Harley Sunsets

Updated: Jun 24, 2021

Richard Norris is a Townsville photographer specialising

in weddings, lifestyle and portrait photography.

Outback Australia and American muscle go together like red dust and blow flies.

One of the first portrait shoots I did was with a friend in north-west Queensland who was the very proud owner of a Harley Sportster.

I'm also a keen motorcyclist, so I understood the satisfaction on his face whenever I saw him rumble through town on the black Sportster, black sunglasses shielding him from the desert sun as it tried to beat him in to a shady refuge.

I wanted to capture that feeling in a photograph, so I hit him up to do a shoot outside town on one of the quieter roads out in in that vast empty quarter most Australians never visit.

A man and his girlfriend walking toward his Harley Davidson, backlit but a hot yellow western sun that is sinking toward the horizon.

“I know that this isn't wedding photography, but it isn't a dissimilar creative process for me. In both cases I am trying to create something iconic that the subject can look back on in years come and feel an emotion and a connection to that place and moment in time."

The actual mechanics of the shoot were fairly simple. Darrin was keen to do whatever I asked so we tried some action shots with me shooting out the back of his 4WD while his girlfriend Alecia drove.

We had some luck but bouncing around on those patched and pot-holed roads meant I was practically guessing whenever I hit the shutter release, trusting that what I thought I'd framed moments before was still there. It can be hit and miss shooting like this, but the constant movement gives you a chance to drag the shutter and create a great sense of movement and action in the frame (when you get it right).

Once I had a handful of useable shots from the back of the vehicle we drove back up to crest that sat at the end of a sweeping curve. I lay down on the shoulder with the 70-200mm telephoto to get in close and compress the scene while separating Darrin from the background.

“As I looked through my telephoto I could hear him gunning the big twin on his approach to the crest. He swam into view over the the rise through the haze, hooking into a long, smooth right hand turn.

CHNK CHNK CHNK CHNK CHNK. I got 5 or 6 frames snapped off on each run and

landed what i figured must be some decent shots.

There was something so awesome about lying on that road with the Harley roaring past at the end of each run. The afternoon sun refused to cool as as it dropped into the west, amplifying the palpable remoteness.

One of the lovely things about motorbikes is that so much is on display. Unless it's tucked behind a plastic fairing, it's on show. This detail can be a beautiful thing, and Harley Davidson know as much about aesthetics as anyone.

When the light started to soften and drop we pulled up and found a nice place to concentrate on the bike as the subject. It would have been hard to find a studio set-up that delivered the light and ambience that we had that afternoon.

If you're looking for lifestyle photography or portraits in Townsville, north Queensland, then Richie Norris Photos at is a great place to start looking.

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