She participated in her first bicycle race while studying abroad in Austria. A year later she received the women's overall national title in cycling for Division 2 schools. Although she enjoys bicycling and competing, Heidi Franz is focused on her documentary photography.
“I couldn’t see myself doing anything else but photography,” said Heidi Franz, class of 2017, “and to study photography, you have to be at Seattle U.”
Recommended by her high school teacher, Seattle University has given Franz greater awareness of the skills needed to be a photojournalist, starting with a required course using film (“I only shot digital”) in her first year.
“A good photo requires composition, the right exposure, and creativity. I didn’t fully appreciate that until I started working with film,” she said.
In 2015, Franz studied German, fine arts, and anthropology in Salzburg, Austria. She had enjoyed bicycling around her home on Bainbridge Island and decided to participate in her first road race in Austria. At the end of the 100-mile race, she took third place with a time of 5 hours and 21 minutes.
Back on campus, Franz added competitive cycling to her busy schedule. Averaging 150 miles a week, she competed in six races through the spring with the university’s bicycle club. Each race consisted of three sections during a three-day period: an endurance race of 40 – 60 miles; a criterium, a shorter race consisting of laps around a closed circuit; and an individual time trial. She qualified for national competition and travelled to Marshall, North Carolina, in May.
The 3-day program at the 2016 USA Cycling Collegiate Road Nationals consisted of a 71 mile road race, a 0.9 mile criterium, and a 12-mile time trial. Peak elevation was 2250 feet. Franz took third place in the road race with a time and had enough points from the criterium and the time trial to be first overall.
Although Franz expects to compete next year and is working this summer with bicycle enthusiasts to encourage more women to learn about bicycle maintenance and competition, she is most passionate about photography. Already recognized for her work with a third place award at the 2015 Imagining the World Student Photo Competition for her photo “Lonely in Austria” (below), she looks forward to expanding her skills and using documentary photography that focuses on social justice issues.