Photographing a motorbike and rider in 30 minutes

Recently I had a photoshoot with an Auckland client who had bought a brand new Honda CBR300R motorbike. The brief was simple, which was to make the photos look like a professional poster that Honda may have used to promote the motorbike, while also including the proud new owner.

grey motorbike honda cbr300r reflection in dark sunset and rider

I had an idea that the motorbike lit against the setting sun, would really create atmosphere and punch and give the photos the right feel. I organized with the client the time and date to meet up, but I was scratching my head for a good location. Normally I would get out and scout a location, taking note of the best times to photograph and also the best angles. This was not possible, as I had been tied up on other commercial jobs. I actually had to fit this job in after an afternoon of photographing a water filter installation, for a company’s website.

The client had already indicated that he was happy to ride to any location that I had in mind. I knew we were pushed for time, as the sun would be setting early due to it being winter here in New Zealand. I met the client, but I was still not sure about which location would be best. I had an idea about where the setting sun would actually hit and I made a last minute snap decision to go to a spot that was close. We drove to the location and it is a large flat sealed area, in a remote place that would get a view of the setting sun. As we drove in, looking for the best spot on the sealed area, I noticed a very large puddle of water from where it had rained earlier in the day. I knew straight away that this would be perfect! There was no wind and the water would act as a mirror to give an amazing reflection.

motorbike honda cbr300r reflection in sunset

By the time we got to the location, the sun was already very low on the horizon and I knew that we only had a few minutes before it would be gone. This was not enough time to set up the lighting that I wanted to use, so when you are pushed for time, you should always go with what you know. I set up a strobe with a softbox and also a backlight, on light stands and was set up in about 5 minutes. This strobist set up is very versatile and is similar to the set up I used in the Angelic Concept Photoshoot.

motorbike honda cbr300r reflection in sunset and rider

I photographed for less than 30 minutes because the light was fading fast. As the light faded, the colours in the sky intensified. The resulting photos are spectacular and certainly look as if they are out of a magazine. That is a big result for not much time and I have another very happy client!


I am sure you have heard the statement “When in doubt, go with what you know”. This holds a lot of weight in photography and you need to know quite a bit to get the best results. The only way you will get this knowledge is to experiment on your own, or when you have time. Perfect a technique and then when a need for it arises, you are ready to go. The more tricks you have in your bag and the faster you can work, the more clients you will get.

Have a look through the portraits section of this site and see if you can spot where this technique is used in other photos. Also if you want photographs of yourself, that look like they are straight out of a magazine, contact Karl and arrange a photoshoot today.

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