Photographer, yes, but also amateur motorcyclist, world traveler, and not to mention, one of British GQ’s Best-Dressed Men of 2017.
We worked with photographer Dimitri Coste (and the creative team at be-poles) for the recently opened Sydell Group property, Park MGM in Las Vegas. Coste’s work, which often captures the sunny, gritty scenery of California and the American West, sets the scene for the property as part of the Vegas landscape. Rather than bringing Paris or Venice to Vegas, Park MGM celebrates the off-the-strip spirit of Las Vegas. Part of éditions be poles’ portraits de villes series, Coste’s hazy, sandy palm trees, dim-lit streets, and scenes captured through the car window are reminiscent of the great American road trip.
We caught up with the photographer (in between jet sets) to talk photographs and motorcycles.
You’ve been described as a “Californian living in Paris”, where does your interest in Californian/Los Angeles culture come from?
My fascination for Californian culture comes from endless hours spent admiring images of BMX, skateboarding and supercross in the mid 1980’s. All those sports were bringing an entire culture and aesthetics, it was not only about the actions but also the way they were dressed, the colors and the environment where they were performing.
When you’re shooting, what kind of moments are you looking for?
I’m mainly looking for a mental state, that moment where I’m fully focused and connected, the moment where I’m not conscious of myself as a human and I just melt with the subject becoming just an energy through a viewfinder, it’s very different if I’m shooting landscapes or a person, a connection has to appear somehow and it can be like small epiphanies or pure simple short moments of happiness when I’m touched by the beauty of what see through my lens, it’s those moments where I feel naturally alive and myself, and the only other place I can feel this is when I’m racing motorcycle, it’s a state of full lâcher prise and truth.
You’re an avid motorcyclist as well as photographer of the sport. What drew you to motorcycling?
As a kid, I was a fan of Jean-Paul Belmondo and Lee Majors and wanted to be a stuntman.
I still dream of performing a chase scene or stunt for a movie. And as I told you already I was passionate about motocross/supercross. Growing up in the Parisian suburbs I didn’t have the opportunity to do it and got into riding BMX as a plan B. I became later a test rider for a mountain bike magazine and always felt at my place holding a bar on two wheels. An important part of the drive to ride is also witnessing my father who was (and still is) racing pre-war British motorcycles and cyclecars—true inspiration. I finally got into riding motorcycles just 10 years ago and it literally changed my life.
What kind of challenges come in photographing motorcycling?
Well, the main challenge now for me is to control my frustration of not being on the motorcycle. Otherwise, I’d say pushing the rider to perform without putting him or me in danger. Technically, it’s all about capturing the right moment and find the perfect angle. Sometimes you have only one chance. It’s thrilling.
You travel often for your work. Where is a favorite place of yours to photograph?
Definitely west of the US, and the US in general. I’d love to explore more like Wyoming, Montana, Wisconsin, Alabama.
What new projects do you have coming up?
I’m working on a book about a road trip from New Orleans to Los Angeles, the Dixie Road—but reversed of what I did in 2016. I’ll be having a photo exhibition in Biarritz this coming June and other exciting things to come that should remain discreet for now.
On the riding side, for the second year I’m racing flat track for Indian motorcycles at several races in the UK, Netherlands, Spain and the US in 2018, and I’m working on designing a ltd signature watch with the very noble brand Zenith watches for 2019, which is a very, very exciting project.
All images courtesy of Dimitri Coste.