Creative Space: Allan Stone
British photographer, Allan Stone, has an uncanny knack for capturing the cut-and-thrust of bike racing, plus the humour and pathos that exists at its margins. Here, we round up some of his incredible images and find out what drives him...
From riders detangling their limbs and bikes from one another to teammates sharing a joke as they wait for the starter’s gun – there is something personal and perceptive about the images Allan Stone shoots. Here, he talks about his style, the thrill of the shoot and his Japanese dreams.
What makes you stand out as different creatively?
The use of colour is important to me, whether that’s tweaking the saturation or by adding or desaturating. I look for details, reflections, how the light falls – it’s easy to say, but lighting that 'sings' makes my heart skip. I use the camera to see, rather than as a mask to hide behind.
You do a great job of capturing the dynamism of bike racing in your shots. Why do you think you are so good at that?
You have to have passion, commitment, dedication, single-mindedness, power, strength and – above all – dedication in sport. Shooting and taking photographs is very similar. You have to love what you do, you have to work really hard. Success is all of the above, plus a little luck. Knowing your sport helps, with the anticipation of what is going to happen next really important.
We noticed a lot of candid start line photos on your Insta feed, many of them with an element of humour behind them. Tell us about that...
The start line can be a bit like a church service. What I mean by that is there is often a ritual before racing starts – a quietness.
There is always a focus that riders reflect and you can see their sacrifices in their faces. You can’t hide in cycling. You can see their vulnerabilities, their nervousness, an awkward smile, a yawn, the distraction of other riders. Its a great spot to shoot, to observe and look and see.
Is there a limit to the number of ways you can shoot a bike race? What new angle would you like to try?
Perhaps there isn’t a new way, but it's often how one’s work is used. I think the extra ‘real estate’ you get online allows you to use far more images than a magazine feature would.
I try to capture the feel, the emotion, the story of the day. The race, close-ups, portraits, movement, details. The little bits here and there that add up to a whole story. You can showcase all of that and more online.
If you could photograph any race or event around the world, which and why?
I would love to document Japanese keirin. The races look fantastic. I also love the women’s scene. It's not so shut down and the riders can be a little less guarded. There are also some fantastic riders and the market is growing and looking good.
What advice would you give your younger self? Believe in yourself and what you see, and take beautiful pictures. Easy!
See more of Allan’s work, cycling and otherwise, over on his awesome Instagram feed