Among the 24 million residents of Shanghai, there are only 250 registered sidecar riders. Drawn to the story behind the iconic sidecars, many of which are re-customed wartime motorbikes, photographer Aurelien Chauvaud set out to capture as many riders as he could find. The series is simply titled Shanghai Sidecar Riders. The resulting portraits, set on a backdrop of the city’s stunning landscapes, are as individual as the riders themselves.
Chauvaud hadn’t intended to photograph a series while visiting Shanghai, but when he was introduced to a sidecar enthusiast, he couldn’t pass up the opportunity. It was through his friends extensive network of sidecar riders that he found his subjects. Chauvaud was careful in selecting a landscape that was representative of the riders style and aesthetic. Each time he met with a new subject, together they would tour the city for about an hour in order to find the perfect spot.
“I wanted to take images in Shanghai but I had the feeling that everyone had already shot China on every possible angle. These sidecar riders made an interesting angle to allow me to take pictures in Shanghai which I felt hadn’t been seen yet,” he says of the project.
For Chauvaud, the images are an interrogation of how Chinese society has evolved. The sidecar riders open up the possibility to differentiate themselves from the ‘uniform system’ of the past.
All images © Aurelien Chauvaud