Between the Motos: Ryan Cropley

June 21, 2006 7:32am

For you aspiring moto-photographers out there, you may want to read this: Etnies and Racer X are bringing you the unique opportunity to submit your very best MX photos for the chance at getting those photos published in the pages of Racer X Illustrated! This contest was the brainchild of 22-year-old Ryan Cropley, the Etnies online content editor for motocross, BMX, and surfing and an aspiring photographer himself. We spoke to Ryan today about the contest and his role at one of the main shoe sponsors in the motocross industry. You can also check out Ryan’s personal website at

Etnies' Ryan Cropley
photo courtesy of Ryan Cropley
Racer X: First off, Ryan, there is a very cool contest going on between us here at Racer X and you guys at Etnies. You want to explain to our readers what exactly it is?
Ryan Cropley: Yeah, it’s a photography contest where anyone can submit their best motocross-related photos, and it’s up to the staff at Racer X to choose the top 10. And once the top 10 is chosen, we’re going to post them up on for a vote and it’ll be up to the readers who they think has the best photo overall. But all of the top 10 photos will be printed in both Racer X and

Where did the idea come from?
The idea pretty much just came from me. I like photography a lot, and I recently got my first shots in Racer X. I figured that’s something I’d like to do, so I’m sure other people would like it, so that’s where it came from.

So this is the first time you've done a contest like this?
Actually, I set up a contest with Dig BMX magazine. I’m also the editor for Etnies' BMX site, and that contest went really well and all of the kids were stoked. We got a ton of entries and I thought it would work well with the motocross industry.

What are some of the major guidelines people have to follow?
We definitely just want to keep it motocross-related. And anyone who wants to enter can go to our website for the official rules or to enter.

The Etnies MX team includes Yamaha of Troy's McFarlane and Metcalfe
photo: Simon Cudby
Is this contest open for anyone, or is it possible for us to see entries from someone like Simon Cudby or Tony Scavo on there?
Well, we’re hoping that Simon is going to be one of the judges, so hopefully he won’t enter [laughs]! We’re not going to tell anyone they can’t enter, but it’s definitely focused toward the non-professional photographer.

Will you be posting all the submissions on your website, as well?
What we’re planning on doing is, after the round of the contest and we have the top 10, I’m going to put a photo gallery on there with all of the entries. So whoever submits a photo will be able to see it on And I’m sure you guys will post it on your website, too.

So besides the winner getting their picture published in Racer X, what kind of prizes can they expect from Etnies?
A couple pairs of shoes and a ton of clothing, including sweatshirts, T-shirts, jeans, socks—the whole nine yards. Just a full swag pack. And the top 10 will get a pair of Etnies shoes and a T-shirt.

How many pair of shoes do you currently own?
I couldn’t even tell you, I just got a fresh pair today [laughs]! I dig the Artos. I did an interview with Nick Wey not too long ago and I know he digs the Artos, too. But man, I probably have 20 pair of shoes at home.

Besides Nick Wey, who are some of your top motocross athletes?
We have the whole SoBe/Samsung team, minus Kevin Windham. We have the Yamaha of Troy guys, Team Honda’s Travis Preston, and of course the top freestyle guys with Brian Deegan and Twitch. We also have Seth Enslow and Trigger Gumm, who’s going to be going for the world record here pretty soon in Vegas, going over 300 feet.

Team Honda's Travis Preston is also an Etnies-sponsored athlete
photo: Simon Cudby
That’s a pretty solid lineup.
Yeah, I think so. The Yamaha of Troy team has been killing it lately. All of our riders are really doing well and we’re very pleased.

How did you get involved with motocross, and how did you work into a position at Etnies?
I started riding when I was 13 with some friends in San Clemente. Then Cameron Steele moved right down the street, and I just started riding with him a lot and was hooked. I mostly started going to freestyle contests and became friends with all of the Mulisha guys. I just started out like that and been around it for a while. I then became good friends with Matt Chapman through all of those guys and the opportunity came up and I took it. I started working here in March of last year and it’s going really well. Even though it’s a core skate company, they’re all about motocross.

Since you hang out with the Mulisha, you could probably throw a seat-grab or two, right?
Well, I always rode with those guys, but I never really felt the need to jump off my bike and try and do stuff like that. I just have fun going out trail riding in the hills and going to Beaumont or Ocotillo Wells.

But it helps being a rider yourself, because you probably have a greater respect for what these guys are doing on their motorcycles.
Yeah, I definitely respect what these guys do.

What advice would you offer someone who is reading this and would maybe like to get a job in the action-sports industry with a company like Etnies?
For me, it was just all about who I know. I think networking was the key to getting my job, and I’d encourage people just to build solid relationships.

To enter the Etnies/Racer X Photography contest, click here.