The Inside Line Podcast - Sven Martin, Photographer, Storyteller, MTB Superfan 30

Enjoy a long, candid interview with one of mountain biking's greatest photographers and storytellers.

The Inside Line Podcast - Sven Martin, Photographer, Storyteller, MTB Superfan


As one of mountain biking's greatest photographers and storytellers, Sven Martin's name should ring out to anyone who's been on Vital MTB or picked up a magazine in the last 10 years. His images and interviews capture the atmosphere and emotion of the World Cup and Enduro World Series in a way that only those of a true mountain biking superfan can. The South African's immersion and investment in our sport started by chance after his wife Anka picked up a bike while they were living in Southern California. Through riding, racing and photography, he has carved out  the dream life; traveling the world, riding bikes and taking photos of his adventures. His success, however, comes from passion, hustle and hard work that many don't get to see.

Sven is a friend of mine, but I still look at him as the greatest storyteller in mountain biking right now, and he's a huge reason for Vital's success throughout the years. Our interview is long, but it's full of inspiration, information and plenty of laughs because that's just what happens when he's around. Thank you, Sven. It's an honor to have you on the show. -gordo

photos by @maddogboris and Dan Hearn

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  • Acadian

    9/22/2017 8:08 AM

    Sven - I still remember the first time we ran into each other in Big Bear - Red McDonald jersey I believe. Man I miss those days.

    But since you don't use Lr you are dead to me... ;o)

    Best Podcast yet...

  • Sven Martin

    11/19/2017 8:46 PM

    Yeah you always had the neatest most tricked out bikes. Maybe they were too clean though. LR - too many people using other peoples presets and filters. And that could lead to laziness and perhaps too much digital design and not enough old school photography. I do use Adobe so I'm still keeping you employed dont worry.

  • sspomer

    9/18/2017 5:00 PM

    thanks for all the rad comments everyone. it was a fun one w/ sven for sure. re: bring back littermag and/or speechbubbles. here ya go.,2018

  • bizutch

    9/17/2017 8:33 PM

    Only thing our team did better than Sven's was we picked white frame/black/grey graphic. They wen't grey/black/red. They were faster...we looked faster. Never forget that Sven!

    Also, it deserves to be said that Sven is PASSIONATE. He had a cover for Dirt that I made an off hand comment about, just trying to be silly, and he sent me a direct message trying to let me know how valuable he considered the shot and didn't appreciate the disparaging commentary when he was trying to make a living.

    Some people might get butthurt or get offended by him responding to my jab, but I appreciated it 100%. I knew right then and there from our conversation that he was a very hard working photog who was taking his job seriously and passionately.

    That...and he can make Fraser mad...which I still enjoy. guys didn't even TOUCH on Ridemonkey funk!!!

  • Sven Martin

    11/19/2017 8:40 PM

    Ha. You did but then we went even tricker for Andrew Neethlings and Ankas custom Worlds Bikes.
    I can't remember which Dirt Cover you are referring to but i do have a lot of Josh Bryceland shots i can send you. :-)

  • bizutch

    11/19/2017 9:06 PM

    Rennie. Gravel drift.

  • mshuster

    9/16/2017 5:40 AM

    I could listen to 2 more hours of his stories.

  • samrphoto

    9/16/2017 3:49 AM

    Thanks for sharing your story Sven, was a very enjoyable 90 minutes

  • Allen_Gleckner

    9/15/2017 6:53 PM

    Make note for what's in and out 2017: having visor too high

  • ML

    9/15/2017 6:30 AM

    Upload speech bubbles on soundcloud!

  • kidwoo

    9/14/2017 7:22 PM

    SPAYCH BUHBUHLZZ!!!!!!!!!!! Hell yeah. Good stuff guys.

  • Mwood

    9/14/2017 8:51 AM

    My biggest take away - bring back Littermag!
    At least as a historical piece to teach the new kids what the real deal is. Quick little gogglizing and found this, which funny enough i posted in back when i was grom ->

  • Mwood

    9/14/2017 8:54 AM

    also found this historic Press Release on Littermag: " This issue is absolute purity – produced under strict editing control, Litter has been aged to 46 links" ->

  • Ahab

    9/14/2017 5:40 AM

    Best one yet. And they've all been good.

  • Jon_Hanson

    9/14/2017 4:41 AM

    Worth the wait. Such a good podcast. Thank you Sven for all you do. And thank you Spomer for creating this podcast. Makes my day go by so much better at work. Thanks!

  • ricardosafreire

    9/13/2017 11:39 PM

    Pure gold!

  • Balfaboy

    9/13/2017 10:32 PM

    by far the best podcast yet. I think longer is better! Lets get some depth here. We are surround by interesting people in mountain biking. Up to this point a lot of these podcasts felt like ads for the brands or the latest bike coming out. Lets dig deeper!! Great work vital and much love for all that Sven does.

  • zuman

    9/13/2017 8:43 PM

    follow up question from a photo nerd, what is your camera rig of choice when you really need to go compact and simple yet still need more that camera phone? is it still the m43 if so what lens do you use? thanks, i hope sven reads this, as i'm in the process of rebuilding my arsenal. thanks

  • Sven Martin

    11/19/2017 8:46 PM

    Sorry for the late answer. Finally the seasons work has slowed down and catching up to unfinished business :-)
    I used the Olympus Micro 4/3 OMB system for a good couple of years and was pretty happy with it when the light was good and the shots could be somewhat planned or wider and scenery focused VS cutting edge tightly timed action. I now have a sony a6500 which is a good replacement. Better tracking AF for action, better low light performance. I did not go the Sony full frame route a lot of others have taken because i want my "compact" adventure big day set up to be just that. Small and compact. The crop lenses are a bit smaller and lighter. Going any bigger and ill just take my Canon 5Dmkiv. I find the smaller and lighter the camera the more often i will take it along on everyday rides where unplanned photos or light present themselves at random.

  • zuman

    11/19/2017 9:23 PM

    Thanks for the reply,
    I find that riding hurt and injured has motivated me to be a lot more generous and take pictures of my friends when we ride. This prompted the need to bring some real cameras with me, Was really intrigued by the aps-c and micro 43 cams with built in lenses from Canon and Panasonic, but haven't seen it used by pros in very difficult circumstances that you guys get in to, specially on EWS races, I'm nit really that concerned with the image quality but more on how much abuse they can take, I'm not the type that's very cautious with my stuff.

  • Sven Martin

    11/19/2017 9:51 PM

    There is always a compromise somewhere when it comes to choosing the right gear when it comes to size. Usually the built in lens (non interchangeable) type cameras have their limitations due to trying to be something for everything. Either with variable apertures or very small sensors or not wide enough lenses. I use a g7X for some point and shoot style photography (some camera is better than no camera) But nowadays fortunately (or unfortunately depending on your perspective) phone cameras can even do the job used in the right situations.
    Ive had full page action shots run in print shot on older model iPhones a few years ago. Considering the medium the shot is to be used or shared via can also determine your specific camera choice too. ever evolving.

  • zuman

    11/19/2017 10:09 PM

    i agree about the capabilities of camera phones right now, The LG G6 with the wide angle camera option is cool. Was really considering the A6300 as it availble at bargain prices now, but the lack usable compact zoom lens puts me off it. i know the kit lens is very good but i'm guessing would be a bit too slow when under the canopy, The primes are the only options, which i guess is what you use mostly.

  • grinch

    9/13/2017 3:38 PM

    "Your dad's all calm and then there's you huh?" Too funny. Interviews have been great. Fresh content


    9/13/2017 2:47 PM

    This podcast was the best on yet.. Keep up the good work. Really joying them.

  • Alastair_Ronaldson

    9/13/2017 2:27 PM

    Great interview, thank you.

  • Hristo_Tanev

    9/13/2017 1:01 PM

    Another awesome episode! Thanks for this guys! I am always waiting for the slideshows to come, because they are THE BEST and most insightful coverage! Really glad to hear all the colourful stories of Sven! Cheers!

  • Sven Martin

    11/19/2017 8:48 PM

    Cheers. Its always about the story. The photos are almost secondary half the time. Gary Perkin and Duncan Philpott and I would often have these perfect captions floating around in our heads for certain riders or situations that we were itching to use in a slideshow and just waiting until the perfect photo moment presented itself to run.

  • sideshow

    9/13/2017 12:28 PM

    Another great history lesson!

  • Sven Martin

    11/19/2017 8:49 PM

    Hopefully future inspiration too. Not dead yet! ha

  • malle

    9/13/2017 7:22 AM

    just want to say how much I appreciate this podcast series, fantastic work!
    Especially getting to know what drives these mtb personalities from all different angles of the industry personally and how they got to be where they are now is super fascinating and creates amazing charactes surrounding the racing scene.

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