Inspiration: Lifestyle

Photographer Brandon Hinton making a coffee on a mountain

How to get into photography

Brandon Hinton gives his tips

Brandon’s pretty new to the photography scene and has taken some beautiful photographs with a fairly basic camera – incredibly he has already had a 10-page cover shoot in Men’s Health, a testament to his talent. From motorcycles and city scenes to portraits and landscapes from different parts of the world, read on to see his shots, hear his stories and find out how he got into photography.

What’s your background in photography?

Truthfully, I’m a complete newbie at all this. At the start of 2018 I walked into a camera store and bought the cheapest DSLR camera on the shelf with the intent of bettering the content I was putting on my side hobby sports blog. Two months later, while in Rwanda working as a sport scientist with the South African national cycling team, I pulled out my camera and took a couple of shots of the guys while they were racing to pass the time.

It wasn’t until I got back to South Africa that the federation told me they didn’t have the funds to pay for my trip to Rwanda as agreed, so it was up to me to pay off the flights on my maxed-out credit card. So, desperately I decided I’d write a story about my time there and attach a couple of the photos with it.

 

 

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Well, no one liked that idea. It wasn’t until a Hail Mary of an email to Men’s Health that I got my first bite. A month later I had 10 pages in their 50th anniversary edition. From that moment onwards it’s been a blur of life-changing moments, each more surreal than the last, none of which I’ve stopped to question.

What’s your association with motorcycles?

I think my answer to that is like most. My dad rode, so naturally I rode too. But that bug bit real hard and real deep. At 14 I decided I was going to race motorcycles professionally and there wasn’t a thing on this planet that would stop me from doing so. My life became consumed with motorcycles. I spent the morning reading magazines as if they were the Bible and evenings watching DVDs like a TV addict.

The moment I finished school I hopped on a plane and headed to the States to take a jab at the AMA series. The competition was tough, but I loved every second of it. A year later, and a 10:1 expense and winnings ratio, I realised I’d got as far as I ever would and it was time to swallow that dream. I went on to work in the industry for another year as a trainer at a facility in California, where I was fortunate to work with some of the best names in the industry, but I was still sour and so returned home and shunned all two-wheeled things that made noise. It wasn’t until this whole new world of photography opened that I naturally found myself drawn back into it all, but in a whole new light – I wanted to show the fun side of it, the part that everyone and anyone can enjoy.

 

 

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What have been your favourite shoots?

Until recently, almost all of my motorcycle shoots have been spontaneous ones, which naturally have made for the most memorable stories and emotional images. But an all-time favourite would have to be a moment from December that I’ll never forget. On the way to our annual family holiday, we all stopped off in a small town in the middle of nowhere that had a formidable pass called The Hell.

My brother was there and since him and his wife having their first child a few months earlier, we hadn’t had a chance to get out on the bikes – something we grew up doing every weekend. So the evening before we left town we decided to head up the pass, just the two of us. For two whole hours we were completely free, ripping up the notoriously rough gravel. On the way down, I wanted to capture the moment that I knew would never be recreated.

 

 

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So, with my bike’s sticky throttle, I clicked into fourth and took my hands from the bars and leant back to grab a shot of him passing me by as the sun began to disappear behind the mountain range we’d just summited. Being in manual mode with a fixed 35mm lens, I was trying to get my settings just right and somehow capture the motion of the speeds we were going at while peeking through the viewfinder with a helmet and goggles on. Yeah, stupid idea I know. But it gets better.

With it being rainy season, the gravel off camber road was heavily corrugated in sections, as I found out. My bars began to bounce left and right in the biggest speed wobble I’ve ever experienced in my life, giving me a nasty dead leg in the process. Somehow, I avoided dropping my strapless camera and saved the wobble before slamming on the brakes in a stitch of laughter – a moment my brother and I will never forget.

 

 

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What advice would you give to an aspiring photographer?

  • Firstly, never ever get caught up in that consumerist-driven camera stuff. My first published images (Men’s Health) were shot on the cheapest camera and lens box kit you could buy. I didn’t know this at the time but this was one of the most valuable experiences I’d ever gain and hope to never forget.
  • This may run off the above, but learn to work with what you’ve got. I’ve only ever owned one lens at a time and although it has made capturing some concepts hard, it’s also forced me to be creative to get to that initial concept and thus made the end product that much more unique.
  • Shoot your heart out. Literally. Focus in on the things you love most; that will always produce the most emotional, relatable content.
  • Find your style. I spend a lot of time on each image in Lightroom, manipulating it to tell the story I wanted it to when I pushed the shutter release button. Doing so has allowed me to, without my knowledge, develop a unique style. I was scared of this at first but have come to learn its importance when you really want to stand out among the millions.
  • Don’t fall for fads. With Instagram, there’s a new concept being published and viewed by millions per second and it’s really, really hard to quieten that voice whispering, ‘If I shot this way, I would get thousands of likes on my photos’. I always try to picture my grandkids finding a box of my images at the back of my shoe cupboard one day and saying, ‘Hey, gramps was cool’. It’s a hard battle to fight in your head and I don’t believe I’ve won it yet myself, but with the help of many self-pep talks, I do consciously try to stay grounded to the stories and emotions I want my images to tell shoot after shoot.

Read more about photography and take a look at the Triumph Scrambler 1200 shoot all shot on Illford black and white film.

 

 

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