While perusing Flickr for photos to accompany another story, I found this neat set of photos of cyclists at UCLA taken a recent graduate, Wei Shi ’09, for a visual anthropology class that I would like to share here. Entitled “Students & Bikes”, the set comprises of photos featuring 10 random student bicycle commuters at UCLA.
Wei told me that she decided to do a project on cyclists at UCLA because she found the diversity amongst cyclists to be interesting. “Some are serious lifestyle bike riders that spend lots of money on tricked out fixed gear bikes while others simply ride as a means to get to school quickly,” she said.
In the paper that accompanied the photo project, Wei emphasized that the photos were captured during chance encounters with strangers. This was easier than it seems: Wei explained that she was cautious not to allow for photographer’s interference because there is the “somewhat socially awkward” element of making a request to take someone’s photograph, especially when you’re trying to capture an accurate representation of UCLA bike riding demographic.
Wei also said that the major prevailing theme in the photographs is self awareness. Some (many) of the subjects are very conscious that their photo will be judged and critiqued by somebody they don’t know. To this end, Wei noted, some of the men stood straight and displayed their bikes proudly. The women, on the other hand, looked straightforward and nonchalant.