The Motorcycle Portraits is a project by photographer/filmmaker David Goldman, who travels the world making documentaries, and takes time out to interview interesting people in the motorcycle scene, wherever he might be.  The result is a single exemplary photo, a geolocation of his subject, and a transcribed interview.  The audio of his interviews can be found on The Motorcycle Portraits website.

The following portrait session is with Maxwell Hazan: motorcycle artist extraordinaire.  Max burst on the custom motorcycle scene in 2012, with innovative creations that had an immediately recognizable signature: silver machines with a light, elegant structure, and novel proportions of their components.  The Vintagent first encountered Max in Brooklyn in 2012, and the following year he moved to Los Angeles, where his career really blossomed, and he vaulted to the pantheon of globally recognized moto-artists. David Goldman asked Max a few questions about motorcycling: here are his responses.

Maxwell Hazan in his Los Angeles studio. [David Goldman]

“My name is Max Hazan, I build custom motorcycles here at my shop in Los Angeles. I started building motorcycles about 8 years ago full time.  It wasn’t something that I set out to do; I had crashed a bike in an off-road race and couldn’t walk for a while, and was looking to pass the time.  I always build stuff, and I motorized a beach cruiser bicycle I had in my apt. I decided to build something after that because it went faster then I thought it was going to go.  I was like, ‘you know what, we need to use motorcycle parts.’ A few years went by and I went back to my job and didn’t think anything of it, but I kept building bikes, and I was selling them.  I had lunch with my dad and he said, “I think you got something here.” He gave me the push to go for it full time and said he would help out if I needed it and he would give me a year.  It actually didn’t work in that year. I was ready to go back to my job and I was like ‘you know what, I tried.’  Two days later the phone rang, and someone wanted to commission a bike, and I sold another one after that, and it worked. It was something that I didn’t intend to do, but I’m happy it worked out like that.   

It’s the purest form of fun that I know. 

So, motorcycles.  You know there was not one moment that [they] really hit me. It’s not like ‘I saw a chopper one day.’ As far back as I could remember I loved motorcycles, I don’t know what it was. These were dirt bikes, there was something I was just drawn to, and I liked it. I grew up riding bikes, but then living in NY and going to college and getting a job, it kind of went away. It wasn’t until years later I was looking at things to do outside of the city, that I got into riding again. Like I mentioned, it’s also how I got hurt. As far as a moment defining when I started liking motorcycles it was literally innate. It was as far back as I could remember. 

I get asked the question a lot, “what does motorcycling me to me?” I always thought I needed some kind of profound answer, and I was trying to think of something, but to be honest, it’s fun.  It’s the purest form of fun that I know.  My brain is always going a million miles an hour, and it’s the one thing that’s actually is calming to me is riding a motorcycle fast.  It’s something that forces your attention to be in the moment. So honestly it’s peace of mind. That’s the biggest takeaway from motorcycling. Doesn’t matter if you are on a track or on a Harley going 20 miles an hour, it’s forced participation in the moment and you don’t have to think about anything else   

So, I think of the experiences motorcycling has given me and the one biggest effect on me is doing it every day for work. I walk into the shop and I literally have to pinch myself every day, I can’t believe I figured out a way to do something I like this much for a living. You know it’s not the best sales thing to tell your clients “I’d do it for free” but honestly, you know I would. I would do this every day.”


David Goldman is photographer and filmmaker who has traveled the world on projects documenting human trafficking, maternal health and marginalized people. He also interviews and photographs motorcyclists in this travels for his series The Motorcycle Portraits. You can follow his website here, his IG here, and his FB here. Explore all his stories for The Vintagent here.
Related Posts

The Motorcycle Portraits: Anya Violet Aghababian

Anya Violet Aghababian co-founded the…

The Ride: Max Hazan’s ‘Musket 2’

Max Hazan has built a silver machine…

The Universal Racing Motorcycle

Dimitri Coste attempts the impossible:…

Subscribe to Our Weekly Newsletter