Photography duo Emiliano Granado, 35, and Daniel Wakefield Pasley, 41, approached their project “Manual for Speed” the way their subjects would enter a race – as a team.
“We wanted to be embedded with the team,” Granado told CNN via e-mail.
Castelli, an Italian maker of cycling clothing and accessories, had begun sponsoring the American road cycling outfit Team Exergy in 2011. Granado and Wakefield asked Castelli if they could document the cyclists that year.
“That was the first year they were sponsoring Team Exergy, so it was a no-brainer that we would document their first year as a pro team,” Granado said.
The pair documented the roller-coaster ride of Team Exergy for two years, from the team’s jump to the pro ranks in 2011 to its final race at the seven-stage USA Pro Cycling Challenge in August 2012. Granado and Pasley’s pursuit of “access and candor” in documenting the riders was their biggest challenge throughout the entirety of the project.
Professional cycling teams, like other professional sports teams, are very tightly run by management. Access to riders and behind-the-scenes moments is almost completely restricted. By negotiating with Team Exergy’s sponsors, Granado and Pasley were able to capture moments most photographers never get to see – and, in turn, the public rarely sees.
“Team Exergy was an amazing and beautiful experience,” Pasley said. “They basically let us all the way in, they totally welcomed us, nothing was off limits. And so by the end of the second year, we heard everything, and saw everything.”
Instead of focusing solely on actual races, Pasley said, he and Granado were more interested in what was happening “left and right of the podium.”
“These guys give up a ton of stuff in order to race their bikes,” Granado said. “We don't see (‘Manual for Speed’) as a cycling project. We see it as a documentary about peoples' lives that happens to revolve around cycling. We want to know everything about each person.”
Granado and Pasley’s photographs humanize athletes in a sport that, despite having a history dating back to the late 19th century in Europe, is still under the radar to most Americans.
“For the most part, road cycling media (reporting) is about results,” Pasley said. “’Manual for Speed’ is about the reality of being a professional cyclist. The entire reality. The whole thing. It’s about the pursuit of speed from an honest and human and intimate point of view.”
Team Exergy, which was founded in 2009, lost its sponsorship and the team disbanded in late 2012. However, Granado and Pasley hope to continue “Manual for Speed” for 10 to 20 years, with the idea of isolating certain people, themes and stories that arise from the pursuit of speed.
- Raymond McCrea Jones, CNN