Violeta Beral / Thuli Lamb

This image is not only amazing visually and photographically, it also shows the female athlete holistically, with great attention to athletic ability, facial expression and strength

Violeta Beral

Violeta Beral was born in Madrid in 1982, where her love for magazines made her drop out of architecture studies, and instead study photo and video in Madrid as well as carry on with a Graphic Design degree in London, where she currently lives. She landed a job with Factory Media, one of the biggest action sports publishers in the industry:  A dream come true for Violeta, combining print, media and action sports.
Violeta has always been an active person, so sitting down in the office was a real killer, even though she really enjoyed the work she was doing.  She became a climbing instructor instead and the next step was becoming a professional abseiler, which is still Violetas dayjob.
"Apart from my work, I try to find the time and energy to go skating, climbing, cycling, playing, and of course- taking pictures. I started inline skating when I was 17 years old. Everything I did revolved around that; friends, holidays, life: 24/7.  I soon discovered other action sports, and I got completely trapped with it. Not being able to practice them enough (at least to get any good) because of time, resources, etc, I try to photograph them all instead. That gives me the same feelings of satisfaction and amusement."
When and why did you get in to photography?
"One day I was in Madrid skating with my friends. Ryan Schude, a photographer for the American magazine The Daily Bread (one of the few at the time) was visiting Spain. He asked us if he could come and take pics at one of our sessions, and we said yes. It was then when I made the connection between photography and magazines, and realized that was what I wanted to do."
What made you get in to action, extreme or adventure sports?
"I have always loved sports, ever since I was very little. I started skating in school. I got a bit better, and I started skating street, jumping stairs, going fast. It was the feeling of pushing the limits and discovering what I was really capable of that hooked me.  I saw the X-Games on TV, and It opened my eyes! The amount of things you could do with a pair of skates! Straight away I wanted to get a pair of inlines and everything just kicked off. 
At the moment I'm trying to find the time to do a bit of skating, climbing, riding bikes (all kinds), and bit of parkour… I wish I had time for more activities though!"
What’s your worst/best/most intense moment related to action sports?
"The worst is when I get an injury, The best when you learn a new trick, when you travel, meet new friends, adventures, places, creativity… Most intense may be when you overcome a fear."
What/Who is you favorite initiative, project, professional, leader, athlete or brand in the action sports sphere?
"Anyone who is passionate will keep me motivated!"
What do you think of the lack of role models for girls and women in male dominated areas?
"Throughout my whole life I’ve often found myself being one of the few girls in all the things I've been interested in: from my hobbies to my work. It's always intimidating to take the first step, and even more so if it is in a predominantly male environment. 
When you see other girls doing it, it’s inspiring; you get more motivated and more encouraged. We need more female role models to give other girls more confidence to go and try it too."
How do you see women evolving in the action sports scene?
"I already see more women involved in action sports now, than I did 20 years ago. I hope this number keeps on growing, and hopefully faster.
The media simply needs to stop objectifying women and their bodies. There is a real issue with the way women feel about their figures and the way women are encouraged to have the perfect body through sports.  Women need to be to encouraged and empowered to do sports because it's what they like, and not just to be able to have a good body. We also need to get rid of stereotypes as in what is "for girls" and what is "for boys"."
What are your hopes for the future of the industry?
"That gender is not an issue in any way and that more people can live of what they love."
What is the number one preconception or prejudice people have about you?
"Sometimes I feel I have to prove that I can do something, just because I am a girl."
Do you have a feature or body part that you have been self-conscious about? Do you think low self-esteem in girls and stereotypes in media are connected?
"I try to accept my body as it is. Yes, I think stereotypes in media are far away from reality, but some people doesn’t seem to realize this."
Is there a difference in how women and men are portrayed in the action sports industry?
"In short I would say that most of the pictures of men are ‘men doing cool stuff’, and the pictures of women are ‘cool women doing stuff’."
What would you say to people who want to get in to action sports, but think they might not fit in?
“Do it. Don’t waste any time, get over it and do it. Once you take that first step it will all come- but you have to take that first step."



Thuli Lamb, UK

Thuli grew up in Wales and Swaziland where she spent most of her time outdoors swimming, climbing and walking and hiking. She has always played team sports at school and university and only recently discovered Parkour after a period of 5 years without a consistent physical outlet. She lives in London with her cat and dog (who regularly accompanies her when training).
Next on her bucketlist is a husky sledge tour, spending at least a few nights out on the trail. Adventure, team work, dogs and survival. All the best things according to Thuli.
“I’ve never liked being told I can’t do something….it makes me want to do it even more. With Parkour, most of the time, the voice that says ‘you can’t do that’ comes from inside you. It’s a great feeling to overcome your self.”
This photo was taken in the first See&Do photo shoot organized by photographer Julie Angel. This project focuses on women, hoping to normalize images of women being active, primarily through Parkour. It was in Pimlico, London, and the event had a great turn out.


What/Who is you favorite initiative, project, professional, leader, athlete or brand in the action sports sphere?
Parkour Generations in London has really shaped me as a Parkour practitioner. I’m still relatively new to the discipline and I wouldn’t have had a clue where to start without them. They provide fantastic coaching, training, and event facilitation as well as having the most welcoming and adventurous community I’ve ever encountered.
What do you think of the lack of role models for girls and women in male dominated areas?
“Looking back, I don’t think a lack of women as ambassadors for certain sports or activities ever made a difference to me. If I saw something that I thought looked like fun I’d want to try it. I’m prepared to believe that that’s not the case for everyone but I think that as important as it is to champion and promote women as role models, it’s equally vital that we teach girls that seeing a man do something doesn’t exclude them from doing it too. More and more I feel we need to change the way we perceive gender and its supposed limitations, advantages or predisposed tendencies. We shouldn’t need to see other women doing something to believe that we can do it too, the gender of the role model shouldn’t really be most important factor. A little girl should be able to identify with a man climbing a mountain, just as easily as a boy identifying with a woman snowboarding down one. The activity should be the exciting thing, not whether it’s a man or a woman doing it. But that’s something for society, parents, schools and the media to begin to tackle?.and I haven’t got any idea how to undo what’s already been done.”
Do you have a feature or body part that you have been self-conscious about? Do you think low self-esteem in girls and stereotypes in media are connected?
I have my own hang ups, I don’t know anyone who doesn’t, and I think there is a lot of pressure, even within the action sports communities to ‘look the part’, be that slim, strong, flexible or even tanned and smooth skinned. It’s difficult to blame the media entirely for something that is essentially rooted in an innate drive; attraction. Yes, you can perhaps be flooded with images of what is ‘supposed’ to be attractive to others or what the ‘ideal body’ is but the pressures I put on myself are probably linked to what I find attractive too, and I can’t blame the media for that. Its constant glossy reminders aren’t helpful though and I think a link between glossy mags and self-esteem issues has already been proven. But I’ve never bought one, and I have self-esteem problems sometimes too.
I think men are often championed for their feats, their accomplishments. With women, what’s so often reported on, and is so much of a feature is the very fact that they are women, competing in this male-dominated arena. It sounds like helpful exposure but by pointing out the (often erroneous) fact that there aren’t many women in the sport, and making that the most important factor in an article or report, you down-play the actual physical achievement and further differentiate the genders. Why not celebrate the fact that she’s an outstanding athlete? Instead of the fact that she’s a woman doing a thing that men have done – that should be neither interesting nor surprising.