A picture perfect passion

Emily Wicklund stands atop a snowmobile seat while taking photos at a cross country snowmobile race. For Wicklund, taking cross country snowmobile photos is about more than just clicking a button on a camera, involving some strategy. (submitted photo)

Greenbush native Emily Wicklund focuses in while taking a photo at a FIRST Robotics event. Wicklund takes photos at various events, such as robotics and snowmobile racing. (submitted photo)

Between the ages of 5 and 12, Greenbush native Emily Wicklund raced on snowmobiles, but at about the age of 12, her parents, Dale and Annette, made a decision.

“My parents didn’t want to put me in a big snowcat because I was tiny,” Wicklund said with a chuckle. “So I think that’s when they bought me my camera. They’re like, ‘Why don’t just take pictures of (your older brother) Nels?’ And I’m like, ‘Okay.’ I wasn’t mad about it or anything. So I was like that’ll be fun.”

Her parents bought her this first camera and “she loved it.”

“I started going to Nel’s snowmobile races and taking pictures out of just the car window,” Wicklund said with a chuckle. “They’re actually like decently good.”

From that point on, her passion for photography has grown. Her photo-taking skills have reached international heights— specifically in cross country snowmobile racing— and opened her to opportunities outside photography.

Wicklund has had a long background in both photography and racing, and eventually they collided. When she and her older brother Nels were younger, their mom would take many photos, so Wicklund had been around cameras for much of her life. As for racing, she’s also always been around it, whether on the snowmobile or dirt tracks.

“We’re just a racing family,” Wicklund said.

After her first camera, she received a new camera from her parents at around the age of 16— a Canon Rebel. The next year, Wicklund purchased her own new lens and started going to all the snowmobile races and taking photos of all the racers, not just her brother.

Some of her brother’s friends began posting some of her snowmobile photos on social media, and by the end of the year, Nels connected her with a racing team formerly out of Moorhead, Minn., but now currently residing in Roseau— Bunke Racing.

For Bunke Racing, she would take photos of the team and handle their social media, including for their racers: Gabe, Taylor, and now younger brother Boe Bunke.

“That really got my name out there and that kind of brought me to other bigger teams,” Wicklund said.

Today, she continues to work mainly for Bunke Racing, taking photos, running all its social media, and, this past year, having built it a new website, but she also works for numerous other racing teams and racing bodies.

For the past two and a half years, she has worked as a snowmobile cross country racing contributor for RideX365, a snowmobile and dirt bike racing action blog out of Baxter, Minn. It covers, as Wicklund explained, snowmobile and dirt bike racing events across the midwest. This opportunity led to work beyond just photography— that of writing. For RideX365, she writes post-race articles.

Later, a snowmobile cross country racing circuit, USXC Racing, gave Wicklund an opportunity that opened up for her after its main photographer, Aaron Kennedy, had his third child. This work through USXC— currently in her first year — also gave her more chances to write. During races, she posts race updates on USXC’s and her own social media.

Wicklund knew Kennedy before assuming the job with USXC, as he took many of her brother’s racing photos and has been a mentor to Wicklund. This past year, when he told her that he wouldn’t be able to attend as many races and asked her about taking over his role, Wicklund said she was shocked.

“I kind of felt stressed a little bit because I had the whole circuit relying on me,” Wicklund said. “But then I kind of just thought about it more as just do the same thing I’ve been doing, and everyone will be happy. It was really shocking because it’s like the best cross country racers in the world.”

She also is in her first year of working for On Snow Magazine (OSM) out of Canada.

Wicklund writes three articles per race weekend, including, as previously stated, a post-race article for Ridex365, and, for USXC and OSM, the same pre and post-race articles.

At this point, Wicklund doesn’t know for sure where her photography or writing will take her. Currently, she is studying to be a Radiology Technologist in East Grand Forks, and plans to graduate with her Radiology Technology degree in May 2021. With this degree, she hopes to work in a clinic, and then continue to take photos at and report on racing events during the weekends.

Her brother Nels doesn’t do as much racing anymore, but her father Dale— helping her get into shooting snowmobile photography— continues to still attend snowmobile racing events.

“Instead of my dad packing the trailer for him (Nels’) and his race weekend, he packs the trailer with my sled that I ride around to take pictures on with all my gear,” Wicklund said. “It’s like a completely different scenario now… He still comes with and supports me all the way even though he doesn’t have a racer.”

Two passions— racing and photography— united for Wicklund, providing her with many new opportunites. Unlike racing, she doesn’t know where the finish line is in terms her photo and writing work, but she’s just glad to still be on the track.

To see the full story, read the March 11 issue of The Tribune.

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