By Anthony van Someren - 22 Nov 12
You'll already have seen Sam Christmas's photos, whether it's this snap for a Davida ad, or cool reportage of the Kingdom of Kicks crew, events like Sideburn's Dirt Quake or any number of blogs, websites and magazines, but you may also have seen other pics for major campaigns, or portraits of people like Benicio Del Toro, Natasha Khan - better known as Bat for Lashes - or Vigo Mortensen. In other words, Sam is pretty good, and what is great news for all of us, is that while the commercial work pays the rent, it's passion that drives Sam to take pics for the likes of us... So, let's enjoy a few of his snaps, and hear from the man himself why he spends his spare time in our greasy world of shops, sheds and tarmac-topped open spaces... A couple of years ago I was in the early stages of a reasonably successful career as a portrait and advertising photographer. I enjoyed my work, but it wasn't until I finally got my bike license and was introduced to the custom bike scene in London, that I found a subject I had a passion for. I love everything about it - the unique bikes, the rare characters that build and ride them, and the realisation that for a few hundred quid and a bit of imagination you can be riding the most exciting, sexiest, badass vehicle on the road. As a portrait photographer I'm as interested in photographing the owners as much as their bikes, but with customisation the bikes end up with their own personality which in some sense reflects the owner themselves. My interest in this relationship between the two has led to a series of portraits that I'm still working on (and you can see some examples here) and which will hopefully be a good insight into a healthy and growing custom bike scene in the UK by the time I'm done. (Watch this space for exhibition details). I've got plenty to learn about riding bikes, and almost everything to learn about building them, but I have started a project with a '77 GS750. It was a non runner when I picked it up but it was very clean and shiny so I thought what could go wrong? So obviously now it's sat under a tarp, in a pool of oil. So far I've just sorted out the jetting, stripped a load of stuff off, made a seat and established the engines pretty knackered but when she runs, the 4 in 1 pipe has a real nice throaty growl and thanks to its low centre of gravity it handles great through London traffic and is really easy to shoot from when I need both hands on my camera. By next Spring I plan to have it on the road, running sweet and looking good. In the meantime I'm on my beaten up Triumph S4, which I love because it's fast and because it works. And for a stock bike at least, its pretty rowdy. It's clear from speaking with Sam that he's infected by the same bug as the rest of us - and it's interesting just how many people there are from the creative industries who are into the cafe/brat custom scene. I guess it's the mix of aesthetics, engines and the thrill of the ride - and then of course there's the very cool people. We all talk about that. A lot.