How To Get Your Photos Picked For Trail Mix: Better Your Chances With Better Photos

Trail Mix takes a break from the usual themes (like deserts, dogs and dumb moves) and devotes this month to tips for making the Trail Mix cut. You see, we get a steady flow of photos, but most of these shots are not useable. We’ll show you why and give you a few ideas on how to improve your chances.


We receive more bike photos than any other category. First, it has to have a stunning background to make the cut. Second, if you are going to show the bike, show the bike. This shot looks like the rider just high-sided off the trail. Third, we like to see people. Learn to use the camera’s self-timer and get yourself in the shot.  


If you are going to send us a shot of your bike, make sure you prop it up in front of an epic background. This shot makes us want to go ride. It could have been better. We would have liked to see the photographer, Ben Watson, of Layton, Utah, in his photo.


This one hits all our marks. Ryan Shepherd from Ogden, Utah, poses with his bike, picks a great time of day (photos always look better really early in the morning or just before sunset), lets us see the trail going off in the distance, and even identifies the trail as the Bonneville Shoreline Trail.


We agree with this little man that Mountain Bike Action is great bathroom reading material, but come on, Dad, do you think he is going to thank you for this photo in five years? We get a lot of these, and it is a little too much of a clich‚ to use them.


If you submit a photo of your kid, learn from what Javier Ramirez sent us. The shot of Javier kicking it with his bike is good to begin with, and the lighting is great, too. Making it even better, Javier included, “I’m a 4-year-old who loves mountain bike riding. Everyday after school, my dad and I ride the American River trails in Sacramento, California. Trail riding is my passion. I hope to someday be a professional downhill rider.”


Michael McClure sent us this shot of his 8-year-old son Toby rolling a kicker on the trail at Space Mountain (Los Robles Open Space) in Newbury Park, California. The action is perfect and appropriate for a rider of this age. We shy away from pictures of kids doing sky shots or riding terrain that is too technical, because while the youngster in the photo may have mad skills, not all kids that age do. We want to discourage little league dads from egging their kids on for the sake of a photo.


We have to sort through 100 jump shots to find 10 useable images. It is very hard to capture sharp action images on a phone or point-and-shoot camera. A blurry shot is not going to make the cut.


This image sent in by Josh Hennessey of Palm Coast, Florida, uses a technique known as off-camera flash to freeze the action and produce a sharp jump photo. Nice.


This image already breaks our sharpness rule, but we have another issue with it. Is this a legal riding area? There is no way for us to determine if every photo submitted was taken on a trail open to mountain biking or if it is a poached trail. If you ride off trail, you won’t see your photo here. If you made an illegal trail, don’t send us a photo.

1. Image file size needs to be 600 KB or larger.
2. Tell us what is going on in the photo and include names.
3. Include your name, city and the state where you live.
4. E-mail it to [email protected]

To see more “Trailmix” shots click here.

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