A lesson in locations

I love my job. It doesn’t pay well, I work my ass off for little return and I get ignored a lot, but I absolutely love it. One thing I really love about it is the locations I get to scout, find or get shown. That is, until the location is one street and the subject is 5 drastically different motorcycles. 

This was the case when Joanna Benz approached me with a 1 days shoot covering a range of Ducatis. The problem being it had to be done that week, it had to be done in a day, and we were stuck for time to travel with each bike.

Thankfully, W M Snell Ducati in Alton has a pretty cool workshop, more specifically the doorway to it and thankfully it is a good size for bike number 1, the Ducati Scrambler Cafe Racer. Once the exposure was set and outfit chosen(I should really get paid more for being a stylist too) Jo did her thing.

Once we had finished there, I wheeled the bike away, but caught eye of it in front of a basic corrugated warehouse wall. A quick placement and we had a second location and only one bike in.

Bike number 2 was the Scrambler Desert Sled. Out of all the bikes, this was possibly my favourite, if not a close second. The first thought was to try for something that matched the off-road nature of this, the problem being we were limited to Station road, home of Ducati Alton, Waitrose, a few warehouses and a train station. The Ducati bikes it was. Put amongst a variety of other bikes, we used them to create a depth to the image and brand it heavily with the Ducati logo. I did have an issue with the stand-out gold front wheel of the Cafe Racer distracting from the rest of the shot, but moving it our of frame sorted that quickly

I was fairly happy with this, so we moved off to look at a possibility of using a side road for the next bike, when both Joanna and myself noticed a huge blue ISO container outside of a plaster holding company. Off I went to collect the bike and off Jo skipped to work her charm, but when she came out she looked way too excited about an ISO container. I would later learn what ‘You have to see inside, its amazing!’ meant.

Next up was the problem bike. The Hypermotard. Both Joanna and myself loved this bike, though Jo wasn’t keen on the height of it. The problem being, we were running out of options. Something about the front of Waitrose struck Jo, so another outfit change and off we strolled to try and find something. We tried several different angles, focal lengths and styles of shot, but nothing grabbed me. Nothing was capturing my attention, so we put a lid on it and went to try the next bike.

This was the one. This was the location and bike that had Jo very excited. The Ducati Monster 1200r and a plaster holding warehouse. Walking the bike through the open double doors, I though Jo had finally lost the plot. Large industrial benches, huge racking and a forklift, but Jo kept walking right past all that to this. A large, moodily but well lit room with olds and casts hanging from the walls. one wall was all frosted glass giving some amazing defused light. Amongst all of this, the bright red Ducati stood out so well. 

With the mood at an all time high for the day, we decided to move on to the next bike, the one we aren’t sure about, the SuperSport. An odd mix, visually, of the Panigale and….well something a lot more tame. The location, Waitrose multi-story car park. It was raining by this point, but we managed to make pretty good use of the top of the ramp, though it did mean that whenever a car came Jo had to do a very steady lap around the carpark to come back into place. the key to this one was to keep things simple, where as the previous location was a part of the picture, it added to the whole thing, this could very easily detract from it. Very much like adding a bin or port-a-loo to, well, any picture.

All bikes done…almost. The problem child. The Hyper. Neither of us were happy with what we had gotten, so we decided to give it another go. Leaving the bike at the shop, we walked around the area, looking at every possible bit from every angle, until Jo suggested this opening in a hedge. Dark background against the bright red Hyper…it could work. I then did my usual and climbed over the railing, into the bushes and found a second angle in the same area. Both came out well and both are pretty clean.

Shooting in Wales on the EVO triangle, or south of France is easy, so is the Urban streets of London, but where a good photographer earns his money is being able to work within confines, and still able to shine.