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Friday, March 13, 2015

Matthew Aims

If you don't know who Matthew Aims is, you might want to do some research and or use that google toolbar that sits on your phone's home screen and look him up! A New Jersey good fella that I have had the pleasure of meeting a few times while out on the East Coast. His photos are absolutely insane, breath taking, and he is changing the game when it comes to motorcycle photography. With such a beautiful and technical skill behind the lens it's so unbelievable looking into his photos. I get lost a lot of the time and I really don't feel like coming back to the real world. The lighting, the aperture, the stylization, and the cinematic feel to his work is like no other. Don't take my word for it see for your self. 2014 was a big year for Matthew being in countless magazines and exploding into the motorcycle world. I am so excited to announce Matthew is making the trip out to Fuel Cleveland on May 9th to showcase some of his work! Here is an interview I did with him the other day. Enjoy! 

-Mikey Revolt

Matthew Aims, where do you call home?

M: I currently reside in central New Jersey, but does anyone really know where "home" is?

Your light game is out of this world, are these techniques of trial and error or learned over time? 

M: Thank you. In the beginning it was just that, trial and error. I had one flash and I barely knew what to do with it, none the less how to tune it in with all manual settings using it off-camera. It began a slight obsession with learning everything I could find on OCF. I started to wrap my head around it and things just started clicking. I even went as far as studying the physics of how light travels. Now it's just learning what works and what doesn't by pushing things as far as I can. I occasionally work with balancing 5 or more lights in some complex scenarios, paying close attention to shadows mostly, and shaping highlights in the most pleasant way I can and treat motorcycles as if I were photographing a beer ad. Even when shooting natural light or available light, I use the light's direction to paint the picture the best I can.

What are some of your favorite things about photography? 

M: The balance of ease and difficulty it brings me mentally. I'm a very mechanical person, so shutter speed, ISO, and aperture come easy to me, but the creative aspect pushes back. Finding the right locations, models, getting things organized... most "shoots" have some degree of crunch or stress involved, but I enjoy turning chicken shit into a chicken sandwich in tough conditions. It's very rewarding.

What kind of bike do you currently have and or are building?

M: I currently have a '70 Harley XLCH. She's my only at the moment and is constantly evolving.

Who and/or what is a inspiring to you and your work as a photographer? 

M: Damn man, that's a tough one. I have so much I can say here. The "who" can be a long list! When I got into photography, I was highly inspired by portrait photographers Zack Arias, Sam Hurd, and Ryan Brenizer. I love a lot of work from older masters like Richard Avedon of course. I pull a lot of inspiration from those guys. They are just a few, but all are portrait photographers. I pull a lot of my inspiration and techniques I utilize in shooting bikes, from portrait lighting.

What is the most challenging thing for you as a photographer?

M: "Evol-fucking-lution." Man, that is the shit I struggle with every time I look at a set of photos I shot. "What do I do with these!?" And I don't just mean it in editing, in shooting as well. I'm always looking for ways to improve my lighting and my compositions, that's a given. Personal style comes a lot from post production. I wrestled with developing my own style for a long time. I wanted something classic, popular, and uniquely mine. That's a tough combo, but I think I eventually developed something that meets all three of those. Now I need to find ways to tweak it and let it grow and not pigeon hole myself as "that one guy that does that one thing" forever.

Any funny or crazy stories from traveling, events or past photo shoots you would like to share? 

M: Stories like after shooting a model all night,the next day you're so exhausted you slip into a Pop-eyes fried chicken induced coma in the window and sleep through a few famous, naked models running around in your 5-star Hollywood hotel room and you literally can't be bothered enough to open your eyes for more than 10 minutes to take that in? Nah, I have no stories like that... I suck.

Where is your favorite place to ride your bike to and/or do you have a place of serenity?

M: I have always enjoyed city riding. Brooklyn, Philly... I really enjoy riding to Asbury and Belmar beach by me and getting hassled by the local PD for doing wheelies from stop signs there. I find riding down in VA by my mother's home really peaceful. I'm really looking forward to doing some riding out west this year. I have a feeling it will be like meditation.

As an artist, has it always been through the lens of a camera or have you dabbled in other mediums? 

M: My whole life I have been an illustrator. Mostly with pencil, with a hyper-realistic style. I also worked in the tattoo industry for a while. I ended up burning myself out on it and haven't really drawn much since. 

Any interesting cool habits, collectables, or hobbies other then motorcycles and photos? 

M: You mean there is other stuff to do!? Does beer drinking and pizza eating count? I'm a world champion karaoke singer. I guess I collect tattoos, but I don't call myself a "tattoo collector." In fact, I don't even want to talk about them. Tattoos are pretty lame now.

If there was one bike in the world you could own, what would it be?

M: One!? Is this a trick question? No? Alright....I have always had a panhead fetish. Most likely it would be a long bike, probably 12" over wishbone or Ness springer, fully moulded, 5 spoke round invaders front and rear.

Do you have the winter times blues as much as I do right now or is it just me?

M: Not so much. I have no problem riding in the winter. I used to commute 40 minutes each way to and from work on my XL. Even in the winter. I would even take the long way home. I spend a lot of time building in the winter, what kills me is just having a bike off the road.

Whats the most chaotic thing you have ever done?

M: I sold ALL my shit once to move out of the country with the exception of my bike. I was heading to Chile. Said bye to all my friends and family. The plans fell through due to something that was out of my power. I would have done it. Ohhh and I let 3 strangers I had never formally met, kidnap me and take me with them to Connecticut, is another that stands out.

Have you ever been to Cleveland before?

M: Can't say that I have, only passed through. But Drew Carey really made it seem like a rockin' place. You guys like to drink there, right?

Do you have any code or motto you follow life by?

M: Live to ride and ride to live, but only on Sunday, and in fair weather. All kidding aside. Sign your work with excellence.

Your photos are always so beautiful and have a large array of colors, what programs do you use to edit, or is it mostly the lighting you use?

M: 120% the lighting. That's the mighty power of off-camera-flash. Funny you mention it, people comment on my colors a lot. I don't usually talk about my post production work. I actually desaturate ALL my photos 17-21% in LightRoom. I flatten out the blacks which is a popular look right now 6-13% depending on the image with the RGB curves. I also use split-toning a lot to give my photos a cinema graphic feel, but the exact colors, balance and percentage of saturation I use is a secret to my style. I never increase saturation, clarity, or contrast in my strobist work.

Any big projects you are working on, or future things you wanted to share?

M: No big photography projects as of the moment. I am one of the 25 builders for Show Class Magazine's People's Champ 3 build off for Born Free 7 this year. I am just documenting my build completely in black and white until the bike is finished. That and shooting a lot of naked women to make ends meet.

Childhood favorite characters: Transformers? Ninja Turtles? Or something completely different?

M: I must have been a really dull kid. Was never into any characters growing up. I was really into riding BMX and skating as a lot of us have our roots in that. So yeah, Dennis McCoy, Mat Hoffman, Dave Mirra were like my heroes as a kid. I fucking love Spongebob Squarepants now though. Roger Smith from American Dad is pretty heroic in my eyes.

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

M: Well first off, you Mikey! You have brought a lot of positive attention to my work this year and I have to say I wouldn't be where I am at now without your support! Lisa at Chop Cult as well! Each and every single one of my fans on social media, you guys and gals rock and have kept me motivated as well as have found me work that has kept food in my stomach. My close friend's who have kept me going in times where I have literally felt like hanging up the camera, some threatening violence upon me if I did. My family has also been very supportive of this career path, even if I buy bread by photographing scantily clad women mostly. My homie, Buddy Miller, that has been letting me use his facilities to build my bike in trade for slave labor. I hope I didn't forget anyone, there are just so many to thank.

Any stories or interesting facts you would love to share? 

M: If you spot me out at a show, event, bike run, or even at the bar, come say hey!

Be sure to check out Matthew's work not only at Fuel Cleveland but at his website: www.mjaims.com

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