Professional Cycling Photography "Last year at the Tour de France one small band of creatives had the opportunity to remove themselves from the constrictions of shooting from the back of a motorbike and took to something entirely different...."
The very nature of professional road cycling demands that professional photographers are on the scene at every moment. Throwing up a peculiar arrangement between two professions, an arrangement as curious as the symbiosis which exists between certain animals, two separate organisms each interdependent on the other. In this case professional athletes on two wheels, their every move captured via motorcycle mounted lensmen. A second symbiotic arrangement arises as consequence of the first, photographer and motorcyclist.
Leading businesses involved in the delivery of sport to a worldwide cycling audience, A.S.O. and RCS Sport recognise the power of the medium, obviously photography has to be an integral and vital part of their media distribution streams. RCS Sport sum up the compelling nature of sport as a commercial proposition with this, "There is no media like sport for providing enthusiasm, winning challenges, positive values and one-of-a-kind opportunities. No one knows this better than RCS Sport, because it was founded on sport and understands its extraordinary power. Today RCS Sport is the only consulting unit that fully understands the power of sport and how to put it at the service of our partners."
Cycling fans worldwide hunger for the latest images of every race, for decades their needs met by expert photographers of the ilk of Graham Watson and Cor Vos. Photographs documenting the history of the sport are coveted, some taking on almost iconic status. The Badger laying one on some protestors while Phil Anderson looks on awestruck with what he's witnessing is one powerful example. Some marvel at images of cycling muscle, especially popular are pictures of bulging venous legs, how many times have Sean Kelly's legs ricocheted around the globe in digital form. Some cobbled climbs and roads have taken on cult status, an old favourite comes to the fore here, start with black and white, enhance to deep sooty black tones, making it look more bleak than it really is. Just some of the repertoire, telling the story of cycling via the lens.
The photographer who engages in photographing road racing as first requirement needs to be as tenacious as the cyclists they photograph. In professional photography there is no other job like it. No comfy studio brimming to the roof with the latest digital equipment, assistants, complete with a commercial coffee machine. No it actually goes like this, get on the back of a motorbike, first trust the rider who bears you along all terrain in all weather, sleet, snow, rain, or baking hot sun. Follow the race from start to finish, if it's a tour well you're in it for the long haul. Do this year in year out and be creative with your shots, plus first and foremost: deliver. What a job. It becomes easy to see why cycling aficionados worldwide hold the great cycling photographers of our time with such high regard.
Last year at the Tour de France one small band of creatives had the opportunity to remove themselves from the constrictions of shooting from the back of a motorbike and took to something entirely different, affording us a new and unique view of the Tour. The entire trick performed via special photo imaging techniques firmly rooted back in the studio. With the emergence of digital technology a new format has been adapted, allowing for creativity beyond the norm. If you are a technician with a yearning to know how everything works, go to Wikipedia as a starting point and look up "Tilt-Shift Photography" right now, otherwise I'd be forced to bore every one else with an essay beginning with the Scheimpflug Principle, and that won't work. Suffice to say the technique is dependent on mounting a camera, usually high above the subject for best effect, rendering everything in miniature. This technique has become popular in the last few years.
The Tour de France with all the mountain stages is an ideal setting for photographers to play. Thanks to Canyon bicycles here's a totally different view of cycle sport and the 2011 Tour, following the Omega Pharma - Lotto, 2011 Canyon sponsored team.