sucks living in Missouri where it can be 80 degrees one day, and a foot of snow on the ground the next.
What are some common frustrations you deal with while shooting?
Getting the timing on no-handers first try has always been a pain for me. When the skateparks are packed, its always a pain to ask everyone to move or time the shot around others skating or riding. Really though, I have a pretty easygoing attitude, and I don’t really get frustrated too often.
What form of BMX do you enjoy shooting the most?
I shoot park the most, but I’m really hoping to change that. I always like seeing photos where the spots are just as interesting as the trick. As long as I have a bike, a camera, and good company I’m happy shooting anywhere.
Do you enjoy shooting photos of anything else other than BMX?
Of course! I enjoy shooting street photos—documenting our modern culture for future generations to view. Robert Frank, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Vivian Maier, and Matt Stuart are a few of my street influences.
Where do you hope to go next with your photography?
Well, I just graduated college, so currently I’m looking forward to supporting our scene in KC, but eventually I would enjoy traveling all over the U.S. and even overseas shooting BMX and lifestyles outside of the Midwest.
Do you want to give any thanks?
I’d like to thank my mom and dad for all their support, Aaron Shaffer and Josh Hoskins for being down to ride pretty much whenever. Woody M. at Holdfast BMX gives us a place to ride during the winter and tells awesome stories, and any rider in the area I’ve ever shot photos with; I look forward to more great sessions with everyone.