Originally from New Jersey, Chris Tedesco has made his way from a small website less than 10 years ago to be one of the most prolific photographers in the motocross field. Here is his story:
Tell us a little about yourself.- I am 24 years old and am a professional photographer. I bounce around from NJ to CA year-round, shooting everything MX related event I can. I got my start racing/shooting at Englishtown, NJ when I was 12 years old. Time sure flies by!
You are recognized as one of the sports best young photographers. How did you start your photography career? My mom actually got me my first press pass at the Nassau coliseum arenacross back in 1999. She was there singing the national anthem and I asked her to see if they would let me take pictures on the floor. They said yes. Then I was lucky enough to jump on the digital bandwagon when there was no digital bandwagon in 2000. Steve “TFS” Bruhn was the only other guy out on the track using a digital camera. My mom got me an Olympus digital camera and I started my own website, motoxcentral.com. I would write race recaps and use Bruhn’s photos. It started to catch on and with the support of my family, I was able to go to outdoor nationals and Xgames at the age of 16. It was a blast.
Do you have any formal photography schooling? I took 3 photo classes when I was in High School. My classmates came to me when they had questions. Other then that, it has been a lot of trial and error, along with studying other photographers’ work.
You seemed to take that next step when you started shooting your friend Derek Berlew. Did his career steps help you with yours? Derek and I started coming up around the same time. He was doing the IFMA tour and I would go with his family to the east coast events. It definitely helped me out a lot. I got to meet a lot of the top FMX guys of today, back when they were nobodies. It helped me build great relationships and friendships with all the riders. I have always considered the Burlew’s my second family, I could count on them for anything.
Did the increasing popularity of digital photography help you with your career? The whole digital craze helped me out a lot. People were trying to jump ship from film to digital. I was already there. Even though I couldn’t afford the top-level equipment, I had a big jump on everyone else. The growing popularity of my website at the time helped a lot too. My friend John Oggiono and I were going to a lot more events and doing live updates. Not many people were doing it at that time.
You shot a bunch of freestyle when that sport was just starting to gain incredible popularity was that a secret to your success? I am not too sure. I would say my big mouth and outgoing personality was the secret to my success. I would talk to anyone when I was growing up. I met a lot of the industry big wigs when I was younger. When I was at an event, I made sure that I said hello and spark a conversation. I wanted to let them know I was at the races/FMX events.
Do you have a favorite photo that you took? There is a shot I took of mike mason back in march of 2005. We were out in Caineville, UT. It is hundreds of miles of natural terrain riding (and) there was a huge hip jump he was hitting over and over. One time he got totally flat. I had him and the jump on the left of the frame with a snow-covered mountain range filling the rest of the frame.
Who is your favorite rider to shoot? In FMX, that would have to be Todd Potter or Mike Mason. Potter is my roommate so we go shoot all the time. I know both rider’s tricks really well so it makes it a lot easier for me to get great shots of them. When it comes to racing, it would be hands down Ricky Carmichael, the guy was always on it. every shot always had so much intensity and aggression. It is hard to get a bad photo of RC.
Do you prefer freestyle or motocross photography? I love shooting FMX. I do it almost everyday, but there is nothing like the second set of motos at an outdoor national. The lighting is amazing at that time of day. You can be so creative since there are barely any restrictions when you shoot a national.
Do you have a favorite photography assignment? Any shoot with the FMX guys. I know them all really well so working with them is a breeze. I can tell them what I want and they can do the same. Things always turn out good.
Where is the coolest place you have been with your photography? Caineville, UT is amazing. There are endless possibilities out there (and) the scenery looks like you are on another planet. I can’t wait till we take another trip out there again. I haven’t had a chance to travel overseas yet. I was really looking forward to going to Rome, Italy for Redbull Xfighters, but that got canceled.
Who are some of your clients? My main clients are Metal Mulisha, Rockstar Energy drink, Osiris shoes, Dvs shoes, and Factory Effex. I work with a lot of other people, but those are my steady ones.
Is there any rider that you haven’t shot that you would like to? Can we go back in time for this one? I wish I could have shot photos of MC when he kicking everyone’s butt in the ’90s. I got to take photos of MC a couple of times, but I would love to get a one on one shoot with him. That guy is my hero.
Which photographers do you admire? Simon Cudby, Frank Hoppen, and Cameron Baird. Each has their own unique style. Their shots are top-notch and sometimes I find myself wondering how did they do that? They keep me motivated to think outside of the box.
Any closing words? Thank you to my family, especially my mom for supporting my hobby turned career over the years and the industry people who gave a punk kid from NJ a chance. I wouldn’t be here without you. You can take the kid out of Jersey, but you can’t take Jersey out of the kid.
To see Chris’ work visit his website at www.tedescophoto.com