We decided that you, our fans, may want to hear from some of the people involved in our little world of custom motorcycles. We have a ton of great partners in this operation and a lot of those people are characters and interesting people in their own right. You may not know it, but there are many moving parts that contribute to the companies you know as ‘Analog Motorcycles’ & ‘Analog Motor Goods.’ We have employees, suppliers, customers, you – our fans, and we have people that help make things happen with their own expertise. One of those people is Grant.
Grant Schwingle is the Media Coordinator for Analog Motorcycles. He was one of Analog Motorcycles’ first employees, and as the Media Coordinator he’s the guy responsible for a lot of the photos you see of Analog Motorcycles. He also does almost all of the videos, and all of our social media accounts in addition to a lot of other stuff. Chances are if you’re an Analog fan, you see his work on a regular basis. We wanted to kick off the ‘Analog Interview Series‘ with him, because he came up with the idea for the series, and since he’s around Analog HQ regularly, it was easy to nail down a time to chat with him.
Analog: How did you get started with Analog
Grant: I got started with Tony in 2014. I met him at Motoblot. I also saw his builds at the Analog tent at Rockerbox that year, and possibly in previous years. I started to see his stuff pop up on a regular basis at the shows we go to in the area. I always had a passion for photographing cars and motorcycles, so I went up to Tony and asked if he ever needed anyone to photograph his stuff, and he said maybe, so I gave him a business card. I think it was less than a week later he ended up calling me to do a shoot for him with a piece that was going to go in Sport Bikes Inc Mag. I ended up working for him less than a week after I talked to him and then another couple weeks later I photographed the Blue Baron, and it kind of went from there. I think it was in late July he basically (asked) hey do you want to do the social media for Analog? I said yes, and it’s been going from there ever since.
Analog: What is your background?
Grant: I went to school for photography – I’ve always had a passion for it. Growing up I’d take my car out to take pictures of it, clean it, wax it really nice and try and do different things and learn different things about photography using my car as a subject. Kind of nerdy, but I really enjoyed that. I would do long exposures using the tripod and do all this different stuff in order to learn about photography. I’ve always had an interest in things like that – I was into photographing my friends skateboarding back in the day, I like motorcycles and cars – things that are moving that people are involved in and have a passion for.
Analog: What is it like working for us?
Grant: It’s really fun. It’s a lot of work sometimes. We go through different periods when Tony is busy with a lot of different builds and a lot of things going on. Sometimes in the middle of the winter there’s some periods where we don’t do as much basically, or rather I’m not – Tony tends to remain extremely busy the whole time. It’s harder to go out and take photographs if it’s the middle of the winter so my job tends to not be as busy, but it’s fun. There’s a lot of different things that I wouldn’t ever have been a part of like going down to the Handbuilt Show and Barber Vintage Festival. I’m a motorcycle fan and I like the idea of going to these things, but I probably never would have spent the time or money to go down to those events if it hadn’t been for working with Analog.
Analog: What’s your favorite thing you’ve done with Analog?
Grant: The Handbuilt Show last year was really, really fun. It’s cool to be able to people that are “Instagram famous”, or whatever, and you see them everywhere online, see people on Bike EXIF, and all of that but then you actually go and meet them and have conversations with these people and they’re just good, cool people. It’s a cool thing about the scene you can go across the country and still have friends basically that you don’t even know but they’re just there and you can chat with them, it’s cool. The single most fun thing I’ve done is our shoot for the Ducati Super Scrambler though. That was an all day shoot and included hanging out the side of the van shooting rolling footage to riding two-up on a TW200, trying to get some footage in the dirt riding next to Tony. It’s a really small motorcycle with two relatively large dudes on it, it’s pretty hilarious (laughs). I ended up being very happy video and footage and it was one of the more fun things I’ve been a part of.
Analog: How do you find inspiration for the videos and photo shoots?
Grant: I’ve got a collaborative relationship with Tony, which is good. He might have an idea, or if he doesn’t, I’ll come up with 3-4 ideas and be like, “hey what do you think about doing this for this bike”? I’m constantly thinking of ideas of how to shoot things, so I’m trying to use those when it seems appropriate, like the camping thing with the scrambler. We thought hey, it’s the end of the season, this will be symbolic of the last ride of the year. We wanted to do a little bit more of a narrative thing for that video. We ended up running with it and seeing how we could best execute the idea.
Analog: How did you become interested in motorcycles?
Grant: That’s exclusively my father. He is the one that’s responsible for getting me involved in cars and motorcycles and all that. I can’t do without them – I don’t know if that’s a nature vs. nurture thing. Am I predisposed to love cars and motors and stuff or is that something he imbued in me? I’ve always had a respect for people doing things that they’re really involved in; any type of activity that people are passionate about is cool to me.
Analog: What kind of equipment do you use?
Grant: I use pretty much exclusively Nikon digital SLRs. I’ve got a number of different cameras that I use but it’s all Nikon stuff. We also secured a little sponsorship from GoPro late last year, so I’ve been using GoPro Hero 4 Black’s now and those are really cool. We just got a drone that I’m excited about using. I’ve got a variety of different lenses and stuff too so it’s pretty much just Nikon and the supporting gear. For a while I shot all my stuff with a 50mm F/1.4, and that was fun, but recently I picked up a 70-200 F2.8 and that is a great lens for photographing bikes. If I could only use one lens for motorcycle photography, that would be it.
Analog: Are there any perks of working with Analog?
Grant: There definitely are some great perks. Getting to a venue before a show is set up is always really nice. When everyone is loading in you feel the camaraderie by meeting up with your friends and the people that are in the business. In addition to that Tony has a fleet of motorcycles that he graciously allows me to ride, so it’s cool being able to test ride some really, really nice stuff. Tony’s got a really good support group of his friends and family that are really cool, so I’m happy to call them my friends as well.
Analog: What have you learned from working with Analog?
Grant: Tony definitely pushes me to work really hard and be very detail-oriented. He obviously does that with his own work and expects the same from his other vendors and people that help him, his other employees, etc. He expects the best because he’s trying to give the best to his customers. Sometimes when I’m not in the mood because I’ve had a long day or whatever else, it’s frustrating, but I think it’s a good lesson to learn to know that you’re putting your name on something and to make it as good as you can.
Analog: What’s your favorite Analog build?
Analog: How has Analog grown since you arrived and what do you see for the future?
Grant: We’re always talking about how the business is growing. We launched our parts and apparel division Analog Motor Goods and that has really taken off – especially this year. We have two brands to manage now and we are hoping that Motor Goods grows even more this year.
It’s not a measure of the success necessarily, but we’ve grown our Instagram following more than 10 times from just under 2,000 followers to almost 30,000.
Everyone is looking forward to the future of Analog – building more bikes per year, offering more products, doing more videos, etc. I’d love to be able to do this kind of work more and be able to commit more time to making better videos, photos, and content for Analog.
Analog: What are you looking forward to in the coming year with Analog?
Grant: We’re gearing up to go to The Handbuilt show again in April. We are going to bring our bikes down to do some riding in Austin, so I’m really looking forward to that. I think it will be a fun time. The other thing is that I’m hoping that my own project that I’m working on will be rideable sometime this season, hopefully before it snows. I got an XS650 from Tony in a trade for work arrangement and I’ve been slowly gathering parts and doing work to it. Tony has graciously offered me some advice for the build and I’m hoping when it comes time he’ll be able to help me finish it off and put just a fraction of the Analog spin on it. Hopefully, I’ll have a working bike that I can take to some of the events this year, or if not this year, at least ride it and bring it to some of the events next year on my own as opposed to having to beg borrow and steal to ride someone elses bikes.