For this week I had a few things in mind that I wanted to work on but when I was out shooting the other day Andrew Jackson showed up with a freshly built set up and he wanted to try and get it shot before he really started riding it. Since we were going to be doing a bike check anyways I figured it would be cool to break down the process of shooting a bike check and how I typically go about it. Bike checks are a perfect way to show everyone out there what you are riding and it’s a great way for pros to shout out their signature parts and help promote the companies that support them. Plus, it’s a great marketing tool for companies to have their products promoted by their team riders so it’s a win-win for everyone really. Although a bike check seems really simple there are actually a few important things to know when putting one together. Read on to get a little insight into what it takes to get one done properly and practice on your own bike or your friend’s bike today.
I have done a lot of bike checks over the years and one of the best things about shooting them is trying to come up with a good portrait to go along with it and start it off. You always want to have the opening photo be a portrait of the rider and their bike. You can get as creative as you want here but remember that you want to also try and show the riders personality a bit as well in the opening image. There are no guidelines really, just have some fun with it and see what you come up with. Hang the bike from a tree, have the person jumping over it, put it upside down, take it apart and do an exploded view of it surrounding the rider and so on and so forth. You get the idea right? Some people like to keep it mellow and Andrew happens to be one of those people so we kept it simple and it worked out.
You want to try and show as much detail as you can. Every part is just as equally important in the grand scheme of things so try and shoot it all. If you have to, go ahead and keep a mental checklist on all of the parts and make sure you get something of each one. It doesn’t mean every single part needs its own photo but it would help to have all the parts in the photos at some point.
Shoot with a low depth of field, shoot crazy angles, do whatever it is you think might make the photos stand out. In this case we were pretty lucky and got to use Andrews dope apartment spot in Downtown Los Angeles. The exposed brick made for a unique background and provided a nice contrast to the blue of his bike. After shooting so many bike checks over the years it’s fun to challenge myself and try to come up with different angles that I have never used. It’s just good to try and shoot in your own way as well. There are no real rules to it just keep a loose plan, remember that it’s all about the bike and go from there.
Of course the lighting is up to you and always go with whatever you think would look best. I love shooting bike checks right before sunset during that “golden hour” when the sun lights up everything real nice. I also love shooting bikes with flash too. It helps to make all of the colors pop and gives you a little more control which is always nice. For these shots I used one of my Einstein lights and a 60” silver umbrella. The light was up high and directly behind me. It provided plenty of light and having it up high helps to eliminate harsh shadows and to help smooth out the light.
When it comes to dialing in a bike check with a pro I like to have them fill out a form with all of their parts listed. I also like to get them to talk a bit about their bikes and discuss how they like them set up and how they like them to feel. Sure, the form gives you the exact part breakdown but it’s awesome to hear what pros have to say about the parts that they ride. It’s always interesting to me to read about each individual’s bike and what they do that makes them unique to them.
Frame: We The People C.R.E.A.M.
Fork: We The People C.R.E.A.M.
Stem: Eclat Boxer
Handlebars: We The People Mike Brennan signature
Grips: Odyssey Cufflinks
Bar Ends: Odyssey
Cranks: Odyssey Thunderbolt
Bottom Bracket: Odyssey
Pedals: Odyssey JCPC
Sprocket: Odyssey 28-Tooth
Front Tire: Eclat 2.25
Rear Tire: Revenge 2.1
Rims: G-sport Birdcage
Front Hub: G-sport Marmoset
Rear Hub: G-sport Ratchet 9-tooth
Seat Post: Odyssey
Seat: Odyssey Aitken
For some reason it’s always been a mystery to plenty of riders out there exactly how you get the bike to stand up on it’s own for the shot. There have always been crazy theories about it and it’s sort of a trade secret. Once people know how they seem to have the same “no way, that’s it?” reaction. It’s super simple. You just have someone stand out of the frame a bit and reach their hand in and put a finger on the crossbar. They make sure the bike is balanced and then quickly bring their hand back out of the photo and while the bike is in that moment of standing on it’s own you take the shot and that’s it. Too easy right?
Follow Andrew on Instagram @ANDREWJACKSON_
***This is the perfect time to put together another contest. Sticking with the bike check theme the contest will be based around shooting a portrait of a rider with their bikes. I will keep you posted on the details as soon as possible but be prepared and start thinking of ideas. Remember that you want to show the rider with their bikes in a unique and interesting way. All of the photo submissions will be judged and there will be three winners that will be hooked up.***
That’s it for this week. Now that you know exactly how to shoot a bike check don’t be afraid to go try it out as soon as you can and put one together. It’s also rad to have photos of each bike you own. So, even if you want to do a bike check for yourself to keep a record of your exact set-ups over the years then that’s awesome too. Either way, always remember to have fun with what you’re doing and it will show in your work. Also, be sure to check back next Wednesday for the fifty-second edition of Through the Lens and as always feel free to leave any questions in the comments section or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will hit you back as soon as I can. Feel free to follow me on Twitter and Instagram @jeremypavia.