Behind The Lens: Peter Jamison
Pete’s work started showing up on the internet well before any of us new his name. As consumers, it’s easy to fall into the pattern of viewing video and photo content without appreciating the blood, sweat and tears that go into their creation. “Civilian” and “Grasp” were his first major projects on Pinkbike. At that time I didn’t put much thought into the person who had created these masterpieces. Then “Passion” came out in 2018 and I knew I had to talk to Pete. The number of 19 year-olds alive today who have the grit and tenacity to produce a 30 minute short film on their own dime is few. Pete is special, not only because of his skills behind a lens, but because of his insane work ethic. He puts consistent, focused practice into his craft always working to become better. As a rider and trail builder, Pete has a unique perspective, able to tell the story of our sport as an insider. Expect to see much more from Peter Jamison as a filmmaker, photographer, and rider in the coming months. It's exciting to see this next generation documenting mountain biking and taking film to the next level.
Tell us a bit about yourself:I am a 19 year old filmmaker, photographer, mountain bike rider, trail builder, and van dweller from down by the river.
How long have you been shooting photos and videos?I’ve been making videos here and there since I was about 12. At first, I used my $20 cell phone with zip ties to attach it to the frame of my bike. Then for my 13th birthday, I was given a GoPro Hero3, which was a huge bump up from the zip tied cell phone routine. After running the GoPro for a few years making self-filmed videos for fun, I got a Canon T2i for my 15th birthday and that changed everything. Since getting that camera, I've shot a photo nearly every day.
Were you self-taught or have you had any formal training?I am 95% self taught from YouTube videos and making mistakes in the field. The other 5% of formal training is from a program at my high school where I helped produce a news show. That program didn’t teach me too much on the technical side of things, but it really helped with storytelling. When editing ‘Passion’ in particular, I was very grateful for my experience in that program.
How did you move from amateur to professional photographer and videographer?The move from amateur to professional photographer/videographer was natural for the most part. Gradually as my work got up to par with other creatives, I began to get some paid work from a few brands. With that being said however, the biggest transition came when I graduated high school in June of 2018. Since then I have been shooting full time as my only income.
Being a mountain bike athlete yourself, how did you get into the sport?I got into the sport through my father's interest in mountain biking. He had an old cross country hardtail in the garage with XTR components that I thought was the sickest bike ever. When I was in the 6th grade we went to the local trails for the first time. I was on a 20” BMX with a coaster brake and we only rode for a short time. After a few rides on that 20” I got a 26” hardtail and found MTB videos on Pinkbike.com. Since then I've been obsessed with riding.
How does being a rider influence your work with a camera?Being a rider influences my work with a camera in two ways. The first is that I have a close relationship with the athletes I work with. If I'm filming dirt jumps or a skatepark, I'll warm up riding with the athlete for 20-30 minutes and then start filming. The second way in which being a rider influences my work with a camera is that I am able to visualize every trick or maneuver that I'm shooting.
Was there a specific moment where you knew it was more than just a hobby?My first time shooting ‘MTN Mods’ for Red Bull with Aaron Chase was when I realized that I could do something with media work. I was 17 at the time and couldn’t even drive myself to the shoot. I learned so much from that shoot and am grateful for the experience.
How long have you been shooting mountain biking?I've been shooting mountain biking since I started messing around with my cell phone when I was twelve and got my first GoPro. With that being said, nearly all of those early videos were self-filmed videos of me riding. My first summer with my T2i in 2015 is when I really began to consistently shoot other riders.
Do you shoot anything else besides mountain biking?Every once in a while I'll shoot some landscapes, portraits or film a corporate video, but 99% of my shooting is centered around bikes.
Have you done any work for paid clients?Definitely, some of my clients include: Red Bull, Monster Energy, REI, Pivot Cycles, GT Bicycles, HT Components and Camelbak.
When did you start filming ‘Passion’? How did that come about?The earliest footage used in the film was shot in July of 2017. My first time intentionally shooting for the movie was in January of 2018 with Nicholi at Rye Airfield. My concept for the film came about during the summer of 2017 when the earliest footage in the film was shot. That summer I watched Reed Boggs and Nic Hilton learning flat drop backflips. Observing their process to learn a new trick was something I had never witnessed and it sparked the initial concept for ‘Passion’.
What made you decide to create a feature-length mountain biking film?Of course, there were many factors that made me decide to tackle a full-length project. There was one phone call in particular that really convinced me to create ‘Passion’. In the Fall of 2017, I was driving to Woodward Camp in Pennsylvania for a shoot with BMX Rider Jay Dalton. On the drive down I got a call from Clay Harper who runs the US Open. Before hopping off of the call, he asked if I had any goals for the coming year. I am not sure why, but I said that I wanted to do a full-length project. Fast forward a few short months and I was filming.
What is your favorite thing to shoot?Bikes, bikes, and more bikes.
What’s the most enjoyable project you’ve worked on?I really enjoyed working on ‘Momentum’ with David Lieb. We were living in the parking lot at Highland and shot the entire video on an iPhone. Love the simplicity of that video.
What photo are you most proud of?The photo I have of Brett Rheeder with the Rampage trophy. It's not that the photo is spectacular by any means, but rather what it represents for me. I consider myself to have an intense work ethic, but Rampage took it to another level. From day one when riders got to the site until the last day I was pinned. Brett and I worked together the entire event to produce unique content for his Instagram and then to have him win was the icing on the cake.
Which photographers do you admire?Ian Collins, Dave Trumpore, and Sterling Lorence have been my biggest source for inspiration for photos since I began shooting when I was 15. Each week I go through the photos on their websites.
What filmmakers do you admire?On the film making side of things Rupert Walker, Harrison Mendel, and Nic Genovese are my biggest inspiration and the reason why I got stoked on making mountain bike videos. In my opinion, their work is always one step above the rest of the field.
What do you like to do in your spare time?If I am not shooting, editing or working, I'm riding. If I'm not riding, I'm either sleeping or watching bike videos.
What advice would you pass on to aspiring photographers and video makers?Work as hard as you possibly can at everything you do.
Is there anything else we should know about you?Expect heaps more content from me in the near future!