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© Hannes Schmid, 2019

When my NY agent told me, ‘HD is interested in your work’ and asked if I would be up for shooting their next advertising campaign, I said yes! Even if I wasn’t a big fan of bikers, to work and influence another American heritage or maybe the second biggest heritage besides the Marlboro Cowboy would be another dream come true.
 
After some meetings in NY, myself with my agent and the HD team, I felt that I needed to learn more about the HD world, the bikers and the myth behind it. A couple of weeks later, I travelled to Florida to the second largest meeting of HD bikers. 
 

"THE DAYTONA BIKE WEEK."
 
The scene was immense and totally opposite of what I had expected. And it became quite a task to decide which scenes to capture. As a by-stander, I must say the scenes and sounds when these guys were riding down the main road of Daytona became rather impressive and so mesmerising that one would entertain the thought that becoming one of them would be just perfect.
 
What impressed me was the look of these bikers: tough, aggressive, brutal, with sex written all over. Yes, and a small sign on a bike ‘25 cents if you show your tits’. 
The sexily dressed women in their leather outfits, with their tattoos peeking through their authentically ripped jeans. And yes! There was alcohol, a lot of it.
 
I felt totally out of place, in my normal outfit. I was initially afraid to get anywhere near this crowd. A crowd where everybody had a similar identity with a common goal to manifest this other life dimension for 5 days at Daytona, the life of a HD biker with the aroma of gas and burning tyres.
 
Behind this facade of a breakout from their normal lives, where are they from and who are they in their daily lives? I started to focus on the real person, behind this mask and I was amazed at each of their stories as I got closer to them.
 
This photographic essay shows and challenges the visual illusions of the bikers. What one sees or thinks at immediate impact is at times, completely different in its reality. In a different crowd with a purpose, one can take on an idea and live out a dream.


Photographs can only capture what is seen, but they cannot show the actual truth behind a scene or the people. The interpretation of these photographs is up to each viewer but the personal stories behind them are the real game changes to the perception of what one sees.