The Bike Shed

June 8, 2015 Events 4 Comments

Hello and welcome to my photography blog!

I’m covering a lot of awesome shows and festivals this summer, and would love to share with you how they go from an event photographer’s perspective. There’s so much to see and do in London, so my aim is to shout about some of this good stuff and also share some photography tips and experiences. Don’t be surprised however if you catch me blogging about adventures from further afield – my Canon goes everywhere with me!

If you have any comments or feedback I’d love to hear from you. In the meantime, let’s kick off with The Bike Shed London.

Two weeks ago on the May Bank holiday weekend, the Bike Shed set up home in East London’s iconic Tobacco Dock. For 48 hours this grade I listed warehouse hosted around 150 custom motorcycles, some very cool clobber, and a hell of a lot of beards. I was privileged enough to be part of the 2015 photography team and had an awesome day out amongst these beautiful machines. The crowd was warm and friendly and from an event photography perspective, it was a fantastic experience for me.

On arrival there was a huge queue already forming at 930am, before the giant cast-iron gates had even opened and it was clear enthusiasts were already buzzing in anticipation. From the range of people queuing I could tell it would be a great day full of interesting characters. I was pleasantly surprised to find more going on than just motorcycles on display however; in one corner was an on-site tattooist, in another a bustling old-school barbershop. There was also a bar, barrista coffee, all the latest motorcycle swag plus an artist painting custom helmets which all made for interesting additions to the event and awesome subjects / scenes to photograph.

Artist hand-painting helmet

Barber in action Young girl watching barber shop Close up of Thy Barber stylist, tattooed hand and old school accessoriesThe bikes themselves were just something else… from Café Racers to Scramblers, Trackers to Bobbers, debut creations from artisan builders plus an abundance of motor muscle from supporters Yamaha, Ducati and Harley-Davidson. Now in its third year, the Bike Shed Motorcycle Club started life hosting underground events for motorcycle shed builders. Their social media network boasts over 300,000 followers, and after last month’s successful event in Paris it was clear the organisers were proud to be putting on something special for their UK community.

As with all events and festivals I knew I wanted to get a well-rounded collection of images to re-tell the essence of the day; a combination of visitors, stock, vendors and surroundings. My photography style is more journalistic, in my portfolio you’ll find a few photos of people posing but in the main I like capturing people unawares, and The Bike Shed was amazing for this.

Cafe Racer Honda 750

Man inspecting Yamaha Scrambler Ducati Bikes parked outside on the dock Man taking photo of bikes parked outside

Harley Davidson 61 Gulf

Custom Harley Urban Roadster 48

Tobacco Dock as a venue is a dream to shoot; with an abundance of natural lighting, original character features and packed with industrial charm it didn’t fail to provide the perfect backdrop for the new wave biker scene. The Bike Shed seemed a good size too, filling enough of the venue space to offer lots to see but not so much you felt overwhelmed. Vendors like Warrs, Davida, and Motolegends were on-hand to chat all things bike and offered stock and goodies ranging from custom gear and apparel to photography and art.

Lens-wise I took my walk-around 24-105mm. Having been to Tobacco Dock before for several events including last year’s London Tattoo Convention, I knew the light would be good enough for its maximum aperture of f/4 to handle. Plus on my full frame 5D MarkIII, 24mm would be enough of a wide angle to get entire bikes into the shot if I didn’t have much room to manouvre. I think it did a pretty good job, I love this lens for all-purpose photography. In smaller events it doesn’t feel as intrusive as my 70-200mm, and has enough zoom to catch those subtle candid shots. I left my 50mm at home, mainly because being time-restricted I wanted to spend less time switching lenses and more time capturing what was going on, and it turned out to be a wise decision!

As far as London events go, if you’re a bike enthusiast I’d highly recommend The Bike Shed. I’d also add it’s great for kids – I spotted several families there and there’s no hands-off policy so kids are allowed to get as up close to the bikes as they want (supervised!) There’s even table football just in case attention spans start to wander.

If you’re looking to add to your event photography portfolio, again I’d definitely recommend this show. It’s amazing for people watching, so it’s a bit of a playground if like me, you like to take a more journalistic approach. Check out more of my snaps here, and here for the full album.

Crowd admiring bikes

Biker photographic art Man removing helmet Biker socks

Organisers snapping the event Beautiful custom painted helmet

Bike shed visitors looking through apparel

Bike Shed visitor photographing bike