Published on July 20th, 2014 | by Boris
RUSSELL COLVIN – PHOTOGRAPHER & HAPPY MAN
You’ve probably seen Russell’s shot over the last few years. He’s relatively new on the scene, but his smiling enthusiasm is fabulously infectious. This is a man who loves his work and, as a consequence, is very good at it.
We sent Russell a few questions and asked him to put together a small selection of some of his favourite shots. He very kindly did both…
How old are you?
Currently 31-years old, 32 in October.
Where do you live?
Rosanna in Victoria. A twenty minute drive from Melbourne airport which is a bonus as well!
How long have you been taking pics professionally?
I started taking pictures in late 2010 (the first event was the last round of the VRRC), then my first real gig was at the 2011 Island Classic for Cycle Torque, then the WSBK for Just Bikes. But I really got going around mid-2011.
Did you take pics as a kid?
Sure did! Every motorcycle race meeting I went to I brought a camera with me and snapped away. I have pictures dating back from the 1996 WSBK round at Phillip Island when Anthony Gobert got the double and Troy Corser clinched the title! I just loved taking pictures at race meets.
Where is your work published?
In regards to print, both my pictures and writing are published in Motorcycle Trader, from time to time in Australasian Dirt Bike, Dirt Action and Rapid Bikes and I have just started doing things for Totally Motorsport for the bike side of things, which is great!
I’ve also been very lucky to have a bit of my work published in Trial Magazine UK from the Aussie round of the World Trials this year. Also Fast Bikes and Classic Bikes from this year’s Island Classic.
Online published stuff, it’s with CycleOnline.com.au and MotoOnline.com.au that Alex Gobert runs. I like working for Cycle Online and MotoOnline as Alex does make the work exciting to go and do!
I have also done a few things for Racesport.nl, a Dutch website that Evert Slager runs. I submit my pictures and writing in English, then he converts it to Dutch as my Dutch is not that very good. Also a bit of my AORC (Australian Off-Road Championship) work ends up on the Motorcycling Australia website as well.
You seem like the happiest photographer I have ever met. I guess you love your job, huh?
Hahaha. I’m happy 24/7! Yeah, I just love what I do. To me, it does not feel like a job; it’s an honour to do what I do. I’m the biggest fan of motorsport and motorcycle racing. To be able to cover motorcycle racing and get paid to do it, there simply is nothing better in life than that.
When I first brought a camera back in 2010, I never once thought I would end up doing what I am right now! Also I have been very lucky with my job to have meet and worked with some of the great riders in the country such as Wayne Maxwell, Glenn Allerton, Robbie Bugden, Jed Metcher, Daniel Falzon, Steve Martin, Toby Price, Chris Hollis, Josh Green and Jess Gardiner just to name a few. And there is the international stars such as Graham Jarvis, Sir Alan Cathcart, Toni Bou, Jeremy McWilliams; I even got to sit down and interview Giacomo Agostini for about ten minutes at the 2013 Island Classic!
What is there not to love about my job? It’s every boy’s dream to do what I’m doing, and as I said, I’m just very lucky and grateful for what I do. I think that is why I’m so happy at the race track. There is no way I would be where I am today if it was not for all the great support and help from everyone.
All the editors who give up their time to help me, fellow photographers such as Keith Muir, Kevin Eeles, Steve Thibou and Andrew Gosling who have guided me along the way, fellow writers, riders, teams, officials, even down to the great support from Nikon Australia and NPS who have always helped me out whenever I have needed it. When you have that support to do what you love most, it just makes you so happy being at the race track.
What do you like photographing the most?
Motorcycle racing! It’s a hard one if I have to pick between road racing and AORC, it would be a tie. I find with AORC you can get more different shots and it’s exciting!
When you have the likes of Daniel Milner or Glenn Kearney coming out of corners and spraying dirt everywhere, that’s pretty exciting to shoot. But then again road racing can be unreal to shoot as well! I’m not a real fan of shooting single bike shots. I rather shoot pack-racing shots with riders diving up the inside of each other.
But another form of motorcycle stuff I love shooting most is trials. That is simply unreal! And how close you can get to them is something else. So out of those three if I have to pick one, it would be trials. But I love it all!
Have you ever considered doing people or models?
Not really. It doesn’t excite me enough. Wouldn’t make enough noise. I like taking pictures of people in the pit area and pretty grid girls, but that would be the closest I would come. I really like taking pictures of grid girls, that’s fun, easy on the eye and the lens.
Who would you most like to photograph?
That’s a tough one! I have basically shot everyone I can think of from all the MotoGP riders, to Australian riders. I would love to shoot photos of Jeremy McGrath doing the old ‘nac nac’ as he was the one who started that really. I don’t follow the AMA Supercross closely, but McGrath was one of my hero’s when I was growing up.
Where would you most like to travel and shoot what?
That’s an easy one! Isle of Man TT! I have to do that one day. Shooting the likes of Cam Donald and Guy Martin and co racing around the IOM would be a dream! IOM TT is like the World Trials. The riders have a big set of balls! But for sure, IOM TT is what I really want to do!
Who do you reckon is the best Aussie racer on the track now?
Next question please. Nah, in terms of road racing there are a few. In the Superbikes it’s a tie between Wayne Maxwell and Glenn Allerton. They are both as good as each other. With Glenn having a few dramas with his knee in the past few rounds of the ASC, it will be very interesting to see what he can do when he gets back to 100 percent fitness.
In the Supersport I would have to say Daniel Falzon, but keep your eye on Kyle Buckley and Brandon Demmery in the Ninja FX-300. They are two riders who I believe will go a long way in years to come.
In the AORC it would have to be Toby Price, and Jess Gardiner in the Women’s championship. After what happened to Pricey last year after his crash in the US, I never thought he would come back this strong, and the bloke is on the verge of winning his fourth outright AORC crown with in six years.
On top of that he has won Finke and Hattah this year, and he always just seems to be on song. Jess is more than likely going to wrap up her third championship, but it is what she has done in the World Enduro Championship that has impressed me!
Who is the greatest racer of all time?
I would say Mick Doohan. After what he went through in 1992 with almost losing his leg to bounce back to win five 500cc world championships in a row, to win 54 races and stand on the podium on 95 times, it’s amazing to see what Mighty Mick did!
It just goes to show, never give up! And those 500cc machines where brutal beasts! Nothing like MotoGP bikes with traction control, launch control etc, the only traction control Mick had was in his right wrist. It would have to be Doohan for sure!
What is the most difficult thing you’ve ever shot?
Last year’s Island Classic was a challenge. But that was because I put so much pressure on myself to perform. I was shooting for Australian Motorcycle News and I was the number one snapper for them that weekend. I know how much that event means to them, so I didn’t want to let anyone down.
In the past I have been so used to Keith Muir being the number one man and I was simply the ‘rear gunner’ where I could basically wander around and shoot whatever I liked without a hassle in the world. I did think it was not going to be that hard, but boy was I wrong!
I followed the brief to the dotted line, and as much as AMCN were happy with the job I did, I personally felt I didn’t do as well as I should of because I never got that ‘wow factor’ shot like in 2012 with a bike going up in flames in pit lane.
Where is Russell in five years time?
Hopefully covering either MotoGP or WSBK or the World Enduro Championship full-time in Europe doing photos and words! It’s dream, and probably a long shot, but I’ll keep working towards it. It’s all I want to do in life, so I have to make it happen.
What kind of gear do you use?
Nikon gear. Only the best will do. I have a Nikon D3s and a D90. I am about four weeks away from getting the latest and greatest D4s which is like the GTS of the HSV range. I have a Nikon 70-200 2.8, 14-24 2.8, 17-55 2.8, 16mm fisheye, and a SB 700 flash.
Do you miss film?
What the hell is that? I am a tad young to know about film. I have only used digital, so I would not know anything about film. All I do know is that the real photographers are the people who used to use film.
It’s so easy these days to buy a camera and shoot then look at what you got, if you didn’t like, do it again. Not in film days, so I have always said the real and true snappers where the ones that used film. I admire those photographers.
What is your dream gear – money no object?
It would be a Nikon 600mm F4 lens and three D4s bodies.
Do you ride? What do you ride?
I ride a Kawasaki SX 650 jetski and drive a 100S gokart. They are my two toys at the moment that I use to get away from life. From time to time Chas Hern or Richard Loft will lend me their 450s to race a bit of dirt track at the Harley Club of Victoria at Broadford. Once I get a 600mm lens then I will get a CFR450.