Classic Motorcycles Photography Project
Todd McLellan is a Toronto-based still and motion photographer who spends most of his time doing commercial photography work for the likes of Subaru, BMW, Volkswagen, and Hyundai. Now and then he has some time for some personal projects. We loved his Classic Motorcycles project, so we called him up to find out more about it and about him. Click here to see more of Todd’s work.
Q: How did you get started in photography?
A: I’m from Saskatchewan and went to school for graphic design in Calgary at Alberta’s College of Art and Design. That was the original idea, at least. I learned that I couldn’t stand graphic design, because I didn’t like sitting beside a desk all day long. At the time, I was taking an elective photography class, because it was something I was interested in for fun. I’d never really thought of it as a profession before, but the class opened my eyes that you could make money doing it. That’s when I fell in love with photography and switched to a photography major.
I was always interested in photography—my dad was an amateur photographer, and so I grew up using my own little camera. Cameras have always kind of been in my life.
After graduation I moved to Toronto in 2002 for my career, and since then I’ve ventured into a lot of motion photography as well. Lately I’ve been doing a lot of commercial work.
Q: Tell us a bit about your Classic Motorcycles photography project:
A: Toronto-based painter William Fisk was looking for a photographer to take photos of some motorcycles so he could then paint them photo-realistically in a larger-than-life scale. We connected, and I worked with him on the project, where we became friends. I photographed the motorcycles, and William Fisk used my photographs as references for his paintings. We worked on shooting the motorcycles over the span of four or five weekends. William wasn’t painting on the set, but he helped point out interesting details for me to capture. You cannot see all the detail in his paintings, but when you stand next to them the details are unreal. The bikes are beautiful machines and easy to photograph.
Since that time I’ve continued the project a little bit on my own, and I hope to be able get back to it. I’ve been working exclusively with one collector in Canada who’s in the process of collecting the biggest motorcycle collection in Canada.
Q: Which motorcycle was your favorite to photograph?
A: I loved the Ariel and the green Motobi. What I love has to do more with the shapes and dimensions of the engines. I’m not technical in terms of parts and pieces, but rather in terms of negative space and flow. I really appreciate the design of motorcycles and cars, but when it comes down to how everything works, I’m still trying to learn.
Q: How did you get interested in classic cars and motorcycles?
A: It started with a ride in a vintage Corvette. When I was a kid my neighbor was a collector of Corvettes. He took me for a spin, and I got to feel the power of the car. I’m always going back to the design aspect, but with vintage cars, that is a big thing for me. The sound and smell are also key factors, and those things definitely hit the spot during that ride in the Corvette.
Q: Which classic car or motorcycle would you most like to own someday?
A: Hopefully I’ll have the funds someday to have that hobby, but right now photography is my life, although I have really started to appreciate motorcycles. I really like café racers, so maybe one of those.
Q: How does your full-time work differ from your motorcycle photography?
A: With the motorcycle photography, I can create my own design. I’m still shooting the same type of thing, but I don’t have to follow any brand guidelines like I do when I shoot commercially. So it gives me more freedom.
Q: Where do you get your inspiration for your work and your projects?
A: I’m pretty active in terms of cycling, hiking, and other outdoor stuff. For me, being active and moving really helps in coming up with ideas. I then can take those ideas back with me into the studio.
Photography by Todd McLellan