1: Look around
It doesn’t matter where you are, there’s a location within metres. Quite often people go: “There’s nowhere to shoot a bike around here” but they just don’t look. I’ve never not found somewhere. Look at things: doors, walls, whatever and you’ll spot colours and textures that will work with the bike that you’re photographing.
2: Point, then shoot
By which I mean think about the way the bike is aiming, and use it to create a feeling of flow. Is it pointing into the shot, along a vista, along a road? It’s about making the bike look inviting; making whoever’s looking at the bike go “I want to be on that bike” or “I want to be there”.
3: Lay the bike down
If there’s not a wall or somewhere to lean on or balance the bike against, and you’re on your own, it’s always quite nice to lay the bike down on the road or trail. The natural way to lay a bike down is towards you – so there is no reaching over. If you lay the bike away from you, so the bottom of the tyres are closest to you and the bike is the drive-side up, it looks better because of the way the bike naturally leans. If you do it the other way, it always looks awkward.
4: Balance the bike.
The way that most people will photograph a bike is to just hold it up and quickly let it go while someone else takes the picture, to make the bike appear to be standing in mid-air. We never do that because it’s what everybody does, and it’s a bit boring. I quite like to balance bikes or hang them. It’s quite fun to do in doorways, or up against walls. Put them in places that aren’t the usual.
5: Know the rules in order to break them
There are certain rules for photographing bikes. You’re always supposed to have the bike in the big ring; line up the logos on the wheels; valves up or down or hidden; line up the crank; always shoot crank-side. These are the so-called commandments for photographing a bike. Of course, rules should be broken every now and then, otherwise it gets boring. These are what the standards are, but they shouldn’t be fixed. You should be able to do whatever you want.
Bonus: (Don’t) try this one at home
There’s a thing called #ibite. While riding you put your phone on self-timer, and put your phone in your mouth. It means you can photograph your hands on your bars while riding along on the road or trail. It sounds hairy but it’s easier to do than it sounds. It’s the perfect way to shoot a picture of the road, both hands on the bars. And it always foxes people because it makes them stop and think: how did you take that picture?