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Friday, February 20, 2015

Ken Carvajal

Have you ever met someone and instantly knew there was something about that person that just stood out as humble, caring, sincere and screams, "this is a good person!"? That was my thoughts about Ken Carvajal when first meeting him at this past year's Hood Bush. Not only is he a great person but an amazing photographer. Ken has this cinematic touch to his photos that makes you feel like you are in motion but still staring at a still. His first person shots while riding are some of my favorite, it puts you right into the scenery and makes you feel like you are the one riding. I absolutely love his compositions, color choices and his look on the motorcycle culture. Ken is continuing to constantly grow as an artist. I am extremely happy to announce Ken will be showcasing some of his work at Fuel Cleveland on May 9th. Here is a little conversation we had via e-mail. Enjoy!

-Mikey Revolt

Ken Carvajal where do you call home? 

K: I live in the west suburbs, roughly 30 minutes from downtown Chicago. We chose this town for its location to all the areas we used to frequent when my wife and I were just starting out.

Give us some background about yourself. What makes Ken Carvajal and all his awesomeness?

K: Haha! I wouldn’t be here today answering these questions if it wasn’t for my beautiful wife Melissa, who always stands behind my ideas, regardless of how crazy they may be. But I’ve always been into some form of art as a kid. My mom used to take me to art class on Saturday mornings where I learned illustration, sculpting, etc. I was also into music after high-school and produced/DJ’d house music for a number of record labels which gave me an opportunity to travel a little and got to see the UK, Vancouver, and a bunch in the US. I did that for about 10 years or so. I even had a recording studio where I’d record demo for local bands etc. It was a great time. I wish I still had that gear since now my son is into music. (Go figure!) As for photography, I’ve always had a ‘can do’ attitude and when my son was a year old, we used to take him to those mall photography studios. I remember wanting to try it out so I picked up my first DSLR, a Canon Rebel that I used for about 7 years. I didn’t really take it further by getting new lenses until around two years ago when I saw some of Cicero Deguzman’s work. His composition is very unique, and combined with choppers, which to me is an art in itself makes for an even more beautiful image. 

What drives you as a person?

K: I like to get inspired, whether it is from others with similar interests, type or whatever it is I’m working on at the moment. The cool thing about being into the custom culture is there’s so much talent that you get inspiration from every direction. I think it’s why I’m really enamored by it.

What is your favorite thing to photograph?

K: I haven’t really taken it seriously until recently, so right now I would say choppers and candid images of people. I just like the natural element aspect of it all, especially those one-off parts that someone put so much time and effort into to make it into what it is.

Who and/or what inspires you and your photography?

K: Cicero Deguzman. His composition is very unique, and combined with choppers, which to me is an art in itself, makes for an even more beautiful image. Billy Childress’s work is also amazing, Ben the Boog, Matt Aimes and of course, you Mikey. ahaha

How many miles did you put on your bike this year? What kind of bike is it and is she reliable or temperamental?

K: I ride a 1965 Triumph TR6 in a rigid frame, king queen, spool front, and I probably put about 6k+ miles on it last year. We escaped winter and trailered our bikes to New Orleans and rode from there to San Antonio and back. I’ve also ridden it to Pinned, around Lake Michigan, Violation tour, NFLP, etc. For a 50 year old bike, I’d say she’s extremely reliable. Triumphs have a reputation for being temperamental but that hasn’t been my experience. But I usually fix things right away and learned it inside and out even though there have been times when I just want to throw a wrench at it.

Any crazy stories of being broke down or on the road?

K: One that comes to mind was our trip from New Orleans to San Antonio. One morning at the half way point, I was strapping my bags on the bike and while giving her a once over, I noticed a crack on the backbone. My heart just dropped. To make it worse, upon further digging, I found another crack about 12 inches up on the same piece directly under the tank. Being 350 miles from our truck, roughly 300 from our destination and about 1200 miles from home, I really wasn’t sure what to do. Luckily, my friends, Chris Hartman and Panhead John were with me. We called around and found a metal shop 6 miles away. That’s another story in itself but in short, the guys at Babin Machine Works in Beaumont, Texas saved me. They tigged the cracks, even spray painted the newly welded area but wouldn’t take a payment. Luckily, I was able to convince them to at least let me get them a case of beer. But after packing and getting back on the road, not even 5 miles away on I-10, the clamp on my clutch lever snapped. With exhaust clamps and zip ties, I was back on the road headed towards San Antonio. We posted the incident on Instagram and got in touch with Joey Cano who directed me to Stu at SOS Cycles. Called him up the next day, rode to his shop where he had the lever waiting there for me. The rest of the trip went smooth. Looking back, even though I wasn’t sure what the outcome was going to be, it was an amazing experience. 

What's your preference in cameras?

K: I’ve only had experience with cropped sensors but I’m toying with the idea of upgrading to a full frame. I think I need to make that step the way this year is going.

Is there anything big you are currently working on or any projects you want to talk about? 

K: The biggest thing I have lined up currently is the Fuel Cleveland in Ohio. You, Mikey, the most selfless, generous human being invited me to participate in the show to display my photos.

I’m looking forward to working with BadWolf brand on some ad and promo work. They have killer merchandise and have a huge following for being a recent start up clothing company. I’m also looking forward to the 4 Points Cycle show giveaway bike which I have been commissioned to photograph the build progress and the final photoshoot for Lowside magazine. Lastly, I have another bike that will be featured in DicE issue 60 and another in Showclass. Aside from that, I have a few bikes lined up to shoot for Chopcult and wherever else they end up.

What's the craziest thing you have ever done or witnessed?

K: I would say welding a hard tail kit with a 100 amp mig and without a jig on my first bike. I may have soldered before. Haha! That bike is still standing today. I slugged the heck out of it though. I’ve also been called crazy for riding my triumph as much as I have. I guess when it’s your only option to go on a journey with your friends, you have no choice. 

Cheeseburgers or pizza? Ahahha 

K: Both. Pizza in a burger or visa versa sounds terrific!!

Anyone to would like give a shout out to or thank?

K: I really want to thank my beautiful wife and son for allowing me to be me and for being supportive of all my endeavors. I’m really fortunate to have such an amazing family who either cheers me on or smacks me when I’m being crazy. My mom who’s always been there and for also being my cheerleader. My friend, Chris McMorrow (Black Horizons) who is like my big brother even though I’m 6 years older than him. He watches out for me and he is someone I know will always be there as he has proven time and time again. My buddy, Chris Hartman (Violation Tour), the super planner, project manager extraordinaire who is behind all the amazing bike trips I’ve been on. My Lost Cause Engineering homies, Darryl, Cory and Josh who are extremely talented and always keeps me in mind. Matt Aimes who is an amazing photographer and for trusting me with his strobist secrets. Sean Wilkinson who is also a brilliant photographer and for being a teddy bear since day one. Lisa Ballard for giving me the opportunity and an outlet for my photography through Chop Cult.

Last but certainly not the least, I'd like to thank you, Mikey, for seeing my potential, your generosity is surreal. You see me as a peer rather than competition which is a true testament to you as a person. You are definitely one the reasons for my success in photography and why I’m sitting here doing this interview. I am forever in your debt, Mikey. Seriously, from the bottom of my heart…Thank you!

I’d also like to give a shout out to Chop Cult, Badwolf Brand, ChopperProphets, Malvista, Jumpstreet Customs, 4 Points Cycle Show, DicE Magazine, Iron Invasion, Pinned Ohio, Violation Tour, BlackHorizons clothing, Zombie Performance, Rice Paddy Motorcycles, Lost Cause Engineering, Strangle Cycle and Capitol City Tattoo.

Be sure to check out Ken Carvajal's work at Fuel Cleveland on May 9th and for more of his work check his website: www.kencarvajal.com

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