These bicycle portraits reflect the shared journey of South Africans

These bicycle portraits reflect the shared journey of South Africans

With their Bicycle Portraits project, Nic Grobler and Stan Engelbrecht are bridging gaps and unifying even the most diverse people.

Beautiful News - Cycling Photography
Supplied, Beautiful News

For two years, Nic Grobler and Stan Engelbrecht embarked on a creative adventure. With their camera equipment, they cycled over 10 000 kilometres across South Africa to explore the country’s bicycle culture. As they met other cyclists along their way, they kept a visual diary of each individual. It grew into the project Bicycle Portraits, a collection of photographs of proud commuters and their stories. Capturing people from disparate backgrounds, the images show what they all have in common – their bicycle.

Grobler was curious as to why there were so few cyclists in a country where the minority owns cars. On a quest to find other individuals on the path less travelled, his efforts with Engelbrecht culminated in three volumes of portraits. Through the project, Grobler and Engelbrecht have reframed the ordinary bicycle as a crucial and empowering mode of transport for many. “For some of the people that we met, we found that they have a strong connection with their bicycle,” Grobler says. “It’s like their prized possession.” The project profiled hundreds of diverse characters, from a gardener who pulls his tools behind his bike in a self-built wagon, to a young girl from a rural area who traverses the long distance to class every day on her two-wheels. 

Bicycle Portraits is unifying individuals from even the most contrasting circumstances, and igniting empathy for people on their journey through life. “The great thing about a bicycle is we no longer feel that we are divided,” Grobler says. “We are basically on the same road, often going in the same direction.”

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