Shanghai Sidecar Riders

Aurélien Chauvaud Rode around with Sidecar Bikers to Find their Perfect Background Location

‘Everything is surprising and different in China,’ France-based photographer, Aurélien Chauvaud, told us of his experience working on the photographic series, Shanghai Sidecar Riders.

Borne from a chance meeting, as Aurélien tried to escape Shanghai’s piercing heat to the cooler city of Hong Kong, Shanghai Sidecar Riders offers an alternative way of looking at the city and its inhabitants.

In two one-month long trips around the to the city, Aurélien had to tackle challenges such as the unavoidable language barrier, and also understanding the unfamiliar protocols of certain locations, trying not to break any rules.

‘Once I was shooting on a bridge and actually ended up being in a local newspaper,’ Aurélien remembered. ‘They reported that I was disturbing traffic even though cars weren’t allowed to pass there!’

We asked him more about his work and adventures with the sidecar riders.

The Plus: Did you learn anything new about sidecar riders in Shanghai that surprised you?
Aurélien Chauvaud:
There is a law, which states that you have to own a specific number plate, issued at a certain point, to be able to drive inside Shanghai. The problem is that you cannot get a new number plate for them; they’ve stopped providing them for Shanghai. So there is an underground business where people buy old plates from one another so that they can drive in the city.

TP: How did you go about finding locations to shoot in Shanghai?
I toured for a long time with each protagonist in order to find a place, which I thought suited them.

TP: What were your most memorable locations?
The most challenging ones! On one specific image where there is a Mao statue in the background, I had to stand up in between 2 four-way carriageways, which was quite intense!
Each image retains a story for the location which I like reliving.