Our project is simple. Combine our passion for biking, photography and filming.
We want to get back to the essentials, experience the local life, slow down and do it all in an eco-friendly way.
By cycling instead of driving or taking a tour bus, we get to ride our way right into the heart of local village life. Southeast Asia is growing up fast, where the once green and vast spaces are becoming concrete and confined.
We want to document the way things are now before it’s too late.
We like to think of our bicycles as the tools that let us close the gap between ‘tourists’ and ‘locals’.
- Cycling takes us off the beaten path and allows us to photograph people and things by being ‘in’ the experience, not just documenting it from the outside and then rushing to the next stop.
Here we arrive at the crossroads of cycling and photography. We get a unique view into the local life by cycling, but we always keep our respect for the locals in mind.
- The first rule of a good documentary reporter is to keep your camera in your pocket for as long as possible. Capturing culture and beauty of the local scenery and people isn’t a race.
- We need to respect the subject, and that means getting to know it. If you rush to start snapping photos, you achieve nothing but angry faces and wasted battery life.
- It’s so important to respect the people and their privacy, just as you would expect someone to respect yours. Leave the camera in your bag for a while. Sit down, share whatever you have, maybe a cigarette, a pen. . . . . whatever! Play with the children, sing a song or dance with them.
- The goal is to become part of the experience, not an onlooker. It’s a rewarding experience in its own just to become part of the group, and you’ll not soon forget it.
- Keep in mind, things in the village move at a pace we’re not used to. A slow pace. It takes time to break down the ‘tourist’ wall and feel out the group. Don’t rush it, but enjoy it.
Once you and your subject are comfortable, it’s time to play with the camera. You can ease the camera into the situation by perhaps taking a few selfies with the children. Even though you might be in a rural village, there are probably smart phones around, so let people take selfies with you as well. Share images of previous villages or scenery with them.
The main goal here is to spend time with the subject and get close.
Photography is all about light and framing
- Use the ‘selfie’ session to calibrate your settings and think about how you want to frame your shots. Now you’re free to start shooting, and it’s because you’ve taken the time to become part of the family and that camera in your hands is not a threat or nuisance anymore.
- Never give money to the locals, or pay them to be able to take their picture.
The most important thing you can give the villagers is your respect.
By spending time hanging out with them, you’re paying them with respect. If you feel like you want to give them money, go and buy some fruit instead and share it with them. Giving them a little bit of money isn’t going to change their lives, so spend it on something that you can share together and you’ll find that the money has paid for much more than its face value.
If you do end up buying some fruit to share, don’t be surprised if nobody will eat with you. It’s a cultural thing, and they will wait until you’re done before having some themselves. It’s a bit weird when you first see it, but it’s natural to them and after all, you’re in their home!
You know the saying ‘When in Rome, do as the Romans do’.