20 March 2013

Kristof Ramon - remember his name

A fantastic photographer

I have a new favorite photographer - Kristof Ramon. Kristof Ramon (watermark Kramon) is a professional photographer, out of Belgium, who equally captures portraits, equipment, and landscape.

An artist who seems to experience a bike race in the same way I see a race, or rather in the way in which I try to capture a race. Photography is one thing I get really excited about, because I am learning, which means I could stay entertained and interested for years to come. If I can read/write/recommend reviews of equipment or places, why not a photographer.

To begin with, Kristof Ramon takes wonderful portraits (as seen above), freezing emotion on a face in time. To me portraiture captures the mind of cycling by conveying an up-close-and-personal story of what is about to happen or what just happened. This is what I personally look for at races - what can be foreseen in a face or body: the hope, the glory, the agony, the past, the future. It is how we relate to each other.

We can feel the emotion of this rider.  Photo tweeted by Kristof Ramon

Kristof Ramon also manages to photograph fragments of the bike in a way in which I believe many of us see our own bikes - all the details individually. When I am riding a bike, I do not see its entirety as a posed publicity side-shot of the bike. I barely sense the bike under me as it becomes part of me. Instead my bike is a series of snapshots of watching the gears turn, the tires roll, checking the wheels and breaks, lubing the chain, knowing every inch of the wrap of my handlebar tape, knowing my saddle by scuff mark, the scratches on my pedals. To a bike rider, a bike is the sum total of it's carefully selected and worn parts. This is why I like tight-shots of bikes, it is how I see my world from the saddle.

Niels Albert's bike by Kramon

The heart and soul of cycling in photos

Look at Kristof Ramon's photographs carefully http://www.flickr.com/photos/kristoframon/show/  He hung out with the Lotto Belisol team this past weekend at Milan-San Remo and got some amazing shots. 

You will see the art of a man who rides a bike, who knows what it is like to race and be at races. He captures a bike race like a man who knows cycling from the inside out, not just a photographer who knows his lenses and composition. He seems uninterested in presenting only perfection, instead presenting the human experience, which is rarely perfect but so much more interesting. As a result, through the variety he gives us, the whole picture of being at a bike race emerges.

Apparently taking his cues from the experience rather than the composition of the shot only, he seems to know when to go big and capture the entire scene, sensing when majesty and conditions of the environment can overwhelm a cyclist. This is how we ride a bike through the world, the tiny details, awareness of tactics and placement of people, and then bam - the grand feeling of this is amazing, this is wild, this is huge, I can't believe I am here.

My own experience as first a bike rider, then a fan, then a photographer, has helped me add fun to my day at the race. I can anticipate movement before it happens, I understand the flow and timing of a race, but I haven't lost how the Fan experiences the day - through the people, and in the spaces within 6-20 feet around us - not in the perfectly composed scenic frame shots. But in the individual moments that make our memories and bring us back for more.

I'll take a bike rider with a camera any day

A good Photographer is a gift to us all. What they communicate and neatly package as history is a result of their own experience and their own history. The best convey a universal perspective, suspending time, not just by giving us their view, but allowing us to say "that is the way I see it," or better, "that is the way I imagine it."

I will be a regular follower of Kristof Ramon.

About Kristof Ramon
Kristof Ramon blog (he gives photography tips on his blog!)
Kristof Ramon portfolio
Kristof Ramon twitter

Other Photographers

Photographing a bike race can be exhausting rewarding work, yet fun. I appreciate that these photographers make me feel as if I were there at the race. (*** indicates my favorites):
Cycling is more than the big white 300mm lens

This past winter I discovered a new favorite lens when I researched and purchased a 43mm, 1.9 lens, which I found to be perfect for Cyclocross. Then I read this on Kristof Ramon's blog, "One of the big bonuses with a headshot is that you can create a VERY quick portrait of someone that is almost always interesting. Most of the times I do them with available light and with the cheapest pro-lens around: the 50mm1.8. My favorite." Cool, I can't wait to use my new lens for more portraits.

Learn from a pro:
A webinar how-to video featuring Kristof Ramon: Kristof Ramon presents: Shooting cycling races – what technique to use at 50 km/h?

This is Kristof

Kristof Ramon attended film school and then followed his passion for cycling into photographing the sport. You can see his work at CyclingTips.com and other places including work for the specific teams like SKY, Leopard Trek, and Lotto-Belisol (which means he must be a nice guy to be around), look for his Kramon watermark to recognize his work. Or try to recognize Kristof himself at the races.