The unveiling of the new BMW HP2 Sport at the recent Paris motorcycle show gave journalists and public a first sight of the sportiest, most powerful and lightest Boxer of all time.
Bristling with high-end, top-quality racing parts, the HP2 Sport is the third model in BMW Motorrad's 'High Performance' range and has been designed to represent the ultimate in riding performance. Along with the HP2 Megamoto launched earlier this year, and the original High Performance HP2 Enduro, the HP2 Sport is already generating significant inquiries at Motorrad dealers all over the world.
Although customers will have to wait until next Spring to get their hands on the 128 hp sports boxer, they will soon be able to collect a brochure from their local BMW Motorrad dealer, which has been put together with the same amount of effort and dedication as the bike itself.
BMW Motorrad's marketing department goes to great lengths to ensure that all new models are given the best chance of success in the market through promotion in brochures, advertising and point of sale. And several months before the HP2 Sport was unveiled, a team consisting of marketing coordinators, agency staff, expert rider (Markus Barth) and photographer Paul Barshon converged on the private Ascari racetrack in southern Spain for the brochure shoot for the HP2 Sport and HP2 Megamoto bikes.
The HP2 Sport will undoubtedly be one of the most eagerly awaited bikes of 2008. With its race-bred components, aggressive styling and exhilarating performance, it is the most uncompromising and single-minded road and track bike that BMW Motorrad has ever produced. Therefore, compromise was not an option when it came to producing the brochure images.
BMW Motorrad needed a photographer who could portray the HP2 Sport in its natural environment, as well as show its performance capabilities. Renowned Australian photographer Paul Barshon was the obvious choice for the job, as he has been responsible for the images seen in many of BMW's recent product brochures.
"I photographed the G series last year and have also shot the R 1200 S and the K 1200 R Sport," said Paul. "Because I've worked with BMW before, we've built up a great team dynamic - I understand exactly what they want from a shoot and what needs to be done to make it successful. Quality remains of the utmost importance to the brand and all of its brochures should have the same feel. BMW asked me to do the HP2 photo shoot because of my previous work with the company, my knowledge of the brand and my experience in MotoGP photographing some of the fastest bikes in the world."
Paul's love of photography developed at a very young age: "My father bought me my first Kodak 110 when I was nine-years-old and I haven't stopped taking photographs since. As far back as I can remember, I was using the family bathroom as a darkroom and would be drying prints all over the house. There's something very special about seeing images develop in front of you. That feeling has never left me. Even with modern digital cameras, I still love seeing images appear as they are developed."
As a teenager, Paul studied photography in Melbourne before he started taking pictures for commercial and corporate clients. However, he soon turned his attention to motorcycles: "I'd always had an interest in bikes and approached Australian Motorcycle News for work in 1997. The next thing I knew, I was a motorcycle photographer. I moved to London three years later and shooting motorcycles has now become my main passion."
It was while working in London that Paul became a successful motorsport photographer and spent four years working with the Suzuki and Yamaha teams in the MotoGP Championship. It was partly due to his experience photographing fast bikes that he was chosen to produce the photography for the HP2 Sport brochure. The photo shoot took place in southern Spain at the privately owned Ascari circuit in the beginning of August. The track's exclusivity made it an attractive location as the bikes could be kept hidden until the pictures were released at the Paris motorcycle show.
"Ascari rates as one of the best circuits I've ever shot," says Paul. "When constructing the circuit, the owner took corners and elements from many of the world's most famous circuits and then put them together on one track. It has a number of hills, drop-offs and fast corners, which makes it really pleasing to shoot - and probably even better to ride!"
Although the photo shoot at Ascari took just three days, the planning took much longer: "A shoot like this one can take up to five months of planning," explains Paul. "A lot of research is involved beforehand and many discussions take place about which parts of the bike should be emphasised in the pictures. Furthermore, drawings are produced prior to the shoot so that we have an exact idea of how the finished brochure should look."
Most circuits are booked up many months in advance so deciding where to shoot the bike so no one sees it prematurely is also a difficult and time-consuming process. Despite all the planning and clear briefs, problems can still occur, as Paul explains:
"We did have a few problems on this shoot. However, one of the main issues was the heat. As we conducted the shoot in the middle of summer, the midday heat became unbearable and it was very difficult for the test rider to maintain consistent speed at 40?C without compromising safety."
Now that the news of this exciting bike is now in the public domain, the brochure is currently being finalized and then translated into all the major languages before being printed and delivered to a dealership near you. BMW Motorrad and Paul Barshon hope you agree that it was worth all the effort.