Flash Blesst is a crazy Harley rider and a passionate photographer. He’s been shooting beautiful images at golden hour in quiet countryside away from the hustle-bustle of urban cityscapes. He mostly shoots his friends in a thoughtful pose when the Sun is setting against them. His outdoor portraits and landscapes are very impressive with bikes and cars in foreground. He gave this detailed interview to PhotoArtMag which will give or readers some tips for shooting and an insight into his art:
Hi! I am Flash Blesst. I was born in 1987 in Udine, Friuli Venezia Giulia, north-east of Italy. I’m graduated in Multimedia Sciences and Technologies and I’ve started to take photographs in 2008, when I bought my first reflex camera. Since all my life I’m an automotive lover, but in 2009 I bought my first real motorcycle and started taking pictures around the local biker scene. Then in May 2011 I started working full time as a photographer and journalist for a national editor who publishes three different magazines: Bikers Life (custom motorcycles), Cruisin’ (american cars) and Kustom World, my favourite one, a real lifestyle magazine where I could express myself in a better way. Since 2014 I’m a freelance professional photographer, but I still mainly work for those magazines.
I’m not exactly what you can call an “enthusiast”. I did not start with film, I don’t collect cameras and I really don’t like to be inside forums or photo-clubs, mainly because I really can’t take people who are more worried about which camera or lenses I own than what I can do with them. Before taking pictures there was writing. I wrote short poems and tales since I was 15 and now writing is still a big part of my job. Just think that in the last three years I’ve published something like ten articles per month. So photography came in 2008 just as a new way to express myself. I’ve always liked taking pictures, that is true, but it was something more connected with freezing memories.
If I have to be totally honest, one of the reasons are memories. I’m not a reporter and I don’t like to go out and take “candid” pictures randomly. In fact, all of my shots are totally posed, but somehow I like to imagine myself looking at those pictures in 30 or more years and remember when I was younger. The main reason anyway is express myself. I need to create, everyday, and photography works really good for that.
I think everything becomes interesting when humans are involved. Yes, I do shoot motorcycles and cars, or maybe landscapes, but the human element always changes everything. It gives sense, even if not recognizable or somehow hidden. A person together with a vehicle or inside a landscape represents something more. So I think I mostly take portraits. Similarly, I have published something like three hundred photo-sets in national (and sometimes international) automotive magazines, with around twenty covers. But I rather try to focus on future goals than on what I achieved so far.
Speaking about gear, I absolutely love open wide prime lenses and if I’m not forced to use something more modern, ALL of my shots are taken with a Super Takumar 50mm f/1.4 mounted on a Canon EOS 5D Mk II, which gives a wonderful vintage feeling, amber tones, an awesome bokeh and essentially it can not be compared to any automatic lens out there. It has some soul and I love it. Editing is fundamental. I can’t even consider to publish a shot without editing it. Maybe it will take just a few adjustments, but most of the time it consists in what I call a “patina” (coating). It is something you absolutely can’t get in camera, so you need Photoshop to do it. If you like it, of course. To edit my shots I use Adobe Photoshop CS5, Camera Raw and nothing else.
Golden hour is the answer. I always shoot when the Sun sets late in the afternoon. Light is soft, it fills the air. The Super Takumar lens then is something incredible with that kind of light because it literally captures tons of light and flares. Oh, I could also shoot at dawn but… well, I’m a sleepyhead. When I have the right light then it’s just a matter of expressing myself through the person I’m portraying. I don’t like my subjects to smile or to show “joy” in my pictures. The mood should always be a bit melancholic, anxious, maybe just… cold. Or indifferent. Yes, indifferent sounds good.
Let’s make it clear: taking photographs is as easy as drinking a glass of water. Anyone can buy a professional camera, go out there and take a photo. Of course you won’t be taking photos as a pro, but nobody can’t stop you to improve or to find someone who pays you for your (low end) work. There’s another main problem: clients. Most of the people out there know absolutely nothing about photography, or graphic design or anything related to imaging. But everybody thinks they have the right to tell you what’s good and what is not. So this is why everybody tries to become a photographer or a DJ or a graphic designer, etc.
Then, of course photography follows a trend. Its in fashion. Everybody takes photographs. I think the only thing that can make difference is what you have to say. What you want to communicate. You can be a mater of technique, but if you don’t have that something inside, you’ll always be just a good teacher. I hope I have that something inside, but it’s not up to me to say that.
I always loved my region. In less than a hour I can get to the sea (South) or to the mountains (North), with a lot of different landscapes in between. Almost all my shots were taken not more than 15 km far from where I live, anyway. I’m a small village boy, I love countryside, open spaces, nature. I’ve never been there yet, but I absolutely love American landscapes, with endless roads and horizons, yellow grass, mountains and that infinite sense of freedom. Most of the time I am trying to reproduce those backgrounds. I like to make you think you are somewhere else, out of time. I hope to visit the American continent as soon as possible.
As I said answering the second question, I’m not a photography enthusiast so I really don’t have photographic “myths”. I love the works of “normal” photographers like Scott Toepfer, Jose Gallina, Kristina Fender, Scott Pommier, David Marvier, Laurent Nivalle, just to name the main ones. Most of my inspirations anyway comes from movies, music and books. My heroes are rock stars, directors and writers. C’mon, you can’t beat Led Zeppelin, Stanley Kubrick or H.P. Lovecraft just taking photographs 😉 All kidding aside, I really love to surf on Tumblr to get my daily inspiration.
Break rules. Don’t belong. Don’t try to label everything. Don’t always try to imitate the same old names. Be yourself, express yourself. Practice a lot. Don’t be afraid to show your work. Critiques can only make you grow up and get better. Technically speaking, gear is useless without imagination. All my pictures are taken with a less-than-150$ lens, so I think it’s better to spend time on something inspiring than spend money on stuff you don’t need at all.