UPDATED November 24, 2023

BY Guest Author

IN Golden Buddha Ride

1 comment

UPDATED November 24, 2023

BY Guest Author

IN Golden Buddha Ride

1 comment

Capturing The Chaos: Photographing From A Scooter On The Golden Buddha Ride


Coby Werlin is the Content Creator on the 2023 Golden Buddha Ride. In this report, he relates what it is like to document the tour from the seat of a scooter.

My ride

Over the past few years, I have had the incredible opportunity to document the vibrant experiences of six TDA tours, each offering unique options for capturing moments on the road. From the comfort of a van, the flexibility of an E-bike, the simplicity of a pedal bike, or the heights of a drone, each journey unfolded new photographic possibilities for telling the cycling story. Joining the Golden Buddha Ride in Southeast Asia has introduced a new perspective – photographing from the back of a scooter.

Our tour leader, Andreas, who is an experienced motorcyclist in both the Eastern and Western worlds, opted for a scooter as a ‘flex’ vehicle in Vietnam. Ideal for navigating the intricate routes, checking on riders, shopping for fresh produce, or quickly reaching the next hotel, the scooter has already proven to be incredibly useful over the initial 2 weeks of the tour.

Andreas shopping

So, in a country like Vietnam, where it is a common sight to see a family of 4 riding together aboard 1 motorized scooter, it felt only fitting to accompany Andreas, camera in hand, to explore the visual narrative that the scooter ride could offer.

With Andreas steering through the bustling streets, I found myself in a unique position – free to observe and capture the dynamic scenes unfolding around me. The cities pulse with organized chaos: a mix of traffic jams, eccentric alleyways, and a sea of people crowding the streets. Even the rural villages are teeming with life, from the busy morning markets to the children coming and going from school. While it may be a commuter’s nightmare, for a street/cycle photographer, it’s a dream come true – an opportunity to capture candid portraits amidst the lively surroundings.

At times, it’s a smooth and easy ride. I’m not exerting much physical energy, however, photographing from a scooter at speeds ranging from 30km/h in the cities to 80km/h in the country presents a challenge that requires constant mental agility. The need to quickly identify a potential shot, compose it in a fraction of a second, adjust camera settings, and capture the moment is both exhilarating and demanding. Every red light becomes an opportunity to connect with fellow scooter commuters, sharing mutual intrigue as we wait for the light to change.

In the midst of the chaos, there isn’t much time for reviewing photos while on the move, as I’m often prioritizing being present and vigilant. More often than not, images turn out blurry, distorted, or capturing less-than-flattering expressions. But this is the nature of digital sports photography – taking hundreds of photos daily with the hope that a few gems will emerge. The journey is marked by countless rejects, but every now and then, a golden photo emerges, making the entire chaotic process worthwhile.

Bad photo/Good photo

Photographing from the scooter on The Golden Buddha Ride offers a unique blend of challenge and reward. The high-speed, ever-changing environment demands quick thinking and adaptability, resulting in a mix of imperfect yet authentic images. It’s a testament to the unpredictable nuances of Southeast Asia and the beauty hidden in the midst of organized chaos. It’s also just a heck of a lot of fun!


Golden Buddha Ride

Join us on our cycling quest for the fabled Golden Buddha. Our journey begins in the bustling modern city of Saigon and continues up the country's...


1 Comment for "Capturing The Chaos: Photographing From A Scooter On The Golden Buddha Ride"

Brilliant – and Andreus is the ultimate collaborator.

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