They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and motocross is no different. This year, the guys at Align Media helped us tell the stories of the season through the lens of their multiple cameras. Simon Cudby, Rich Shepherd, Mike Emery, and Cole Beach all contribute here at Racer X and have created Align Media, a collective media group. You have seen their work each week in the post-race interviews, breaking news updates, race preview pieces, and more—including mammoth photo galleries from each round—plastered all over RacerXOnline.com.
For this week’s 3 on 3, we asked these shooters to talk about their five favorite photos from the 2021 Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship and the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship. Here we go!
#1- Barcia- Houston 2 Supercross
Classic style from Justin Barcia over the finish line jump. I positioned myself part way into the stadium tunnel to grab this shot using my Nikon D5 and 300mm f2.8 lens.
#2- Cianciarulo- RedBud National
I had to brave the crowds in the tunnel under the final jump at RedBud to get this rear 3/4 shot of Adam Cianciarulo with the great form.
#3- Roczen- Honda Supercross Track
It was getting later in the afternoon on a cloudy day in early December at the Honda test track in Corona, California. Ken Roczen found a transition jump off the side of the finish line landing over to the next lane. Ken’s skill and the stormy weather makes for a cool shot.
#1 - Kenny and Dylan, Fox Raceway 2 National
Watching the best riders in the world battle it out weekly never gets old, and these two put on an absolute show this summer. I love this shot of Kenny Roczen and Dylan Ferrandis giving a proper handshake displaying the utmost sportsmanship right after Dylan had come across the line to win his first Lucas Oil 450 Class Pro Motocross title. Racers everywhere, take notes.
#2 - Cooper Webb, Unadilla National
There’s nothing like capturing the rawness and emotion in our athletes as they achieve their dreams, and this one of Jalek Swoll is an image I loved the moment I shot it. Jalek is a great rider and awesome personality, and this first supercross podium was a big moment for him.
Bonus – Ken Roczen, Orlando Supercross
We shoot thousands and thousands of photos every year, so I really find it impossible to pick my favorites—all of these are photos that came to mind that I enjoyed buy I know right after this article goes live I’ll think “Why didn’t you choose that one!?!” For that reason, I want to throw in this wildcard of Ken Roczen blasting into the Orlando metaverse with his mechanic Jordon Troxell standing by. These guys are top notch and I love this photo.
Bonus 2 – Curren Thurman and Rich Shepherd, Indianapolis Supercross
Every photog’s worst nightmare came true for Rich Shepherd at round two this year when Curren Thurman’s bike launched off track directly into Rich’s face while he was shooting. Before I even found out this happened, he was in the ambulance to the ICU and spent a couple nights there recovering before they kicked him out with worry he would catch COVID-19 in there and general overcrowding concerns (his ribs were broken/lungs were bruised/one collapsed.) All that said, he overcame huge pain and injury to come back a few rounds later! To surprise him I had my good friend Matt Rice draw up a ridiculous sticker of him breaking a bike in half. Getting him and Curren together for a pic was a must, especially with Curren running the sticker. This one had to be in our top photos of the year! Love you, Rich!
#1 – Dylan Ferrandis, Fox Raceway
Capturing the emotion of Dylan’s first premier class championship was something special. That was honestly one of the first times you could finally see a sense of relief and happiness from him. That piece of plastic he’s gripping with all his strength is something he’s fought his whole life for, left his home in France for, left friends and family for, and honestly took a huge risk for in going out and attempting to achieve his dreams. In this photo you see all those sacrifices paying off. Plus, for me, the podium during a championship celebration is a hectic place with more people than normal and everyone wanting that special #1 plate photo, so being in the right place rubbing elbows with other media personal and walking away with images like this is rewarding.
#2 – Cooper and Lawrence, Unadilla
Another one of my favorites is this shot of Jett and Justin coming into the first corner at the Unadilla National. The two were neck and neck for most of the summer fighting for the championship and with them coming into the first corner side by side it was a perfect description of their everlasting battle. What makes it so special to me is that it was my first Racer X cover of my career, growing up and getting into photography it was always a dream to be able to say, “I’ve landed a cover” and this year it was my big goal to achieve, while working alongside people like Mike, Simon, and Rich, who have landed countless covers. It’s not the perfect photo or wildly creative but what it does do is it tells the story of the season between these two. It was a lot of “right place right time” for me to be there to grab it, but that also takes some skill to put yourself there. Even better, this happened at Unadilla, and since I'm from Connecticut, this is my secondary “home” track (outside of Southwick) so it hit a little more for me when I got the news. Here’s to hopefully some more!
#3- Aaron Plessinger, Redbud
RedBud MX is “America’s motocross track” and there is no rider that exemplifies the “American” vibe more than AP. Mike Emery had grabbed some sweet photos on the starting line of Aaron as he’s holding his hand over his heart for the national anthem while wearing an American flag vest, and he then rips the holeshot and, being the guy he is, looks back at the crowd of 39 riders behind him! You can just see the excitement from his body language and how much this meant to him. He’s a stand-up guy who people enjoy being around and when he did this, people went nuts on social reposting this photo and sharing the emotion of just being so stoked for him. I remember in the moment thinking There is no way he just did that! And going to review my photo and just smiling that it was such a cool moment I was able to capture, and although he may have not won the moto, he definitely got the crowd going nuts and had the most fun out there.
#1 – Cooper Webb, Atlanta Supercross
How can you not like a photo of Barcia? This one is from press day, where riders flew down this lane towards my lens while running an abbreviated track. Kind of cool because this photo was only possible on press day.
#3 – Cooper Webb, Orlando 2 Supercross
Cooper Webb was very impressive this year and proved his dominance with the 2021 Monster Energy AMA Supercross title. This win in Orlando was a photo I really liked because to take a shot like this, it is hard to balance the exposure of the flames to the action/ambient light in the stadium. Happy with how this one came out.
Bonus – Gabe and Family, St. Jude at Indy Supercross
Sometimes in life, you meet people that inspire you through their situations and actions and Gabe and his family are exactly that. I met them through St. Jude colleagues at supercross via Ryan Dungey years ago and have followed his journey since then. This shot of them while attending the Indianapolis Supercross this year is special because while we are all so busy doing our photography jobs on Saturday, it only took a second to capture this great memory for their family. Stay strong, Gabe.