The expeditions of the Sportful Adventure Squad are just as much about sharing our stories as they are about riding bikes. In Remi's case, the days of national championships are behind him. Or, according to my own equally legendary cycling resume, a podium finish in a local Cat 3 crit have passed. As for Joel, the jury is still out, though we think he still likes going fast. That being said, we thought it would be a good idea to share some photography tips to help you share your own adventures.
Over the few months I will be sharing tips, tricks and techniques to get the most out of your next ride. Some tips will be technical, others will be creative ideas. It doesn't matter what kind of camera you stick in your jersey or handlebar bag, I'll do my best to ensure these lessons are applicable to all types of gear. Remember – cameras, whether they are iPhones or the latest and greatest DSLR – are simply boxes with holes to let light in. The rest is up to you!
In this first installment of Photography Tips for Cyclists, I'll be sharing three central ideas to help you craft a photo narrative of your next ride.
TIP #1 – A SENSE OF PLACE
I hadn’t even heard about the Lost Coast of California, let alone visited it prior to arrival in Shelter Cove. Although there is an airport, and roads providing access to it, the remarkebly rugged terrain keeps this small coastal town isolated from the rest of the world. It’s hard to imagine a place as beautiful as the Lost Coast, being as abandoned as it felt. It was this landscape, its weather and topography, that was the backdrop for our adventure.
It is the idea of context that’s important for your own cycling stories. Whether it’s a local ride or a new road explored, make sure to photograph more than just the bikes. We all have our own reasons why we ride, but a common motivation we all share is to experience the beauty in this world. Make sure to include this larger perspective in your own story.
TIP #2 – MAKE TIME TO EXPLORE
The days of paychecks and primes are well behind us. So unless you think you have a line on a Strava PR, make time to explore. When we set out for the second day of the John Wayne Pioneer Trail, we made a note to spend some time exploring the town of Easton, WA. 20 years ago, we'd have 'half-wheeled' each other straight through town. On this trip, we made time to smell the flowers. Literally. What was unknown to us the day before, quickly became a few of my favorite photographs from the expedition.
TIP #3 – IT'S BEYOND THE BIKE
Finally, if your buddies are anything like us, I'm sure your adventure is well beyond the bike. There are moments around the camp, or grabbing a beer after the ride, that are equally important to your story. Our campsite along the John Day River, provided the stage for the best moments of the expedition. Whether it's a cup of coffee in the morning, a quick break to cast a fly into some pocket water, or an impromptu swim in a frigid river, make sure not to ignore moments like this. They are the details that bring your story to life.
Creating a sense of place, taking time to explore, and capturing memories on and off the bike are three simple tips to help better capture the memories of your next cycling excursion. Stay tuned for additional photography tips, and in the meantime, enjoy your adventures!
Photographs & Words by Justin Balog
Justin Balog brings a beard, a plant-based diet, and his experience as an editorial photographer, to the team. He serves as the Adventure Squad’s own embedded photojournalist, both riding and documenting the moments along the roads less traveled. When he's not adventuring with the Squad, you can find him on expedition with The Photo Frontier. Sportful has first dibs, but for project inquiries you can reach him at JustinBalog.com.