The Image Conscious Cyclist (or, how to become a Rapha model)

Once upon a time, taking a photo was a business not to be taken lightly.

I for one think that the world is a poorer place for losing that sense of anticipation and excitement which came from taking a camera film to the chemist to be developed, and collecting it a mere 24 hours later to discover a few serviceable photo’s in amongst a pile of out of focus portraits with red-eye.

Tradition dictated, of course, that the last three or four photos were snapped hurriedly to finish the roll of film, and were usually of pets.

But times have changed, to the extent that anyone under the age of twenty may have already given up on reading this, on the basis that they haven’t got the foggiest idea what a camera film is and why you might go about getting it developed. As for waiting 24 hours to see your photo’s…

But despite the loss of innocent anticipation, photography wise we’ve never had it so good (even using the word photography feels a bit outdated and quaint).

Dramatic...moody...could be a Rapha photo shoot (Image:
Dramatic…moody…could be a Rapha photo shoot

I’ve written before about my mild irritation on receiving an inbox full of cycling selfies every summer – irritation based largely on the fact that I’m sitting at my desk engaging in a fight to the death with an Excel spreadsheet, while my cycling buddies are out enjoying themselves – but whether I like it or not, the fact is that the image conscious cyclists among us have embraced the modern obsession with recording the world by camera phone, to the point that every ride is a potential photo-shoot.

If you take enough photos and spend enough time doctoring them when you get home, it’s possible for almost any cyclist to look like a self-consciously cool hipster from a Rapha advert.

Judging by the photographic output on the social media platforms of some, I can only imagine that the average three hour ride with them would involve around an hour of actual pedalling time, and two of posing, preening and generally perfecting the granite jawed precision required to maintain the image.

Don’t get me wrong, I can appreciate a striking visual image as much as the next man, and all this is largely just a bit of fun after all, but I’d rather not grind to halt on my Sunday morning ride every time the landscape, the weather, or the light changes, to record it and share it on Instagram.

Incidentally, I once set up an Instagram account because it seemed to be the done thing, and I’ve never posted a single image to it; mainly because I’m one of the few people under 40 in the western hemisphere who feels a bit self-conscious by the idea of taking a ‘selfie’, but also because my life isn’t that interesting, visually, to share.

To my single committed follower on Instagram who waits patiently from some digital output from me, I salute you.

I suppose the solution to the stop-start selfie taking interruption to a good ride would be to get someone to follow me around and do the snapping for me. Whilst I get on with cultivating some interesting facial hair, does anyone know how you go about getting a job as a Rapha model?



  1. I never understood how or even why guys would stop to do the selfie thing… Now, the 25 mph photo from the back of the group (of the group, not me) I get. I like any photo you don’t have to stop to take – or the occasional scenery photo, I like those too.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve got an older bridge camera, still a decent one and full size. I occasionally take it out hung around my neck. At times when the road is quiet I can take photos on the move & of others. Some of the results can be quite satisfying. I don’t mourn the demise of film at all though.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I have a dormant Instagram account, but I do occasionally use Flickr (and Google+ which used to be Picasa), so that if my laptop is stolen, or the house and external hard drive go up in flames, I’ll still be able to see some of my favourite shots.


  4. […] claim – whether it’s based on extensive data analysis, or simply an assumption that we all strut around in our Rapha kit admiring our carbon bikes (heaven forbid) – but that’s what they […]


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