Styling and modeling for two wheels

I’m working on a proposal for a bike project near Mountain View. In order to score some brownie points for being ‘local’, my partner and I decided we should include some shots of cyclists tooling around past recognizable neighborhood landmarks.

I was lucky, Anne happened to on a bike delivery tour in Mountain View, and had free time,so she could model for me. Better yet, she had with her her long tights over her short tights, as well as her cycling jacket, so I could one model in several costume changes! It’s better not to have what appears to be the same person in different photos on the same document, because then it looks too staged!

Rather than stake myself out somewhere and wait for strangers to randomly pedal past, I usually bribe (lunch) or cajole friends to model on bike for me. I’ve shot Joe stopped on the bike detector symbol (to show correct positioning), and yahooing with glee as he comes barreling down the ramp of a nearby bridge. I have a shot of Marcella pedaling through an alfalfa field with a baguette sticking out of her backpack (it’s based on a 1980’s French tourism shot of a guy wearing a beret pedaling on his bike, with a baguette at the back). I was all set to guilt-trip one of my colleagues to pose for a bike lane shot; he was supposed to create some files for me, but forgot, which held up something I was working on. He agreed to pose with such alacrity, I was surprised. I suppose he secretly relished being a model, even if it was for a boring plan document. (Cue: “I’m too sexy for my bike…”). I’ve gotten my Caltrain colleagues to pose for me too: Leslie is walking her bike (actually mine) down the platform ramp, because you’re not supposed to ride on them.

I’ve shot Chris in a red jacket on the San Tomas Aquino Trail; VTA is still using those photos! Tom gets a kick out of it whenever he sees them in the newspaper; maybe they’ll be in circulation long enough that her sons will be old enough to be able to recognize their mom in print too!

Having a model for my photoshoot means I can make them ride over and over again and get multiple shots, praying that there will be a few usable ones from the batch. Also with models, I can shoot them face on, and ask them to smile. Bicycling is fun, remember that! I hate photos that show bicyclists’ backs.

I’m the first to admit it – I’m not a good photographer. What I am good at, however, is styling my bicyclist models. By that, I mean I dictate and organize the type of clothes and accessories that the model will be wearing for the photo shoot. Last year I worked on the photo shoots for a print campaign for BTWD in Oakland. One of the photos shows a woman lifting her bike onto a bike rack on the bus. She’s wearing my orange fleece sweater!

I firmly believe that the outfits on models in bike photos help subliminally reinforce key message points:

1) Bright colors make you more visible: the more likely motorists notice you, the more likely they’ll drive carefully around you on your bike

2) Wear regular clothes; you don’t need to have specialized biking clothes to pedal in on a day-to-day basis. You should definitely get a helmet. Next, get bike shorts/tights because of the padded bottoms, and gloves. Cleated shoes and bike jerseys are optional.

3) Wear white at night: again, it makes you more visible to motorists.

4) The other thing is I do like using women cyclist models – they become role models, because amongst the universal cycling population in the US, bicyclists are predominantly male. (Funny though, most bike planners I know are female!)

Likewise, I find the propensity for Asian people to wear black (or other shades of mind-numbingly somber greys and browns) to be very annoying. It makes everyone look alike in the crowd, and then I can’t locate people. (I can’t remember people’s faces very well.) It’s bad enough that most people have rather similar hairstyles (well we can’t help all having naturally black and straight hair!), or ‘ugly but hip’ glasses.

Anyways, we’ve finished the final draft of the proposal, and are going to print tomorrow, and submitting the day after. We’ll see how it goes; I have no idea what to expect. I’m assuming all the major firms are submitting proposals (everyone is very hungry), so either the client will just blow us off because we’re unknowns, or they might call us in for an interview out of curiosity. Actually my partner was at one of the major firms for a really long time, so she’s got the cred! But developing this proposal was a good experience for me, I’ve never done a formal competitive one before. It would be great if we made it to interview round, I’d like to experience that too. (There’s some differences between a proposal interview and a personal interview.)

I’ve been doing nothing but working on it (interspersed with seeing movies), so I feel like a troglodyte. Deja vu, feels like I’ve been working on a term paper in college again.


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