How To Photograph Motorcycles Like A Pro

4 tips for taking better motorcycle pictures

A few things to know about motorcycle photography from the shadow of Tinseltown: It may look like a breeze, but it seldom is. Planning and timing are important, and so is a lust-worthy machine, but a polished image takes teamwork. Wardrobe and "talent" are key. Start with the most talented rider you know and put them in gear appropriate for the bike you're shooting. It's only then that you're ready to get to work. And—just like in Hollywood—don't be satisfied with just a single take.

Lights

motorcycle photography lighting
LightsBrenda Weaver

Put simply, shoot the light. Plan your photography around the golden hour; early morning and late afternoon offer those magical glimpses of warm and appealing light. Shooting this time of day increases your chances of creating something special, but it won’t be enough on its own. Try to improve your scene by walking around the motorcycle and watching how the light plays across its reflective surfaces.

Camera

motorcycle photography camera
CameraBrenda Weaver

There's a saying among photographers: The best camera you have is the one you have with you. Mobile phones have amazing cameras built in, but for a pro, a DSLR and a limited assortment of telephoto and wide-angle lenses is best. Use your telephoto lens and a slightly lower shutter speed to create a blurred background that accentuates velocity, and the wide-angle lens to show off the bike in the context of the surrounding environment.

Action

Motorcycle photography action
ActionBrenda Weaver

Sometimes a static photo of a motorcycle basking in golden light is just right, but if you want to shoot like a pro, add a little emotion with some action. The same scene with a rider leaned over in a corner, hovering next to a bright-yellow lane stripe can make a good photo great. Always play it safe and be courteous to other traffic; it never hurts to remind drivers that motorcycle people are good people.

Postproduction

motorcycle photography postproduction
PostproductionBrenda Weaver

A little retouching is critical if you want a professional look. Every professional photographer “works” their images. There are countless photo-editing applications available for both computers and smartphones. Photoshop, Lightroom, and Snapseed are among our favorites. Don’t go overboard; just a little contrast and sharpening will make your favorite shots stand out.