In a sign the UCI is taking the need for better coverage of its AsiaTour more seriously, Malaysian photographer Mokhriz Aziz – known simply amongst friends and the cycling media caravan as Mike – has been engaged to follow the racing as official UCI AsiaTour photographer. Cycling iQ chats with Mike about his new role.
Who are you, and where are you from?
I am Mokhriz Aziz, or known as Mike among my friends and followers. Currently, I’m with Cycling Asia Magazine, which is a Malaysian based cycling magazine. I work as a photographer and was just recently appointed as UCI’s official photographer for Asian tour. I hail from Negeri Sembilan.
When did you start shooting bike races?
It started after I joined Cycling Asia back in 2008. I never thought when I enrolled myself in University back then that I would end up working as a cycling photographer. I came in as a coincidence when my friend introduced me to the magazine. It was tough then but now I can’t really stop!
How long have you been a photographer for?
That was eight to nine years back when I was still in university pursuing my studies in graphic design. I borrowed a camera from my friend for my assignment and the rest is history. What comes next was a bit of a surprise to everyone, simply because even when I had yet to complete my study, I was already attached to Cycling Asia, where I honed my skills and became who I am now.
What present or past photographers do you admire and why?
I admire Soraya Yusof Talismail, one of the renowned photographers in Malaysia. I love the fact that she uses film photography to take portraits. And now, I would say I love the works of Tim de Waele, one determined photographer in the cycling world. He is more towards road cycling and world tours, and I truly admire his efforts in capturing great and momentous photos.
What other jobs do you have? Can you tell us a bit about them?
I have no other jobs. I work full-time as a cycling photographer at Cycling Asia specialising in road cycling photography, but I do take pictures of other cycling disciplines too. In addition to that, I can easily claim that I am the first full time photographer specialising in cycling in my country. Most of the professional photographers are more inclined towards general photography.
THE NEW GIG
What is your role with the UCI and when does it officially start?
I am appointed as the official photographer providing photographic coverage of the UCI Asia Tour for the UCI throughout the 2012/13 season. My role with the UCI started in August 2012. To some, it may seem trivial, but to me there is an aspiration to produce better shots. I just have to justify my role better now.
When did the UCI start talking to you about this role?
Around March of 2012, right after the Asian Cycling Championships (ACC) in Kuala Lumpur.
Who at the UCI initiated the discussion?
One of the journalists of UCI that I knew, Pierre Carrey. We were discussing about cycling in general, and I told him my aspiration and dreams in cycling photography. Soon after, I received a contact from the Communications Manager of UCI, Devra Pitt Gétaz, together with a letter from the UCI that stated its recognition of my works on the UCI Asia Tour. With that, they offered me to be one of their official photographers for the races, and have high expectations of me travelling more and providing photos of good quality, revealing the soul of Asia.
What types of support will the UCI give you to help you perform this role?
So far, the UCI provides me with accreditation that gives easier pathway for me to get into events and talk to various organisations. They might provide me with more support in the future, hopefully.
Where will we be able to see your images? On the UCI website and/or elsewhere?
Yes, you would be able to view my images on the UCI official website and their social networking websites such as Facebook, Twitter and such. They intend to write reports, which might include some of the images I took as well.
Will you be at every UCI AsiaTour race? How about the WorldTour races in Asia?
If it was up to me, I would love to be at every UCI race, be it the Asia or World Tours. But I tried to be at more of the UCI races before I was accredited as the UCI official photographer, and I would prefer to cover all the tours in Asia first before heading to World tours. Well, if everyone covers events in Europe, America and such, who is going to take photos of events in Asia, yes?
What do you enjoy about pro cycling?
Pro cycling is a very tough discipline. To me, the part that I enjoy is the hardship the cyclists have to go through. Other than that, I love the environment of the races, the crowd, the way they organise the pro cycling tours and the pro cyclists that take part in the races. It has everything that are offered by other types of races like F1, motor GP albeit it’s the silent race!
Are you a cyclist also? If so, what type of riding do you enjoy?
I do enjoy cycling now due to my involvement in sport, which was not the case before. Whenever time permits I will certainly spend some time riding around with friends. The road bike suits me better than mountain biking.
What is the most challenging part of being a race photographer?
To me it would be taking photographs on a motorcycle. Carrying my camera equipment is already taking a lot of energy in me since I have so many things to put on my shoulders, and to balance myself with all that on a motorcycle is seriously hard. With the long distance that I have to endure, I can truly say that has got to be a real challenge in my years of photography. If you’re not physically fit, you really cannot survive in this line of work.
If you could change anything in pro cycling, what would it be?
I would really like to see more Asian cyclists to be included in the world of pro cycling. And mostly, to make cycling a drug free sport.
Mike’s images will continue to feature in UCI AsiaTour race reports at cyclingiq.com