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Home » Cycling » The Noob’s Guide: How to Photograph a Bike, the Proper Staging of a Bike…

The Noob’s Guide: How to Photograph a Bike, the Proper Staging of a Bike…


December 2013

I took a photo of the Venge for a post the other day.  Now, I know what I’m doing and it still took five photos to get it right…  I thought I’d share the progression of photos to demonstrate how I go about setting up my bike so it’s ready for a photo.

First there are a few holier than holy rules that simply should not be broken:
Rule number one (which I would have to work to break because I always ride in the big ring, ahem…):  Big ring up front, middle to small cog at the back.  Also, be careful not to photograph your bike on the big ring up front and the big cog in the back too – this is called “cross-chaining” – riding in this gear combination is not advisable and can speed up the wear and tear of your drivetrain…  The idea is to photograph the drivetrain in a rideable gear combination that says “I ride strong” (even if you don’t).  This is the only rule that cannot be broken – with one exception…  The summit or climbing photo.
Rule number two:  Drivetrain facing out toward the camera.  This rule is not quite as hard and fast as the big ring rule, especially if it’s a “spur of the moment” photo.  If you have the capacity to stage the photo though, this rule should be observed.  Rule number three:  That bike had better be cleanObviously, “I’m awesome because I am/was out riding in deplorable “tough guy” conditions” photos do not apply the same way – in those instances a mucked up bike is appropriate and cool.  Otherwise, give the baby a bath.

In any event, here is an illustrated progression of the photos (click to embiggen):



Final photo as it appeared in my post

Final photo as it appeared in my post


Here are a couple more that didn’t make the cut for various reasons but  did turn out fairly well:


Focus is just a bit off – too bad too, I like this one…

The photo above is actually better than the one I used in the post in a few ways…  First, my saddle is perfectly level – you could shoot that with a laser and set your laser by it…  The angle to the camera was a bit lower, closer to the ground, so the optical illusion that my saddle is a little off goes away.  Also, I’ve got the crank arms in an “even more appropriate” position.  Finally, because of the lower angle again,  my handlebar looks snappy and aggressive, as it should.  There were three reasons I chose to scrap this one for the post – 1) I liked the brighter sunshine coming in the window 2) I didn’t like the way the focus was lost on the rear rim and top tube and 3) the knotty pine in that bedroom is very old and still looks quite amazing but there’s a bit of an age/moisture stain on the window jamb that isn’t quite so visible in the photo I used in the post.

While this much attention to detail isn’t always entirely necessary, it sure doesn’t hurt…  If you love your bike be sure to show her (or him) off properly (and if you don’t, you bought the wrong bike).



  1. As much as I appreciate knotty pine, it is too much of a distraction (most any indoor background is). I would try to stage it outside following your other rules and lose the plastic water bottle.Still, thanks for another great post.

  2. Though not mentioned but you did it, remove the clip on pedals. I would also not have the water bottles on and not have a window in the picture.

    • bgddyjim says:

      LOL… The platform pedals came off the bike before the reflectors! No chance of that bike ever seeing anything but KEO’s – which would be on there but they’re on my trainer bike. The bottle was arguably a mistake.

      The location, with the window, is what it is – only spot in that bedroom that worked and there was too much snow outside to do it right. Point taken though.

  3. mytravelmateblog says:

    Have you experienced any chain slap?

    • bgddyjim says:

      Never – not once on the Venge and I’ve been on some pretty gnarly roads. Not riding the small ring (except maybe +6-8%) obviously helps avoid that. It does have a protective sticker on the chain stay just in case though.

  4. The bike had better be clean? Sounds like something a person who would ride a bike on a trainer in the basement would say! Four out of my five bikes prefer to be photographed with snow, mud and ice on them (my main road bike doesn’t like snow, or mud).

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