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Check Out Riley Bjerk’s Story

Today we’d like to introduce you to Riley Bjerk.

Hi Riley, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start, maybe you can share some of your backstories with our readers?
From a very young age, I always knew I wanted to work with and around cars. I watched car reviews such as Top Gear and the various Motortrend’s YouTube channel shows. Exposure to many automotive media developed a deep love for videography and photography. I eventually went to Northern Arizona University, where I bought my first camera and started taking graduation pictures of my friends and documenting my Flagstaff adventures in my green Ford Ranger, affectionately named “Ranger Bob.” I eventually graduated with a degree in Finance in 2019. I landed my first “big kid job” at General Dynamics Mission Systems as a Financial Analyst for Space Intelligence Systems. In my first year or so at my new job, I didn’t pick up my camera at all.

During that time, I missed photography as a creative outlet. But then, the COVID-19 pandemic struck. During the continuous period of being cooped up in my apartment working from home, I began to feel like I lacked purpose in my life. I had always wanted to be involved in the Arizona car community, and there was no better time to jump into it. I decided to pick up my camera and get acquainted with the Arizona car scene by taking photos of other people’s cool cars. My photos began gaining traction on Instagram, which brought even more clients and followers. As I got better at honing my photographic style, I began to try new techniques to differentiate myself from other photographers, and I still do this today. About a year into shooting cars, I fell in love with motorsport photography. Just like every little boy, I loved racecars growing up. Anything that goes fast or makes tires smoke still puts a childlike grin on my face. I attended my first drift event in Tucson called “Showdown.” After that, I was absolutely hooked.

Not only was it fun, but it was challenging. The culture of the motorsport community is also unlike anything else. Everyone is so nice and welcoming, and I truly feel like I am a part of a community that cares about me. Since that first Showdown drift event, I have had the opportunity to travel all over for some of the coolest grassroots motorsports events in the country. In 2021, I went to Final Bout at Willow Springs in California and Hyperfest at Virginia International Speedway. Every day on the track is brutal, but it is some of the most fun I have had in my entire life. I’ll get back to the hotel covered in rubber, exhausted and sunburnt from being in the sun, joints hurting from standing all day, and have the biggest smile on my face as I go through the photos. Then you go to bed late to get up early and do it all again. My days on the track have been some of the best days of my life. Just a few weeks ago, I reached the pinnacle of my automotive photography career so far, and that was photographing the 100th running of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. This was my toughest challenge yet and was extraordinary to be a part of.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not, what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
It has not been a smooth road. I am frequently plagued with periods where I am uninspired or unmotivated. The cause of this can range from not feeling up to par with other photographers or just being unhappy with how a shoot turned out. However, there always comes a time when I snap out of it and get back to shooting.

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
I am an automotive and motorsport photographer. I do photoshoots for individuals who would like high-quality photos of their vehicle(s), whether on track or off. I also do photoshoots for individuals or businesses looking to sell their cars on a high-end auction site. I believe that I am known for my motorsport/drift photography and for telling a story with my photos. I am most proud of being able to shoot the 100th running of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. I believe my posting style sets me apart from the others. I like to incorporate some artistic designs as I try to give the viewer a unique vibe of the event/shoot.

What do you like best about our city? What do you like least?
I love the desert scenery. I have talked to some out-of-state photographers, and many mention how cool it must be to shoot with the desert scenery. However, on the flip side, the heat is brutal, especially when you get detailed shots of a running car when it is 110 degrees out. The air coming off of the car doesn’t exactly cool you off.

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