Graham Watson, one of the World’s best known cycling photographers, has today announced his retirement. The Briton said that the Tour Down Under last month was his last race, stating that he had wanted to retire at the age of 60.
Watson joined society photographer, Lenare, in the mid-70s and during his time here, he learned the basics of photography before becoming involved in cycling. Following a weekend trip to the 1977 Tour de France in Paris, he won a photography competition with Cycling Weekly magazine and his career as a cycling photographer was launched.
He initially started off photographing British races, before travelling more often to Continental Europe to photograph the Tour de France and Spring Classics like the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix.
His entry into the sport coincided nicely with the growth in number of top English-speaking riders such as Sean Kelly, Greg LeMond, Robert Millar, Phil Anderson and Stephen Roche and his photography featured in numerous cycling magazines around the World.
Watson also authored or co-authored over 20 books, including ‘Kings of the Road’ (1986), ‘Visions of Cycling’ (1998), ‘The Tour de France and its Heroes’ (1989), ‘The Road to Hell’ (1990), ‘The Great Tours’ (1994), ’20 Years of Cycling’ (2000), and Lansdscapes of Cycling (2004).
In the statement on his website, he said: “I am no longer a cycling photographer. If you want, you can now refer to me as a ex-cycling photographer or as a former cycling photographer. Yes, after almost 45 years as a professional photographer and 38 years of that as a cycling photographer I am retiring – my last race was the Tour Down Under in January.”
“I turned 60 years-of-age last March and began finalising a plan that had been fermenting in my mind since five years earlier. I had always wanted to stop at 60, reasoning that my vision and reflexes would be left intact if I stopped now – stay too long and the quality and commitment were bound to fall at some stage. By stopping at 60 I also have the chance to discover other things in life, or at the very least get out on my bike more and maybe climb a few of the mountains I’ve photographed for so long.”
“I have reasoned with myself that retirement is the biggest milestone a human being reaches, beyond getting married or buying one’s first home. So this was not a casual, easy decision to make nor carry out. Yet here I am, one day into retirement, sitting on our deck overlooking the Tasman Bay in Nelson, New Zealand, a glass of locally-produced Sauvignon Blanc in my hand, totally at peace with my new lifestyle.”