Women Involved: Suz Forrester
I am a downhill mountain biker who lives in Wollongong Australia & I am also a photographer and I do some modeling as well.
You are a photographer! Tell us about Cupcake Photography and what inspires your art!
I have always taken photos but it wasn’t until last year that I thought I would try (after much encouragement) that I should take it to the next level so I dived into it & did my first ever shoot with a model.
Up until then I had only done landscapes. I like to see the beauty in my surroundings which is one reason I named my business Cupcake Photography…cupcakes are sweet…just like life. I am always looking at angles & lighting & textures in my surroundings thinking of how I could shoot them. It’s easy being inspired when you live where I live, beach side looking at the escarpment & up the coast line in Wollongong, Australia.
What do you enjoy most about being a photographer?
Getting to capture a moment that can be a lasting memory or creating a scene when I am shooting a model that tests your ability, along with creating something you are proud of. I recently shot a calendar for someone & have had quite a few publications in magazines now after only being at this less than 1.5 years. Seeing your own work published is really satisfying & it makes me strive to become a better photographer. You are never too old to learn something new & I not only learning more about photography & how to edit my photos but I am also learning more about myself & what I can achieve. I get the same feeling when I ride & do something new like hitting a jump. The feeling of satisfaction makes you want more & to push yourself further to test yourself.
What do you enjoy about the Pinup style culture?
I love the style of it all. People ask how I can love the 50’s when it was so degrading to women but I don’t want to be back in the 50’s as I’m pretty sure being tattooed & riding downhill bikes with boys would not be looked upon well back then. It’s the style- the hairstyles, makeup & clothing. I think it’s such a classic look & I feel comfortable dressing that way. I’m not really into the scene & rarely go to pinup events as I’m busy riding or doing my photography & most of my friends I spend the most time with are my bike riding friends who aren’t in to that culture.
What is your favorite photography project?
I’ve set myself some goals this year & it will be a couple of months until I can shoot since my foot is broken, but I have some cool ideas I have in mind for various shoots. My favorite? Hmm, I am such a lover of so many styles it’s hard to have a favourite! I want to shoot some darker themed & cooler fashion shoots as well as continuing my vintage inspired shoots plus do more landscape shoots. I love taking sunrise photos & since I am minutes away from the beach I see some amazing sunrises! My mind is continually ticking over with ideas, (the amount of times I wake up before 5am thinking about shoots & not being able to get back to sleep is crazy!) but so as long as I’m being creative & have my camera in hand I’m happy!
A topic that catches a lot of interest is the concept of sexualizing female athletes. You are a pin-up model who loves to shred! I'd love to know your thoughts on this and how you find balance.
For me it’s the perfect balance. I can frock up & get all done up & go out or do a photo shoot but I am just as happy (actually happier) to be covered in dirty riding bikes with the boys. I once dropped my bike off to be powder coated & the guy said “Oh, is this your husband’s?” I said “No, it’s mine!” He stopped & looked me up & down & said “You ride??!!” so I replied “Well not in a skirt, but yes I do!” He was quite interested & asked me a lot of questions about riding which was a positive.
It’s a tough one to escape sexualizing of female riders. Being comfortable in yourself & saying yes, I am happy to be seen in that way or no, that’s not my thing. At the same time you want to be seen as a rider not just a piece of ass. You need do what makes you happy & makes you feel comfortable.
I recently did a shoot where I am dressed as a mountain biker, full face helmet & all looking in to a mirror & my reflection is a pinup model. That is me to a tee but that is a ridiculous idea for other female friends that ride. I see myself as a rider when I ride & when I am modeling I’m still a rider, but all done up. I keep them separate but I love that I do both. You need to find the balance of your femininity instead of over sexualizing yourself. At the end of the day I love riding bikes & it shouldn’t matter how I look on or off the bike!
Do you feel that being a pinup model has at all created a negative image or positivity?
It’s definitely positive. People who don’t know me are shocked I ride, but those who know me know that modeling is just something I do sometimes when I don’t ride. I always try to make all of the elements in my life be positive. I am a rider before anything as that’s what gives me smiles for miles!
What do you love about being a role model for future women mountain bikers?
I don’t see myself as a role model as I just love riding bikes, but if someone looked up to me for riding that would be cool as it might inspire them to ride & not take themselves too seriously, which I certainly don’t. Life is right now, so if you want to ride- do it! You have nothing to lose! Be yourself. There are no rules, just awesome times to be had!
What changes would you like to see happen in the mtb industry in the next 5 years pertaining to women?
As in probably all sports the prizes & recognition is always men, then women. In downhill the girls ride/race the same course as the men. Some even hit the same big jumps as the guys but they don’t get the same coverage or the same prize money when it’s on offer.
What do you feel deters women from getting involved with cycling? Especially mountain biking?
With downhill especially, people think all you do is crash & hurt yourself. I have had so many girls & ladies come up saying I would love to do that but I’m too scared. Not knowing someone else who rides stops a lot of people riding so hopefully people who want to get in to it have a great local bike shop who can point you in the direction of meeting other people who ride. I am always encouraging men & women to ride. It’s a social sport so getting to hang out with your friends while you do something you love is the raddest thing about it.
There are more women’s groups & women’s only meetings for lessons & things like jump jams happening too; it’s definitely getting easier & awesome blogs like this one are great way to encourage women to try it!
What do you feel could happen to make changes and/or encourage more women to ride (in general)?
In Whistler they have so many ladies nights & in Canberra (Australia) there are so many ladies days/nights- so more of that! Come out & check it out to see what it’s about. Talk to other riders. You might only want to do xc, so you need to find what floats your boat. You’ll never know until you try! You could surprise yourself!
What inspires you to encourage women to ride?
I know how happy it makes me! I have met the raddest people, traveled to Canada four times to ride, had awesome adventures along the way, and pushed myself further than I thought I ever would with riding. When I know how much I love it & how happy it’s made me I want others to experience that same radness & happiness!
I like to sing when I ride, and not well either. I sing songs that are quite annoying like sunshine, lollipops & rainbows & the theme to I dream of Jeannie. If you hear me singing while I ride it means I am having an awesome day!