My first trip to Amsterdam over a decade ago was a catalyst for a new lifestyle. Witnessing an endless stream of bicycles contributed to a mild form of culture shock. I was intrigued by the casual approach and degree of awareness of people on bikes. Inspired, I no longer wanted to be a spectator. Upon returning to Toronto, I purchased my first bike.
In time, my fledgling interest in cycling in the city had grown into a real passion. Far removed from simply being a mode of transportation, there was a real sense of liberation in choosing to ride my bike. Each pedal stroke brought me closer to near manic levels. I was curious if others felt this way. Do they feel this sense of exhilaration and freedom? Perhaps a camera could answer this question.
This set the wheels in motion to start a blog. Engrossed in the jostling energy of the city, one thing became clear. Those that chose to ride a bicycle were an elevated state of human being. They made the decision to rid themselves of gridlocks, underground tubes and the general constraints of traveling in the city. Yet remained pragmatic and in total harmony with the urban environment. I felt this was the core principle of urban bicycle culture and my aim was to capture this theme.
I begin with scoping the streets, waiting patiently on foot with camera in hand. Mindful of the background, I make an effort to avoid cars in my shots. While I’m partial to those who exhibit style or character, my focus is to seize those moments of social interaction and daily habits. I see them as simply being pages of a story. In short time, I feel the need to get back on my bike where I will continue to shoot, hoping to capture a more engaging view. I refrain from taking posed shots, as I prefer a candid approach for a more photojournalistic perspective.
Bicycles in themselves often reveal character and personality reflective of their owners. I will take the time to rummage through parked bikes in the hope of finding something interesting. I enjoy corrosion, rust and broken parts as there is an element of nostalgia. In some peculiar way, I feel photographing these details will extend the life of these bikes.
Synchronicity has brought me back to Amsterdam, my new home. Now entrenched in the mecca of bicycle culture, there is certainly no shortage of material. I silently circle the rings, ready to capture new stories spun by the bicycle and the people who ride them.
~ Rolling Spoke | If you can breathe, bike
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