Cyclist magazine & Bernard Hinault


I recently shot Bernard Hinault’s portrait for Cyclist magazine on the eve of the Tour de Yorkshire. Rob Milton, Art Director at Cyclist magazine asked me if I would like to shoot his portrait and I was pretty honoured. As I was doing my research I got to the point where I thought, enough, reading all this coverage might start to pysch me out. I want to go in prepared and knowledgeable to an extent but to maintain a bit of naivity about someone and not have too many prejudged ideas so you can make your own call is a good balance. 

Immediately my friend Gareth, an art director, offered to come on the shoot, which was great and Bernard happily signed a casquette for his son at the end of the shoot.

Our venue was the Cedar Court Hotel, a beautiful hotel in York. The weather was changeable and the sunshine and blue skies shifted to grey & a chill by the time of our portrait shoot so I picked an area with some nice north light in the corner of the main bar, which would give us a gentleman’s club, patronesque type of feel.

I speak French & our first interchange went like this:

‘Je parles francais mais tu parles anglais Bernard?’
‘Pas un mot’
‘Vraiment, pas un mot’

It was funny. He is really quite funny. No need to speak any English despite being a major world ambassador for cycling.

I took the portrait set that was chosen to appear in Cyclist magazine across nine pages in five minutes. Twenty two frames in five minutes.

He was charming, direct and funny. I had learned that he had lost the feeling in two fingers and I wanted a portrait showing this. I asked him which fingers and he told me the main ones, the index. I told him about the photo idea and he flicked me a double bird quickly and laughed. It wasn’t something that felt right to shoot then but it was funny. 

I was really excited to see the Bernard Hinault story on the cover page of Cyclist magazine. I also feel it’s quite unusual to see a pure set of images with no drop ins or archive shots just the portrait session from that day sitting there page after page. Thank you to Rob Milton for another stunning layout. - Gareth Williams/Art Director & Badger body double

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