Camille McMillan photographer
Friend and gent.
This has been a long time coming, I’ve been way too slack and needed a nudge. The nudge finally came from reading Max Leonard’s Higher Calling, a book that asks the question “Why do road cyclists go to the mountains? Many books tell you where the mountains are, or how long and how high. None of them ask ‘Why?’”.
Max is a good friend of Camille’s and they’ve collaborated on a number of projects. I picked up the book because of my ride in June, The big Sommet AFGO. My route had been inspired by a number of things, but reading Max’s book has made me add a number of climbs and diversions to climbs which I’ve not done before.
Although I’ve admired Camille’s work for as long as I can remember, I didn’t meet him until late 2017. I had seen his pictures in a variety of Rapha publications, Rouleur, through his own work about pro-racing, Circus and in the book Le Metier together with Michael Barry. Cycling for me is about discovering amazing places and inspiring others to go there with me. Camille’s images do that for me, they bring a place to life and make me want to go there, to ride and to experience it for myself.
We met at Zero Neuf one afternoon, I casually rocked up to see my friends Mike and Joss. Mike told me that “Camille’s here”. I was immediately a little nervous – this was something of a fanboy moment. Through the rest of the day, sitting in the warming Pyrenean sunshine, we may have shared a few drinks, (as is not at all uncommon when Mr Tucker’s involved) and we chatted freely – not a fanboy but an immediate friend. In the years since we have shared many a glass of wine in France, Italy and Spain. I invited Camille to cover one of my trips to the Dolomites last year and shoot for my clients. The mountains there provided an epic back drop for him to showcase his incredible talents (and an amazing bonus for the riders on that trip too!).
I hadn’t anticipated us bonding as we did. He is undoubtedly one of a small number of people with whom I can credit helping me with my depression, or at least helping me to talk and to be more open. I spent a week with Camille in the beautiful Italian mountains. After each day’s riding and support we’d talk. Invariably refuelled by a sublime local red and the gravelly timbre of Nick Cave. Aside from the obvious irony of actually being in a great place, I wasn’t having a great time. But each evening we’d chill out, talk shit and put the world to rights. It was the start of an important phase in my recovery. One that I think I can only see now, with a healthy dose of hindsight.
We’d spoken about doing something in 2019, some kind of ride – maybe a challenge – that he’d capture. Really just an excuse to get away and ride a bike for me and for him to shoot liberated and in our respective elements. When I opened up about my mental health journey recently, that trip snowballed pretty rapidly into the ride I’ve now planned for June. Camille will be supporting me by car and documenting the whole experience. The highs and lows of my journey on two wheels across the Pyrenees, Alps and Dolomites.
This journal post is not only a nod to Camille for the important part he played for me last year, but an excuse to show off some of his truly mesmerising work. I can’t wait to show him some of the detours that I’ve planned after reading Max’s book.
Camille McMillan. Not just one of my favourite photographers but one of my favourite people.