Interview: Photographer Todd McLellan
We recently spotted Todd’s photographs on the always pleasing Motart blog. Tod has just shot a ‘Classic Motorcycle’ series that features some of the sweetest bikes money can buy. We loved his subject matter and photos so much that we wanted to find out a little more about Todd McLellan.
Could you introduce yourself to our readers? Who are you? What do you do? Where do you live?
My name is Todd McLellan, I was born in the western Canadian province of Saskatchewan. I now live in Toronto where I am a full time Photographer. I photograph a lot in the advertising field and have concentrated on transportation the first part of my career. I am very much into the design of the objects I shoot and I think that what gets me going when photographing something. When the light hits the object it can do wonderful things.
Do you ride? If so, what bikes do you own and where do you like to ride?
At the moment I ride a bicycle. My first time on a motorbike was in the Caribbean. I was walking along and decided to rent one at a little stand. I gave them some cash, they gave me a bike. I had to tell them I had never ridden before. The guy brought me to the back with the bike and made me ride a couple circles just to make sure I wouldn’t wreck his bike when I took it out, he couldn’t care less about me. Having never been on a bike before and just heading out on left side drive roads may not have been the best way to experience riding, but it was an experience. Two of my brothers ride and take 2 week trips all the time into the U.S. After hearing their stories and working with the motorcycles in my photographs I need to get my hands on a bike soon. This year I may start out with an Kawasaki KZ650. My goal would be to set myself on a Wrench Monkee bike. I love their Monkee #4 Yamaha XS500 or the Monkee #11 Honda CB750. I am really into the design of the bike more so than the power. Even a scooter will kick a cars ass off the line.
Can you explain to us the ideas behind your “classic motorcycles” project?
This was a project that came to me from a local artist. He was interested in getting really well done reference photos for his larger than life paintings. We got together and discussed how we could photograph these bikes in a classical way being very descriptive for his purpose and elegant for mine. The more natural lighting and backgrounds were just starting to become part of my process and this series was one of the first departures from my normal dark settings. I’ve always struggled with the the subject taking over the photograph, and in this case just let that go. The motorcycles that we choose for the images have great negative space to them and are fantastically designed which make a beautiful photograph.
Can you give us some more info on that amazing red triumph?
This is a beautiful bike owned by Bar Hodgson. It’s a 1969 Triumph Powered Dragster Alcohol burning 850cc four stroke, pushrod overhead valve twin cylinder engine. Alf Hagon chassis from England. Bar used to race with this bike and has since retired it to his collection. The length, weight and riding position of this bike is amazing.
Do you have any more bike shoots planned?
I have been back and forth with the owner of 5 of the 7 motorcycles photographed to continue the series. Between his motorcycle shows and my commercial shoots, we haven’t had the time to get together. I would like to get back into the studio this fall.