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Friday, April 15, 2016

Dan Sammons

In this world we find ourselves longing to feel alive, we look at any and all outlets in which to escape from reality and put ourselves into someone else's shoes. Dan Sammons has this natural ability to suck you into his photos and really bring you right into the moment he has captured. I've grown to be a huge fan of Dan over the past few years, watching his work on the social media worlds explode. Him and his friend, Damian, who make up an outfit called "Johnny Bones" push the limits of motorcycle adventuring on sportsters and capture some unreal moments that make me wish I was in Utah riding right along side and enjoying the chaos. The passion pours out of each of his photos and I couldn't have been more excited when he told me he would be a part of Fuel Cleveland this year. I sat down and asked him a handful of questions and this is what came of it, enjoy.

- Mikey Revolt

Dan Sammons, where is home for you?

D: I was born and raised in Lake Tahoe, NV. Lived there until I was 25 when I moved to Salt Lake City for work.

Share with us a little about your history of taking photos and your role with Johnny Bones.

D: I started taking photos 6-7 years ago. I grew up working in the ski/snowboard industry, primarily with a clothing brand. My work with them led me to learn many different trades. I spent a lot of time with the in-house photographer shooting all the branding content so naturally I started picking up a camera myself. I ended up leaving that company in 2014 and decided to take the photography skills I'd learned, freelance. I then started Johnny Bones with my buddy Damian. My role there was to basically document our lifestyle with a camera.

Can you talk about Johnny Bones and what it is, what are the ideas behind it etc...?

D: Johnny Bones was an actual person, it's not Damian as his Instagram handle has led people to believe. Johnny Bones was our best friend growing up through high school. Unfortunately he died from diabetes at the age of 19. Since then he's always been the biggest inspiration to the way we live, so when we decided to try and brand ourselves we knew we had to use his name. Plus his name is pretty badass, haha. Johnny Bones started based on Damian ripping bikes and me shooting photos. It was more or less just a way for us to express ourselves creatively in the beginning. We're just two broke ass kids trying to do something cool. We've always wanted to make our own clothes, not for anyones else necessarily, just for us. But people seem to get behind what we're about so we decided to run a full line of graphics and start a website. Still, it's just a place for us to share our passions and have a creative outlet. Although money is pretty cool, it's not all it's about. At the end of the day we just want to make cool shit with our friends, ride bikes and have fun.

What was the first camera you ever got hands on?

D: First camera was a Canon 7D. My old job had a few of them I started messing around with. Once I realized I liked photography I bought an old Nikon Fm camera and shot nothing but film for about a year.

Are you a Canon or Nikon guy, or something else completely?
D: I definitely prefer Canon over Nikon. It might just be a familiarity thing at this point but I work closely with Canon now and I just like the way their stuff handles. Other than that, I really dig the mirrorless stuff Sony has been coming out with. I have a little Sony a6000 I shoot with a lot when I'm shooting bikes. It's small and I can take it anywhere, it's a powerful little workhorse. I've beat the shit out of it and it continues to take great photos. Plus I like the reaction I get from other photographers when I show up to shoot with it. People can't believe I produce some of the stuff I do with it.

Where are some of your favorite places to shoot photos?
D: I really dig the desert, I like being in the middle of nowhere, as anybody that rides motorcycles would. If not the desert it's gotta be some grungy city location or something industrial.

Do you feel you have found your style yet or is everyday a challenge to find what you want to portray?
D: I feel like I'm always evolving. I get bored quick and I think change is good. I'll always stay semi true to my black and white, contrasty roots but I like to mix it up and try new things. I like my photos to feel more natural and unforced. My photo style is based around putting myself in a situation, letting people do what they do and trying to capture the moment organically.

What kind of bike do you own and what bike do you have your heart set on?
D: Unfortunately, the broke photographer lifestyle has forced me to sell most of my bikes. Giving up one passion for another kinda thing. But currently I have a 01 Sportster and 1987 XL600. The XL was my first bike and my Dad gave it to me so it will always be my go to. I'm trying to buy a FXR or a Dyna now. I just want something I can get on and ride 1000 miles and feel solid.

Do you ride and shoot, or what other method do you use to get your moving shots?
D: I prefer to ride and shoot, it feels more natural. But a lot of times I shoot from the back of my truck. It all depends on the situation.

Damian (other half of Johnny Bones) does some pretty crazy stuff on his bike in some interesting places, do you and him work together on a lot of ideas for riding spots and situations?
D: Almost everything we produce is a collaborative effort. That's where the whole Johnny Bones thing comes from. We're pretty much brothers, we share everything (including women)(jk, lol.)(but seriously). I've known him since he was 14 and since day 1 we've always felt like together we can make something rad. We work best together, so when it comes to shooting photos we always make the best shit when we're both in on it.

Where would be your dream location to shoot or ride?

D: I want to ride through Europe and shoot the whole thing. I'm hoping within the next year I can make that happen. Sooner I plan on doing Highway 1 down the whole West Coast. I'll always be a West Coast kid and being on the 1 just makes me feel at home.

What got you in to motorcycles and wanting to capture it’s lifestyle?
D: My Dad rode bikes my whole life and he was always working on something. I was born a grease ball and always will be so naturally when I got older it just made sense to go this direction. I simply take photos of my surroundings and it just so happens that this was it. I don't shoot weddings or senior photos, I shoot bikes and the people that surround the industry because those are my people.

Who or what inspires you and your work?
D: My friends and the women I fall for. All the people that support my work. The whole Instagram community. I'm inspired every time I look at my phone and I've met and collaborated with some of the most amazing people through Instagram.

What is your all-time favorite story or memory from a photo shoot?
D: Probably the recent video lookbook shoot for Johnny Bones we did in collaboration with our friends at Ori Media and Canon USA. We drove down to a place called Mystic Hot Springs about 2 hours south of Salt Lake and shot this entire video in one day. Not the most exciting story, really. We just shot a lot of video/photo, drank a lot of whiskey and managed to create one of the most beautiful things I've ever been a part of. If your interested, go check it out. JOHNNYBONES.CO

Any life mottos or codes you live by?
D: Get rich or drunk trying.  Stay true.

Are you ice cream in a bowl or ice cream in a cone kind of guy? What's your all-time favorite flavor?
D: McDonald's ice cream cone on the road. The cone is the best part.

Anyone you would like to thank or give a shout-out to?
D: Everyone I look up to in the photo/video world for teaching me everything I know.
Most importantly:
Micheal Ori
Joey Jonaitis
Landis Tanaka
Jordan Harper
Steven Stone

How can people find you and your work?
D: Instagram- @dan_sammons - slide into my DMs
Website- johnnybones.co - buy our shit
Email- dan@johnnybones.co - lets work together!

Be sure to see more of Dan Sammons' photography on display at Fuel Cleveland on May 28th at Ray's MTB.

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