Bicycling Uphill Along the Rhône

Bicycling Uphill Along the Rhône

It took me a while to figure out what my photographic ‘style’ is, but in the past six months or so I think I’ve settled on a particular visual language that makes sense for me. In contrast to the wide-ranging and rather aimless fiddling that I did with my camera the first few years I had it, these days I find myself looking for some very specific qualities: elevation views, people in profile, perpendicular geometry, and flattened space. This picture, taken last month in Lyon, France, is a good example; its subject matter is mundane to be sure, but the powerfully straight line of that back wall, along with the iconically silhouetted bicyclist, gives me a serenely satisfying feeling. The world reduced to a layout.

  1. Part of me wants to say that there’s nothing mundane about cycling, and the other part wants cycling to be so normal it’s totally mundane.

    Lovely shot, either way!

  2. Great photo. Your remarks are not too far from what I aim for (or try to aim for) when I take pictures. It’s the ones that don’t overdo it, that focus on the perspective and emphasize the the geometry which I think contribute to the best shots.

    I like the slanted line in the photo the best, it contrasts with everything else. You should put some more up.

  3. I always enjoy your photos, and this one as well. Your last line is interesting in that it seems to reveal that you look at the world through graphic design.

    Before, in art school, I was always taught to produce a topical meaning in a photo and then follow though by producing a series — that while disparate formally — produced elaborations on the topical theme. The topical theme was just a ruse, as the goal was to try to see your personality though the photos. This is all the more difficult since photography has to be taken of and from the world.

    Diane Arbus seems like a great example. Even though her photos were topically portraits of many different kinds of people, they were always so similarly strange that looking at 10 portraits by her seemed more like looking a 1 portrait of her as an artist. Seeing her work as a portrait of herself is in contrast to seeing her work as documentary or even seeing the formal beauty of any particular photo.

    Sheesh… I’ll stop now. Thanks for making the gears turn.

  4. I had a similar revelation a couple years ago and codified my findings into something I call, “the year in walls.” I find that having decided on an approach to photography, it’s opened up my eye to trying things specific to that technique. Or, more to the point, knowing what my style is has given me the freedom to explore what I think it is or can be. And sometimes, even, to challenge the limits of that style.

  5. Perpendicular geometry has and will always be interesting. But I find that the most engaging and visually stimulating idea that one can lend to a photograph is and will always be people. Humanity reads stories about itself with the up-most interest. You’ll also find mutual contrast and grids also very applicable. But more so than the rule of thirds; give the rule of eighths a try! Great insight, happy shooting!

  6. Lovely tones. And what’s particularly great about a bicycle like this in a shot is that it adds tension. We know it must be moving, we can feel the effort, and it automatically leads us back up that slope. I think a pedestrian would have had a more static feel here. So perhaps you should add ‘movement out of the shot’ to your style description (I’ve noticed it in other pics too)

Thank you! Your remarks have been sent to Khoi.