Dirk Behlau isn’t an automotive photographer. At least that’s what he says. For someone who isn’t a car photographer, Dirk “The PixelEye” does a fantastic job of setting the scene, and getting a great capture. Covering events which should be on every car guy’s bucket list, Dirk’s portfolio spans from kustom kulture get togethers to the Carrera Panamericana. He is also a lifestyle photographer, shooting tattoo shops and conventions as well as rock and metal bands at some of the biggest music festivals in the world.
Recently, He and a friend, Jesper Bram released a film they made together called “Flake and Flames: The Kustom Kulture Adventure”. It has been released to iTunes and DVD, and follows many individuals all over the world who are involved in and contribute to “Kustom Kulture”. As a side note, I bought and watched the film before I made a connection with Dirk. It’s a great film that looks into where Kustom Kulture comes from, what it is, and the different meanings it has for people. For anyone who loves kustoms, it’s worth having. For those who don’t know much about kustom kulture, it’s an entertaining and informative introduction to a kulture that centers as much around people as it does cars.
Dirk agreed to give us a closer look into what started everything for him, what he loves to shoot, and how relationships he’s built over the years have led to some amazing events with good people.
What started your car obsession?
Actually I have no idea… I remember playing with cars a lot as a kid and I was always fascinated by American race cars. I loved to play slot car racing track – we call that “Carrerabahn” in Germany.
I also bought American car magazines at early ages and had a huge Top Fuel Dragbike hanging on my wall together with another big American truck poster – my parents bought these on our vacations in the Netherlands.
Was there an event that cemented your love of cars?
Actually the event that kicked of the racing passion was the “NitrolympX” around ten years ago where I took photos for a car magazine and which really blew me away. To see all the Top Fuel Dragsters and Doorslammers really blew my mind. Over here in Germany it’s not as in the US where you can see cool cars or professional drag racing every weekend.
How did you find photography, and what made you choose photography as a career?
I didn’t choose it – it found me. I shoot professionally since around 15 years or so… and not only
cars – actually I don’t see myself as a “car photographer” at all. I shoot lifestyle, the combination of man (or girl) and machine. And a lot of other stuff like international bands, custombikes, Pin-Ups, Fashion etc. for international clients.
Köln (Cologne) is a great city. Is there anything specific that you love about it?
I love the whole area because I was born here and I think the people in my area are great because they are easy, funny and very harmless even [though] they may look weird sometimes on first sight.
Being based in Germany, it is much easier to be an international car guy. Is there someone you met in another country that opened your eyes to a new genre, or sub-culture?
Every trip I do is a great experience. I travelled with the Finnish band “Leningrad Cowboys” to Mexico
twice to race the “La Carrera Panamericana”, the most dangerous race in the world. I’ve been
to the Mint 400 Desert Race near Las Vegas for General Tires, to the Classic Le Mans race in France and all kind of other rallies or racing stuff. I love the variety of cars, even I prefer the old days atmosphere from the 60s and 70s where everything was more rough. I’m absolutely not interested in modern Formula One for example. It’s no more Rock’n’Roll nowadays.
Have you driven the Nürburgring?
I’ve been there a small kid at a Formula One race with my parents and I remember I ran away from the fence because It was soooo louuuud haha. I shot some cars some years ago in wintertime when there was snow for a German magazine but actually I never raced there.
Judging from your portfolio, you love a wide range of cars, and cover many different kinds of events. Is there one particular moment that stands out for you?
As I said earlier I’ve been nearly everywhere in the world so far – but being with a bunch of Finnish guys in Mexico for three weeks was really a special experience. After that you can survive everything haha.
“Flake and Flames” is a great film about hot rodders all over the world. What drove you to create it?
Actually it is a film about Kustom Kulture and Lowbrow Art, not only Hot Rodders. They all tell their story and it’s basically a film about passion and the love about the things you do. I did it together with my Danish buddy Jesper Bram and we just start doing it. We were lucky that it turned out that good. The film is out on DVD and on iTunes. More about it at www.flakeandflames.com
Are you working towards owning a particular car, and if so, which one?
I love cars but I’m traveling a lot and I have absolutely no time for doing this.
I have a girl and a little boy and I like to spend time with them when I’m not busy
– I don’t want to spend my “free time” in the garage.
What car have you not had the opportunity to shoot, but would love to?
Oh good questions. I have actually shot all kind of cars you can image over the last ten years.
What I really love is the feeling of the 60s & 70s advertising… it’s my main goal to shoot
atmospheric photos you can feel. It’s actually not about the car itself, it’s about the whole setting.
Create something epic and timeless. Photos who can stand the test of time.
Last but not least, What are you top 10 Favorite cars?
I don’t really have a top ten but I give it a try 🙂 I really love 70s Funny Cars!
1969 Dodge Daytona
1964 VW Bulli
1968 Ford Mustang Fastback
1957 Mercedes 300 SL Roadster
1969 Jaguar E Type
1958 Ford Country Sedan
1973 Porsche 911 Carrera RSR 3.0
1974 Lamborghini Countach LP 400 S
Also, check out this trailer for Flake and Flames.
If you love it, go here.www.flakeandflames.com
As always, Let us know which is your favorite photo from this feature!