I have long had a fascination with what's known as the "highwheel" bicycle, a novelty from a bygone era. My first encounter with one of these magnificent bicycles was at a young age in the town of Minocqua, Wisconsin, where a local sports shop had one displayed in its front window. Last summer, 20 years later, I photographed that bicycle coming across an 1800s train trestle. After making the image, I got the bug to photograph more of these highwheels.
Creative ResearchAs I began scouring the Internet, soaking up as much information as possible on highwheel bikes, I discovered just how rare they are. I even began to look at websites such as eBay.com to purchase bikes on my own. Not a single highwheel was to be found.
I made the decision to create "cabinet card"-style portraits of my subjects to match the period mood of the subject. I studied a few hundred cabinet cards featuring bicycle riders to help mold a cohesive idea and style.
Coming up with intriguing backgrounds was going to be incredibly tough, but with the help of Marc Hauser of Tamara Backdrops in Chicago, I got my hands on authentic period-correct backgrounds, some of which exceeded 120 years of age. I knew moving these delicate backdrops had the potential to damage them, so I decided to photograph them separately from my subjects.