Tips from the pro how to take great motorcycle photos

Tips from the pro how to take great motorcycle photos

So high time to clean and polish the machine for the photo shoot. Just to show off – or to sell. With a few tips, even amateurs will succeed in taking good photos.

Rossen Gargolov, professional photographer from Stuttgart, has been taking pictures for 20 years for motorcycle magazines, among others. Before actually taking pictures, he advises finding the right place and a good position for the machine.

Ideally a place with a neutral background. "But the most important thing is that you yourself like the sight of the motorcycle, position and background, that the viewer likes the composition."

A few seconds to think about it

Before owners start snapping away now, however, they should take a few seconds to look closely at their machine, Gargolov explains. Every motorcycle looks different: some look good from the front, some from the side, and some from the back.

Shots would be especially nice if they were taken in the morning or evening. "The earlier in the morning and the later in the evening, the more beautiful the photos will be."Morning light shines a little whiter and cooler, evening light a little more yellow and warmer. "I would avoid harsh midday light," says Gargolov.

If the motorcycle is partially in shadow, making it look splotchy, Gargolov uses a trick: "The pictures become beautiful if the photographer shoots from the shadowy side onto the shadows. There light is evenly distributed, so most cameras and smartphones can regulate the image well. This makes for exciting photos," he says.

Third dimension

If the sun is shining hard on the machine, the professional advises taking a slightly sideways shot of the front or rear. "This position and the shadow give the shot a third dimension. That looks much better than if the motorcycle is only photographed flat from the front," he says.

Good pictures can be taken if the photographer positions himself as low and close to the motorcycle as possible. This usually looks dynamic – and the sky as a background is neutral and not distracting.

Motorcyclists don't necessarily need professional photography equipment. "Modern smartphones now offer good photo quality."In portrait mode, the machine remains in focus and the background is automatically blurred. "This makes the motorcycle stand out nicely."With a camera that doesn't have a portrait mode, it's important to choose the smallest possible aperture and a fast shutter speed.

Distort wide angle

Gargolov would not use wide-angle shots, as they distort the appearance of the machine's components. It's also better not to use the flash. "The direct light then breaks the three-dimensionality back down to two dimensions, the machine loses structures and the photo looks artificial." In addition, chrome often reflects the light and irritates the camera. The photos are then often too dark.

Gargolov also trusts amateurs to take driving shots. Curves are suitable for this: the photographer stands in the curve. Moves in sync with the passing motorcycle. "In portrait mode, the photographer simply pulls along as if he were shooting a video." Here, too, a low position has a dynamic effect, he says. Experienced photographers can also take photos from the outside edge of the curve, preferably from the front at an angle, when the machine is nice and low in the curve.

Daniel Wollstein, motorcyclist, photographer and managing director of the photo agency Right Light Media, has been photographing motorcycles professionally for twelve years. For him, in addition to the right location, the correct stance is also crucial.

Three-quarter view from the front

"I always park my machines on the side stand. If they lean too much, I wedge a small wedge under the stand.Otherwise it looks as if the motorcycle is sinking," explains Wollstein. For perspective, he recommends a three-quarter view from the front to get as much of the machine shot as possible.

"It looks nice when the whole bike is visible from the front wheel to the tail light and the light from the rear sweeps sideways over the machine," he says. The play of light and shadow brings out the depth of the engine block as well as the contours of the seat or the spokes of the rims.

"The grazing light models all the three-dimensional aspects of the bike, making it more approachable and alive," Wollstein says. For cruisers, Wollstein prefers the longest possible focal lengths between 80 and 100 millimeters, so as not to further distort the already extreme proportions of individual components. On the other hand, he photographs athletes and café racers with small focal lengths between 35 and 50 millimeters to show small components such as headlights and handlebars differently. Because of the usually expressive front or the reduced design, many models also lend themselves to a frontal photo.

Enduros he rather shoots from the side with a 80-millimeter-lens to play visually with the big tank and the high seating position. Important: The exhaust always belongs on the photo. And for driving shots, the pro advises turning on lights: they bring the bike to life.

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