Lifestyle: Profiles

In focus: Photographer Sam Christmas

My favourite three motorcycle pictures

Ever wanted to capture that perfect moment in time when rider, bike and jaw-dropping scenery merge into one unforgettable image etched forever in the memory?

That’s exactly what world famous motorcycle photographer Sam Christmas does for a living. Keep reading to find out his favourite three motorcycle pictures and the stories behind them.

After earning a degree in illustration as he pursued his first love of drawing, he worked as a photographic assistant in southern Spain. His moment of realisation that he had a strong eye for colour, light and composition came after a year as an apprentice there.

He returned to England where he continued as an assistant for a further four years, only becoming a fully fledged photographer in his own right in 2010. Since then his rise to become one of the nation’s leading motorcycle and lifestyle photographers has been nothing short of meteoric.

Recent clients include Barbour, Triumph, Volvo and GQ, and that’s before you get onto the list of his celebrity portraits.

 

You also make mistakes along the way which makes you better. I’m not in the least bit precious and have learned a lot more from doing things wrong.

Sam Christmas

“I assisted some great photographers and saw how they worked in different ways,” said the London-based photographer: “Once you start doing a bit of lighting work you develop your eye. “You also make mistakes along the way which makes you better. I’m not in the least bit precious and have learned a lot more from doing things wrong.”

He knows his bikes and riding lifestyle inside out, despite having a childhood love of motorcycling continually thwarted by parents, lack of money and girlfriends.

He said: “Now I’m in my 30s I can do what I want and have some money for the first time. I love taking pictures of bikes but it’s the pictures of people and bikes together, combined with speed, action, danger and landscapes, that are always the best.”

So of the thousands of shots he’s taken, what are Sam’s favourites?

Picture 1: Natural Habitats

I took this shot as part of a year and a half Natural Habitats project and it was one that proved to be the catalyst for my career. The setting was my mate James Jordan’s bedroom, which contained a mattress, some drawers and his Triumph Bonnie chopper, with all his tools on the floor.

I took it as the custom bike scene was just emerging in London. I was in the right place at the right time, which, to some extent, is what photography is all about.

This picture was the start of a project that would introduce me to a lot of people who I am still good friends with to this day.

Picture 2: Saharan sand

This shot of a rider dropping into an incredible landscape of dunes was a dream come true for me… it’s like being in a giant playpen. Miles and miles of nature and a bike to do whatever you like with.

Anyone who rides a bike and looks at that picture, then does it would think ‘This is it! I am living my dream”.

Picture 3: The Guy’s on fire

I’d been hanging around the start line of the Isle of Man TT trying to get a shot that really captured the intensity and drama of the event, but everyone looked so relaxed as they got ready.

I was giving up hope until everyone drifted away and left Guy Martin on his own. Nothing for minutes, and then as the start time got closer he put his helmet on and went into race mode.

His eyes showed the true life or death nature of what he was about to do. As a photographer you always know when you have got THE shot. I knew this was one.