Sean McGowan - Top 10 Cycling Images

Photographer Sean McGowan has an incredible eye for capturing the excitement of cycle racing. We caught up with Sean to find out what makes an amazing image and what goes though his mind when he’s at a race. Over to you Sean…

1 This became the cover image from the Bristol GP zine from the inaugural event back in 2015. It’s easy to get drawn into the trap of including the whole rider in the shot over and over again. By changing the framing it totally changes the image. 

2 I’ve always tried to use my photography to tell a story and this is a big part of my day at the Bristol GP races. I always arrive early to see the beginnings of the day and try to include some of those images in the final edit. Here a rider is quietly waiting for their race at the 2015 edition of the GP

3 Although I predominantly use digital cameras for my cycling photography, I shoot a lot of film on other projects and there are certain parts of cycling photography which work well with the format. I’ll normally have a film camera in my kit bag, typically a medium format using 120 roll film and I tend to use it to capture the slower more thoughtful goings on at events, normally in the rider warm up areas.

This one is from the rider area at Red Hook Crit London No1. The late afternoon sun was casting long shadows of the bikes and riders as they took slow riders around the rider area before the finals. For this one I used a Bronica ETRS with Kodak Portra 400. 

4 Tour of Britain 2014 - If there’s one thing that has become clear over the past five years it’s that the British know how to spectate at a bike race. I had manoeuvred myself into position fairly early for the arrival of the peloton and the crowds built up around me to the point where I had to be elbows out to get the shots! 

For me this image has it all: a top class rider, crazy fans and the Union Jack flying in the background. A proper British bike race. 

5 I always enjoy playing with motion blur in cycling photography to emphasise the movement, selecting a slower shutter speed and panning the camera with the subject as it moves it. This is from the Red Hook Crit London No1, 2015.

6 Another medium format film shot from Red Hook Crit London No1. The rider warm up area was full of sets of rollers so gave plenty of opportunity for the classic ‘warm up’ shot. 

7 The peloton makes it’s way up Ladies Mile during the Bristol stage of the 2016 Tour of Britain. It’s a sea of riders and a wall of fans. Bristol certainly turned out in force for Stage 7 TT and Circuit Race. 

8 Sometimes the setting makes the photo. Despite the peloton being at the bottom of the Avon Gorge, being up at the Clifton Observatory gave me a unique view point not often seen at races without a helicopter! 

9 A totally different perspective in this shot from the 2016 GP.  To get the shot I was lying on the ground on the outside of the corner and used the rider dropping down below the road surface to create the blocking composition. 

10 Sometimes, to get the shots you want, you’ve got to be cheeky! At the first GP in 2015 I blagged my way into the lead out car for the main race to give a different view of the race. I did the same the following year and got this image of the pro mens race before the hammer dropped.

You can follow Sean on instagram @f.stopper, and check out his website