TPX19: Kristof Ramon – Breaking Through to Become a Pro Cycling Photographer

Kristof Ramon of is a pro-cycling photographer who covers some of the worlds biggest and most prestigious races including the Tour de France, the Giro d Italia, the Tour of Flanders and Paris Roubaix.

Kristof was born and raised in Belgium and attended film school at the age of 19. It was here that he discovered photography. He eventually followed his passion for cycling and photography and started photographing the sport.

It's difficult to define Kristof as a sports photographer. His photography captures so much more than the action.

He says the riders are always his main focus… and that comes through when you see his portfolio which features close ups portraits of racers caked in sweat, mud, dust, snow and grime.

You’re not going to catch all those little moments and it’s exactly those little moments that set you apart or that makes it unique and what makes it absolutely worth for me are those little moments – Kristof Ramon

Here’s some of what we cover:

  • How Kristof defines himself as a photographer
  • How Kristof started his career in cycling photography by photographing the lesser known riders
  • What a normal cycling event is like for Kristof
  • What to expect at cycling events and how to prepare when photographing the different styles of races
  • Getting paid as a sports photographer in cycling
  • How Kristof keeps his focus on what to prioritise when photographing racing events
  • Techniques on how to capture race photos in Kristof's style
  • The disadvantages of chasing cyclists during a race
  • Utilising an agent to manage photography work
  • What will you be required to deliver when commissioned to photograph cycling events?
  • Magazines and other publications look for that unique viewpoint in cycling photos
  • How to capture unique photos that make you stand out during sporting events
  • How soon can people access Kristof’s race photos after a race
  • What restrictions does Kristof place on the use of his photos?
  • What kind of photos do magazines and other publications choose from Kristof’s work?
  • Getting paid or getting published – what takes priority?
  • What Kristof does when his photo lands on magazine covers
  • Hosting an exhibition of your photography work
  • Why Kristof doesn’t work for other agencies
  • Is Kristof willing to take on another photographer to cover races he can’t attend?
  • How Kristof came to shift his career from music to cycling photography
  • How to get lucky when photographing the famous personalities in cycling
  • How Kristof started to get noticed as a cycling photographer
  • What made Kristof’s photos stand out and get shared by so many people?
  • Who discovered Kristof's work first?
  • Why Kristof won’t use the photography style that got him noticed anymore
  • Amateur photographers are not critical enough of their own work
  • Kristof’s thought process when shooting in black and white or colour
  • Cultural influences and how it affects a photographer’s style
  • Does Kristof have the freedom to shoot what he wants to shoot during a race?
  • Social media and using it to get your style out there and noticed
  • People will hire you based on what you do, not by how adaptable you are as a photographer
  • Is it necessary to bring your camera with you all the time when at a race?
  • The need to always ask permission before taking photos of cyclists
  • How to gain the trust of your clients during cycling events
  • How to handle publications who use your work without your consent
  • How to price your photos when sending a bill for non-consent publications
  • Kristof’s workflow when photographing cycling events
  • How much does Kristof shoot during an event?
  • Why you need to rename and caption your photos using the best applicable keywords possible
Kristof Ramon Photography Podcast

Marcel Kittel (DEU/Etixx-Quickstep) congratulates teammate Tom Boonen (BEL/Etixx-Quickstep) with his win
Brussels Cycling Classic 2016

What is your big takeaway?

Following this interview, I’d love to read your feedback and comments. Was there something from this interview that struck a chord, inspired or motivated you?

Will you take any kind of action after hearing what Kristof had to share?

The thing is you evolve. When you begin something and you learn a trick or a technique and you try it out, you always tend to overdo it. But in later photography, it’s like those little tricks you try to implement them more subtly and that’s when it becomes interesting because I needed those to go really overboard to be able later on to make that trick more subtle and maybe not noticeable or not as noticeable as the trickery it is, and that’s technique – Kristof Ramon

Let me know by leaving your thoughts in the comments below.

If you have any questions that I missed, a specific question you’d like to ask Kristof or if you just want to say thanks for coming on the show, feel free to add them below too.

Kristof Ramon Photography Podcast

A Tinkoff rider couldn't resist getting a feel of the snow up the misty Colle dell'Agnello (2744m)
stage 19: Pinerolo(IT) – Risoul(FR) 162km
99th Giro d'Italia 2016

Your own voice is much much much more important than being a tool for whatever art director or somebody who is not into photography and telling you how to do it is completely wrong – Kristof Ramon

Kristof Ramon Photography Podcast

New (and old) CX World Champion Wout Van Aert (BEL/Crelan-Willems) after finishing
Men's Elite Race
UCI 2017 Cyclocross World Championships
january 2017, Bieles/Luxemburg

I’m a sports photographer in that I focus on one sport and it’s simply the one sport I really like and the one sport I’m passionate about, which is cycling – Kristof Ramon

Kristof Ramon Photography Podcast

Sep Vanmarcke (BEL/LottoNL-Jumbo)
Post-Tour Criterium Mechelen (Belgium) 2016

The difficulty is that I don’t want to put a style on anybody. And I think I have a style or a specific point of view and an experience, and I can only bring that experience to that person and hope that he develops a style all by him/herself – Kristof Ramon

Kristof Ramon Photography Podcast

The Espresso Mafia coffee bar is another enterprise (like La Fabrica) owned by former professional cyclist Christian Meier and his wife, Amber Meier.

I want in the future to have a more classical look that can hold the test of time. So that’s when you get away from effect or heavy effect and be very much more interested and that’s where I am now is storytelling – what makes a picture – Kristof Ramon

Kristof Ramon Photography Podcast

black melted ice mud festival
Azencross Loenhout 2014

As a photographer, you develop a style simply by your cultural reference – Kristof Ramon

Kristof Ramon Photography Podcast

Stephen Hyde's (USA/Cannondale) post-race mudface
Elite Men's Race
UCI 2017 Cyclocross World Championships
january 2017, Bieles/Luxemburg

I think the biggest, absolute biggest mistake you can make is to let yourself be told how to shoot – Kristof Ramon

Links to people, places and things mentioned in this episode:

Kristof Ramon Website

Kristof Ramon on Instagram

Kristof Ramon on Twitter

Bahamontes Magazine

Soigneur Magazine

Rouleur Magazine


Kristof Ramon Photography Podcast

Wout Van Aert (BEL) during course recon & training in the snow
2015 UCI World Championships Cyclocross
Tabor, Czech Republic

Thank you!

Thanks again for listening to the show and thanks to Kristof for coming on and experimenting with a new and different format for this photography podcast and for sharing his thoughts, views and ideas.

Shoot how you want and need and feel to shoot. People pick up on that. If people come to you  and tell you how specifically to shoot, then that’s the wrong client for you. Or you’re doing it wrong because if you give in to that, you’ve lost – Kristof Ramon

Also, a big thanks to the Laura Babb and the people behind the SNAP Photography Festival  for sponsoring this episode of the podcast and making the show possible.

Use the promo code SNAP100 to save $100 British pounds (roughly AUD$170 and USD$125) on your Snap Tickets.

SNAP will take place on a farm in West Wales, UK on the 24th – 28th July 2017 and will be attended by photographers from all over the world.

It's largely aimed at wedding and lifestyle photographers but they will have speakers from across all sectors of the photography industry, including photojournalists, fashion photographers, landscape photographers and academics.

SNAP organisers are focussed on learning outcomes, rather than just throwing together a line up of big names.  They aim for a well balanced, diverse programme.

I've heard the closing parties are epic and there are always a few surprises along the way.  At last years event, two festival attendees got married!

As well as the learning and speakers, there will be activities like wild swimming, beach trips and camp fire hangouts.  SNAP is a chance to recharge your batteries before wedding season starts.

To young photographers or aspiring photographers, specifically, find your voice and let it be heard – Kristof Ramon

If you have any suggestions, comments or questions about this episode, please be sure to leave them below in the comment section of this post, and if you liked the episode, please share it using the social media buttons you see at the bottom of the post!

That’s it for me, hope everything is going well for you in life and photography!

Thanks and speak soon


By | 2017-04-04T17:53:14+00:00 April 2nd, 2017|Xperiments|0 Comments