Back in late 2017 we highlighted some motorcycle photography from Los Angeles-based photographer, Heidi Zumbrun. Now, after another year of traveling the world and photographing motorcycle, surf, and skate culture, Heidi is back with a new gallery exhibition. Held at the Lair Gallery in West Hollywood’s Tesse Cafe at Fred Segal, this recent exhibit was curated by Stacie B London and showcased a body of work focusing on and celebrating the unique culture and energy of the motorcycle and surf community.

Skate, surf, and motorcycle culture are Heidi Zumbrun’s best known subjects [Heidi Zumbrun]
Upon the exhibition wrapping up, we spoke with the woman behind the photos about her latest show and delved into the challenges of capturing motorcycling in photography, what exactly it is that sparks her interest in these cultures, and what she’s trying to capture behind the camera.

For anyone unfamiliar with you or your work, can you tell us a little about your background with photography and motorcycling?

“Sure: I’ve been riding a motorcycle for 20-plus-years,  I have an MFA in photography & I’ve been taking pictures since I was 16.  Luckily along the way my lifestyle and my photography work have merged….

The gallery in Fred Segal [Heidi Zumbrun]
What parallels do you see between surf and moto?

Well, riding waves, riding roads – there’s an immediate parallel right there.  Holding your line on an open road or riding down the line surfing a wave in the open ocean -I think there’s a sense of freedom in both & they tend to attract very like minded passionate people who love the outdoors, motion and speed.

Ayumi Yamakita prepping for a flat track race at Wheels&Waves California [Heidi Zumbrun]
Can you tell us about the recent show?

This particular exhibit was curated by Stacie B. London and it’s a culmination of the last year or so of my photographs documenting friends, racers & local riders in the motorcycle and surf community. The selection of images are from a body of work that I’ve been showing throughout the year- primarily images from the Mexilog Festival -a longboarding, single-fin festival in Mexico – Hell on Wheels -a local vintage dirt bike racing club here in Los Angeles, & the Wheels and Waves festival in France and California.

Olivier Prat at Wheels&Waves Biarritz in the surf contest [Heidi Zumbrun]
What is it that you’re trying to capture or convey in your photography?

I’m trying to capture, at least in this body of work, the people in my community. The people in the moto and surf culture, my culture, fascinate me- as does the history and the craft of building motorcycles and surfboards and the riders relationship with them. I definitely lean towards a vintage aesthetic and I love longboarding, single-fins, vintage motorcycles, and the vintage bike scene. I’m trying to document the people that make up this community who are doing incredible things- whether it’s racing or competing, building bikes or shaping boards. I really want to tell their stories.

Do you see yourself as having a particular style?

I think my style is unstyled.  My photography is mostly done on the fly, which means I try to capture natural moments.  Mainly I’m trying to be as unobtrusive as possible and just document moments & people.  I do a lot of what I call lurking haha

Fashion and motorcycling legend Nick Ashley at Wheels&Waves Biarritz [Heidi Zumbrun]
Do you have a favorite piece from the recent exhibition?

It’s hard to choose a favorite, but if I had to choose, I’d say it’s the one of Edie Ashley & Alena Chendler taken right after getting off the track. It was taken at Wheels and Waves in Biarritz, France after Edie had finished her first race at the Deus Swank Rally- it was pouring down rain- they’re sopping wet from riding and Edie covered in mud -I just love everything about the mood of this shot.  (Edie is from England and Elena is from Russia and they both came to France to participate in the W&W races and festivities.)

What’s the hardest thing to convey about bikes from behind the lens of a camera?

Speed.  You want to stop motion and show speed at the same time- this is a bit of a contradiction.”

The Stopnik family doesn’t only play with choppers as the Cycle Zombies MC…as noted at Wheels&Waves California [Heidi Zumbrun]
We asked the exhibition curator Stacie B London what she felt makes Zumbrun’s work special & London explained that she “wanted to curate a collection of Heidi’s photographs because I think she takes really beautiful and honest photos.  Heidi has a magical eye and combines her art school education with her fashion world experience to document this renaissance of motorcycles, racing, surfing and SoCal culture with an honest narrative that only people who are experiencing it usually see.  She’s able to insert herself into the dirt, water, ditch, or cliff to get the shot she wants in order to tell her story.  Her background in art and fashion has developed into an interesting and clean aesthetic.  There’s purity to her work- so that the image is about the purity of the excitement and experience in the moment.”

Heidi Zumbrun in the Lair Gallery [Stacie B. London]
Links : website  instagram @heidizumbrun

music by Rocco Deluca sponsored by Sol Beer, Topo Chico Mineral Water, Freddy Cerrato