Righteous Goodness

“Graham Agassiz during the filming of Darklight in Big Water, Utah. Part of the thrill of this shoot was not only finding cool lines for the bros to shred, but also creating the lighting recipe with Michael Brown and Zach Ramras of Sweetgrass Productions.”

Righteous Goodness Sterling Lorence, a Messiah of Light

You could suppose that photographers are artists at their soul.

That they’re master technicians, the camera a second extension of themselves. Or that they’re messiahs of light and how to capture it. And I could never answer those questions. I’m not a photographer. Just a friend. All I know is the story of how a kid who loved his backyard ended up creating a career whereby he could share it with the world.

The story starts some four decades ago. Sterling Lorence and I were lucky little buggers. His house was spectacularly positioned at the confl uence of a creek and the ocean. I lived just up the street. We were groms in paradise, and we knew it. We’d fish for fl ounders in our little dingies and have rock fi ghts on the beach. We lived on a circular road with little traffic and lots of kids, and from our earliest memories, we were riding bikes, exploring, and in the rare event we got bored, causing trouble. It was the late ’70s and early ’80s in West Vancouver, British Columbia, what is today one of the richest communities in Canada. Back then, though, it felt like we were living in the backwater.

I remember Sterl being especially drawn to Cypress Creek. He could practically see it from his bedroom window. The creek was an entity unto itself. In the winter it would pound with huge chocolate flow, full of debris and thunder. In the summer, a trickle of crystal clear mountain water. From Sterl’s house, when the water was low, we’d often clamber up the waterway. It would soon turn into narrow canyons and pools, then waterfalls and cliffs. Every year, as we grew older and braver, we’d venture farther up the creek, until we found ourselves in the heart of coastal old-growth forest. Trees hundreds of years old, draped with mosses and mist, under columns of rare light navigating its complex canopy, giant ferns and salal. Often, when the creek canyon became too steep and dangerous, we would clamber onto its upper banks. It’s here we found our first trails.

By now it was the mid ’80s and my dad got a Miyata Ridge Runner from the Deep Cove Bike Shop. It was one of the first mountain bikes in West Van. We were astounded, blown away, we had to have one. So we hunkered down on paper routes, saved our dollars and bought our first real mountain bikes. Not surprisingly, we went straight to those trails.

“My parents let us roam in free time,” Sterling says. “Just be home for lunch or dinner. For fun we simply went outside and explored the creek and the beach tideline. Never did it not captivate me. I loved hiking up the creek, into its canyons, beneath the forest. It was raw and pure, dangerous and inspirational. That mood in nature is why I fell in love with mountain biking. We could roam in the woods and get a thrill, too. All those inspirations and moods and feelings are the foundation of what
I most love to shoot.”

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