Alex Couture-Beil Explains the Careful Balance of Shooting Street Photography on a Unicycle

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All Photos by Alex Couture-Beil. Used with Permission.

Street photographers should very familiar with that look everyone gives them right after they take stealthy picture of them. There’s a mix of confusion with a tinge of aggression. When Alex Couture-Beil takes a photo of Vancouver denizens from the top of his unicycle there’s rarely a confrontation. Instead people will gaze up to see a man on a unicycle taking with a camera then smile and sometimes even laugh.

Alex says he likes to take street photos from the top of his 29-inch wheel unicycle because it lets him get around a faster. He takes photos for his Unitog Tumblr on the move with his trusty Ricoh GRset to an 1/1000 second shutter speed and rangefinder mode to pull focus quickly.

“Most often I’ll keep the camera slightly hidden in my hands and only reveal it at the last moment and smile back when I take a photo,” Alex says.”Even at 1/1000 I find it can be a challenge to avoid motion blur when I’m close to subjects.”

Hit past the jump to read the full story.

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The idea to start riding around and taking photos at the same time did not come to Alex in a single night. Rather it was a combination of hobbies as Alex started getting into unicycles and back into photography. A few years ago Alex fell back into his love for photography after a brief affair with the art in high school. Alex dove headlong into becoming a shutter bug watching gear reviews and video related to street photography.

Eventually Alex took his amateur photography skills on the road during a Critical Mass (an even where bikes take to the streets to celebrate cycling) night in Vancouver. While riding amongst friends and fellow unicyclists Alex took out his phone to take a few photos simply to share them with friends. Soon after Alex decided to take more photo rides on his unicycle.

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“I first started out with an old canon point and shoot with a homemade neck strap along with the firmware hack CHDK which allowed me to ensure a high shutter speed,” Alex expounded. “[After a month] I started to notice the interesting looks that I was receiving while unicycling and thought hmm, maybe I could turn this into something.”

Soon enough Alex’s photo rides became a photo series that’s sometimes captures funny, adorably awkward moments, but always-beautiful images. To see more of Alex’s work be sure to visit and follow his Unitog Tumblr.

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Kevin Lee

Kevin Lee is a freelance journalist and photographer based in Brooklyn.