[Editor’s Note: This article is photographed and written by Jean-Baptiste Joly. After a 10-year career in the banking industry, Jean-Baptiste now splits his time between the Alps and the Pyrénées in Europe to pursue his passion for outdoor sports and photography. He believes photography is a way to keep and cherish memories of moments that are unique. He also believes that a picture is a way to question, to imagine, and to dream. You can reach him at [email protected] and see his work on Instagram at @jb_joly.]
At the beginning of 2016, after more than a decade of training and racing, I was so tired of cycling that I sold my three bikes and all my equipment. At that time, I was based in Paris, France, and the easiest way to stay fit was running. My new endeavor was not love at first stride, but I liked the simplicity: a pair of shoes, shorts, and endorphins.
After a few weeks, I became more and more interested in the sport, reading race reports, and watching videos. Then I discovered my inspiration: Anton Krupicka. It sounds cliché, but I felt so inspired by his personality and lifestyle. So that summer, I decided to spend a week running in the Alps.
I camped at Vallorcine, a small village in the Chamonix Valley of France, and my love affair with trail running began. I was hooked on the landscapes, as well as a feeling of freedom which reminded me of my childhood. As a family, we spent our summer holidays in the mountains. Trail running became a big part of my life and has been my platform for adventures ever since.
Our sport is highly photogenic, and I was in awe of the book Grand Trail: A Magnificent Journey to the Heart of Ultrarunning by Frédéric and Alexis Berg. Photography came into my life a few years into my trail running experience. I learned with a 15-year-old camera given to me by my dad a few months before I decided to quit my job in banking and finance.
Spending that following summer taking pictures of the sport I loved sounded like a great idea, so I went. I was initially obsessed with landscapes; my goal was to show the beauty of nature we are lucky to experience.
The more I photographed, the more I thought I was missing something, so I focused my lens closer and closer to runners. With my photos, I try to answer the questions of who are they, what do they feel, and why do they run?
Both mountains and human beings are a source of emotion and inspiration, and that’s what I try to capture. This gallery sums up my intention during the summer of 2021, my first as a photographer.