Dylan VanWeelden was raised by hippies. By the age of 9, he had lived in 36 different homes all over northern Michigan. From cabin rentals to Indian reservations, VanWeelden’s rolling stone upbringing, in combination with his mother’s “gypsy soul,” honed his street smarts and eye for the beauty in movement. Potters, illustrators, weavers, musicians, glass blowers, paper makers, and photographers surrounded him. They schooled him on color, composition, and the communication of artistic integrity. He moved often but art was always his home.
VanWeelden studied “nerd stuff” in college. “I’ve always loved art but I also wanted to pay the bills,” he explains. “I chose graphic design, which still influences my photos today. You can always tell a photographer that has been trained in composition and color theory. Yeah, nerd stuff, but it makes an immense difference. Study Bauhaus, kids.”
VanWeelden toyed with photography as a hobby for years while finding professional success as a marketing director in Oregon. Then came a moment of clarity a few years ago. Over a drink, a friend asked VanWeelden to describe his dream job. “I loved working with photographers and realized that I had a bit of a man crush on all of them,” he recalls. “Boom. It was time to become an outdoor photographer.” And so, he did.
By focusing on his personal outdoor passions, most notably cycling, VanWeelden has carved out a new home in outdoor adventure photography. And it does not look like he’ll be moving anytime soon. “As a young buck I got hooked on art and athletics, focused on racing bikes. This evolved to shape my career,” VanWeelden says. “As an artist you’re always focused on the beast you’re inside of. Right now, I’m doing some exciting work with people that I really love and stand behind. It’s kind of the best.”
The round up girls giving every facial expression in the book at the Pendleton Round Up.
Commercial shoots don’t have to be boring, and all are not created equal. This is Easy E the dog showing his power stance on location for Ruffwear.
The boys trying to keep the rubber side down during the Cross Crusade in Barton, Oregon.
Running sucks, right? This is when running doesn’t suck. Shot for the Territory Run Company in Syncline, Oregon.
Sometimes making friends is easy. Sometimes it is not. We traded Edmond a pack of cigs to stay on his island in Belize. It was a fair trade.
Plastic table, raging fire, whiskey, and no helmet. What could go wrong? Stunt man Lars Sternberg at the Trans Cascadia Race in Oregon.
A post-cross race moment of clarity at the Cross Crusade in Portland, Oregon.
What’s your favorite color? Once I saw this, I had to photograph it. And since, my favorite color has been hot lava, all the time. Shot in Kona, Hawaii.
Road riding in the Columbia River Gorge near Mosier, Oregon.
Meet D-rock. He is a hard man with a big bar. This is how D-rock smiles. Shot in the woods near Oakridge, Oregon.