From The Archives
Volume 3 Issue 4 Winter 2019/2020 “Chicago”
Brian Kachinsky on: This Large Drop, Photo vs. Video, and What He Loves About Chicago
Interview by Nick Ferreira
Photographs by Tim Burkhart
Brian Kachinsky by Tim Burkhart
This potential drop is extremely insane. For someone like me who would never ever even think of putting my bike up on that ledge, what gets you excited to even think about riding something like this?
I like to test myself. Growing up, some of my favorite riders (Dave Freimuth for example) took some basic tricks to new levels. Something as simple as a nosepick, when done on a huge sub, offers some new challenges to the same trick you’ve mastered on something small and inconsequential. I always loved this aspect and to me it feels like the natural next step. My thoughts with this one were “Ok, I’ve over-smithed flat rails hundreds of times but can I do it when I really really need to. Can I do it under pressure when failure isn’t an option?” The answer is often "YES," but it really tests your focus.
Can you set the scene for how this went down?
I’d noticed and pegged that same rail when riding with Timmy Theus in the days prior. I went home after the session and thought “I could probably smith that." The next nice day I hit up (Tim) Burkhart in the morning and said “Wanna shoot a smith grind before you go to work?” He agreed and we linked up around breakfast time. I’d warmed up with a few hops and 180s and then it was go-time. I remember getting up on the ledge and looking in the office buildings above. There were a few people peering down on me while on their coffee break and thinking “this will be an interesting lunch time story for them to tell.” I had a sense of urgency because I was scared and also didn’t want to get shut down by security. In a rush, I hopped and missed my back wheel and went into an accident crooked grind. Luckily my weight was over the “safe” side to the right and I slammed pretty hard onto my knee. Knowing it was going to hurt worse once the adrenaline was gone, I gave a thumbs up to Tim and got it done. I grinded for several feet longer than I expected. I was locked in! After a quick photo check with Tim, we bolted before anyone said anything. Mission accomplished and the day had officially begun with a bang.
In the end, you not only did a trick you’re hyped on or rode a motivating spot, but you have something to look back on.
One thing I’ve come to notice is that you seem not only particular, but invested in how your photos come out. When you see a spot/set-up, do you envision how it might be photographed?
Absolutely, having been riding and working with amazing photographers over the years, I’ve learned the hard way with many photos not turning out but also learned the easy way at times because someone so talented was behind the lens. I love offering suggestions of how to shoot a certain trick/set up but also like to respect the photographer’s vision as well. It’s a true partnership and a bond of trust is created after time. I love that partnership and shared sense of accomplishment. I’ve also taken some photography classes before and know some basic rules. Sometimes those basic rules don’t mean a damn thing when it comes to an appealing BMX photo but it doesn’t hurt to have the outside knowledge. In a nutshell the goal is to show the spot and the trick the best. If that’s accomplished, the rest is just details.
This photo is obviously nuts and even people who don’t ride would agree it’s wild. But you also often counter this with relatable spots/set-ups that just look good photographed. How important is the photography of your riding?
It’s important for the memories and human bond that I mentioned above. It’s the perfect scenario to collaborate and create something, together. The sum is greater than the individual parts. In the end, you not only did a trick you’re hyped on or rode a motivating spot, but you have something to look back on. That moment of satisfaction is prolonged, solidified and no longer just a fleeting joy.
When I see an interesting photo or cool looking spot, that immediately sparks the urge to ride my bike. The urge is the foundation of why we do this. Spreading that feeling and motivation through a photo I created, feels worthwhile.
Do you think video and photo hold equal weight?
I think it’s equal and just depends on what the spot/scenario is. Both require teamwork and talent on both sides. A photo is something I’ll likely look at for longer. When there is no motion to distract your vision, you can focus on more detail in the image, surroundings, spot analysis, etc. Video is better for telling the “riding-specific story” and documenting aspects like speed and sounds. I love a good sounding clip. Music to my BMX ears.
What’s your favorite non-riding aspect to Chicago?
My favorite non-riding aspect of Chicago is the energy of the city. The diverse population of people, from all walks of life and backgrounds, is incredibly motivating to me. I constantly meet people who are movers and shakers in their own passion or industry. I feel like this is a little different from NY or LA (which are both amazing cities) because people don’t generally move to Chicago to “make it” or “get noticed." Chicago attracts talent, no doubt about that, but I feel like it’s less pretentious than those other major US cities. Chicago’s history, class, and grit make it a world class city that still retains some “Midwest niceness.” I appreciate that modesty coupled with the fast pace and evolution. ︎