Cycling is a sport that is obsessed with the rules. From what you wear to how you ride, it’s sometimes difficult to avoid feeling like you’re falling short of the mark. But at the heart of it, we love to ride because it’s freedom. Cycling is a ticket to the top of mountains, to far flung corners of the globe, and to new versions of ourselves that we could never have imaged. The internet is filled with guides of how to capture this experience through a lens of a ‘real’ cyclist, but we’re not sticklers for the rules. In fact, we believe the real joy of cycling is the idea that there are no rules. So we asked around and have come up with the definitive list of the only tips that matter for bike photography.
Words: Ashleigh Maxwell
RULE #1: THERE ARE NO RULES
The best cycling photo captures your own personal love for cycling. It can be about a special moment, a place, a personal achievement or shared experience. Whether you’re riding to your favourite coffee spot with friends, lost on an epic gravel adventure or pushing the envelope in a race, the only rule that matters is that your photos capture what makes that ride special for you.
Photo: Carlos Petricioli
RULE #2: TAKE YOUR TIME
Capturing amazing photos requires a bit of patience and practice, and yes, sometimes this means you have to stop mid-ride. Remember, you’re taking a photo to remember this moment, so take your time and make an effort to capture it in all it’s glory. Plenty of cyclists follow rules about taking the photo from the drive side, with the cranks aligned, chain in the big ring and smallest cog in the cassette, as well as aligning the valves and any logos on your wheels. And no doubt, if you’re having a special moment with your beloved gear, it makes sense to show it at its best. But removing yourself from a nice moment to change your gears and spin your wheels isn’t a necessity. Whether you ultimately decide to show off your amazing new rims or that stellar sunset, taking a moment to think about how to best capture the spirit of your ride also gives you the opportunity to reflect on how fortunate we are to be on the road. And in the end, that’s what we’ll remember.
"Not having time to prep your brand new bike like a pro before every single ride does not make you a bad cyclist."
RULE #3: THE MOST PHOTOGENIC BIKE IS WHATEVER YOU WANT IT TO BE
A clean bike isn’t just a fast bike. A polished frame and shiny chain also look great in photos. Some riders even grab their glamour shots before oiling the chain, which is a level of commitment to a certain aesthetic that deserves some serious kudos. But cycling isn’t only about perfection. Many of the best rides are dirty and spontaneous. Just like many of the best bikes are retro classics. Not having time to prep your brand new bike like a pro before every single ride does not make you a bad cyclist, and it should never make you think twice about snapping that perfect shot.
RULE #4: BE CREATIVE
Think outside the box to capture the true spirit of your ride. Focus on your favourite components, or take them all apart. Embrace the most memorable aspects of your journey, whether that’s a lively meadow, a battle with a friend or an extra special croissant. It’s supposed to be fun, after all.
Photo: Carlos Petricioli
"It’s something very special indeed to capture an image that only you can truly appreciate."
RULE #5: PHOTOS OF YOUR BIKE ARE ABOUT A LOT OF THINGS, NONE OF WHICH ARE SOCIAL MEDIA
We are incredibly fortunate to live in a time when it’s easy to capture our finest memories in full colour from a device in our back pocket. Some pay homage to the art of cycling with breathtaking portraits of bike design, while others document their wildest adventures into the unknown with pure ease. We all have our own reasons for the ride and it’s something very special indeed to capture an image that only you can truly appreciate.
Written in collaboration with Carlos Petricioli, a New-York based rider with a special gift for the art of bike snaps. Check out his Instagram account for some serious inspiration.
Cover photo: Shawn Rath