Ambassador

Simon and Lisa Thomas

Share

Simon and Lisa Thomas (@2ridetheworld)are dynamic personalities with a passion for photography. The husband and wife team are recognized as a leading authorities in the motorcycling and adventure world. As self-confessed thrill seekers, Simon and Lisa are also professional photographers, writers, speakers, and motivators. They have spent years leading by example, inspiring audiences around the world to push past their comfort zones and to determine their own futures.

Q: What made you want to become a photographer?

A: In 2003 Lisa and I shut the door on our UK home and set out to ride around the world on our motorcycles. I’d never so much as even held a camera and Lisa had only taken snapshots. Lisa’s parents actually bought us our first camera a Fujifilm S3000 just the day before we left on our journey. The camera was state of the art back then, with 3 million megapixels, tiny by today's standards. To be honest I don’t think either of us set out to become photographers but we were so inspired by the landscapes we rode through, the staggering views, and the remarkable people that we met along the way, that we were driven to capture and share those experiences. Today we’re still passionate about sharing the beauty of our world with others and inspiring them to travel and feel the same.

Q: How and why are you using Lume Cubes in your work?

A: We both love the power and the subtlety of light, but being on motorcycles means any camera gear has to fit into two small tank bags that sit on our fuel tanks. We certainly don’t have the space for traditional flash units, lights or even reflectors. We’d pretty much given up on being able to carry anything that would allow us to light a scene until we found Lume Cube. Almost all our photographic work is impromptu, we shoot what we see and what inspires us and we’re rarely in the right place at the right time, so we use Lume Cube to help control the lighting. Normally our use of the Lume Cube is subtle; We’ll use Lume Cubes to add some light to a dark foreground if we’re shooting a dramatic sunrise or even use them underwater to light the shallow sandbanks under a pier at sunset. Recently we used two Lume Cubes to light up my bike in the foreground as we photographed the sunset over Apache Trail in Arizona. Without them, me and the bike would just have just been a silhouette.

Lume Cubes are also fantastic to add a soft light to portrait shots. They usually get a grin from the subject because they produce so much light from such a tiny unit.

Q: Who are you inspired by?

A: It’s funny but we don't actually know the works of many other photographers. Living on the road and working from our tent means we don’t have much opportunity to visit galleries or even browse the internet for inspiration. That said, we love Vincent Versace’s work and recently found Daniel Korden’s work. His locations, composition, and post-processing skills are inspiring.

Q: If you could only shoot with ONE lens-type for the rest of your life, which would it be? Fisheye, wide-angle, prime, zoom, macro, or a telephoto lens?

A: Lisa and I like a lens that can perform in any situation because we never know what we’re going to be shooting. We only carry a few lenses each so we’re used to shooting ‘without’ the luxury of diving into a box full of lenses. Lisa and I have been blown away by the clarity and the sharpness offered by the Fujifilm 16-55  f2.8 XF Zoom lens.  If we could only carry one lens this would probably be it. It’s an awesome piece of glass!

Q: What is your go-to camera?

A: Our go-to cameras are the mirrorless FUJIFILM X-T3’s. We worked with and shot Nikon’s for years and I still love my D3 but the X-T3’s and soon to be launched XT4’s offer that perfect mix of incredible image quality, matched with compact size body and light lenses. My X-T3 combined with my FUJIFILM f1.4 prime is barely bigger than my iPhone.  Perfect for capturing candid portraits shots while we stroll around Kathmandu in Nepal. Having that much power in a camera lens combo that slips into your pocket is awesome.

Q: Any advice for new photographers who are trying to follow in your footsteps?

A: Yeah, shoot what inspires you! I know it’s not original and we've all heard something similar before but really if you see something or someone that catches your attention then pull out the camera and get clicking. I wish we’d been more disciplined in our early years. We rode past so many great photo opportunities because we were exhausted, cold or felt intimidated by our surroundings, but I wish, looking back, that we would have grabbed our cameras and taken the time to capture those images. At the time we told ourselves “keep going, there will be a better scene around the corner” but in reality, the best photos are the ones you actually take, not the ones you wish you had taken but didn’t. A good photo taken today is better than a perfect shot you hope to take tomorrow. Does that make sense? Oh yeah, when it comes to portraiture, get way, way closer than you feel comfortable. It’ll make all the difference.

Q: What is the best part of your day?

A: Any part of when we’re riding our bikes and have a camera close to hand. Oh, you want something more specific? OK, setting out before sunrise, when our minds are racing, trying to imagine what the day has in store for us. We love the uncertainty of riding to an unknown horizon. The daydream stuff aside, we love flicking through the images shot during the day on the laptop and being excited as hopefully a few of them stand out as good or even great. It happens now and again.

Q: Coffee or tea?

A: We call coffee “morning medicine and the day can’t start without it. Lisa’s also a Tea girl, she just loves the stuff. You can take the girl out of England but not England out of the girl. Yep, that’s actually a real saying.

Q: What’s your favorite photo you’ve taken and why?

A: That’s an almost impossible to answer that question. You know that right!? Here are a few that come to mind; I took a shot of us both sat on our bikes, on the second highest plateau on earth. We were starting our riding day, it was 6:30 am and we were at 16,500 feet. We were exhausted, sipping thin air because of the altitude and it was so cold it was scary. I was using a Nikon D70 on a tripod and I had ten seconds (timer) to click the button and wadle (I was wearing every item of clothing I owned) back to my bike, before trying to throw my leg over the saddle and compose myself for the shot. By the 19th shot, yep 19, I’d invented new curse words, hated the camera and was arguing with Lisa so loudly, (she wanted me to keep trying), that we actually scared off half the feeding flamingos in the lagoon ahead of us. I have 19 shots of a stunning landscape ruined by my blurry arse, as I raced the camera to sit. We finally got this shot on the 20th attempt.

In Rajasthan, India, we were parked up and exploring Jaisalmer, or as it’s better known the Yellow City. It’s the world oldest continually inhabited fort town and carved entirely from sandstone. With sore feet and with over 1,000 shots already on the memory card, I spotted this old guard outside a small temple. His “lost in a moment” expression had me transfixed as I looked at him, his leathery skin, the lines and scars that made up his face and cataracts that he suffered and that gave his eyes their blueish tint, all had me wondering, what had his life been like? What had he done with his life? What choices had he faced how old was he? And, and a hundred other questions. He didn’t pose for the shot (everyone does), although I shared the photo on the screen afterward. I love the fact that I’ve captured him lost in his own thoughts.  I hope it begs you to ask questions too. Good photos should always ask the viewer to wonder.

Q: If you could photograph anything in the world (person, place, thing, etc), what would it be?

A: I’d love to photograph my wife riding her BMW F800GS into the Pamir Mountain Range and across the Silk Route. We’ve actually already ridden this incredible route but I didn’t come away with the images that I wanted. I knew that we could do better. We’d love to get ourselves and bikes to Antarctica. It’s been a goal to ride on all seven continents since our journey started back in 2003 and its the only continent we’ve not ridden. We’ve love to make that ride and photoshoot happen.

Q: What is your favorite thing about action and sports photography?

A: It’s great when everything comes together, aperture, ISO, composition and timing and you capture a shot that conveys real energy, movement, and excitement inside the walls of a stationary image.

Q: What is your least favorite thing about action and sports photography?

A: The amount of ho-hum shots that you have to go through, review and then delete while hunting for the magic shots that capture all I’ve mentioned above.

Q: Where is the next place that you want to shoot with Lume Cubes at and how would you use the Cubes?

A: We’re aiming to head back to the US and re-ride the Continental Divide Trail, it’s the worlds longest maintained off-road route and starts in Mexico and leads all the way up to Canada. We’ll be using the Lume Cube to create some magic camping and Milky Way Starscape shots. It’s brilliant to be able to control dozens of Lume Cubes from the App on our phone.

Q: Describe your photography style in 5 words.

A: Eclectic, dramatic, personal, inspired, lucky.

Q: You have done some amazing things in your life (completed a marathon, climbed in Yosemite and completed what should be a 3-day hike in the Grand Canyon in a single day). Where did you find the motivation to push your body to the limit?

A: Back in 1997 I was involved in a serious motorcycle accident that almost took off my lower right leg. Two years on my back in bed and five surgeries followed. The long term prognosis was bleak with Doctors warning me I’d always have a severe limp or have to rely on a wheelchair. I was determined to show them they were wrong and ended up putting myself through a ridiculous physiotherapy routine and went on to a full recovery. I learned a lot about accepting limits and that I was capable of more than others limited me to.

Contrary to popular belief, we’re not masochists, but we learned that when you push yourself mentally and physically you discover who you really are and where your boundaries are.  We actually thrive on challenges, more than we do success. It’s a great feeling to set out on a path that you feel might surpass what you are capable of, and then push past the pain, conquer yourself and achieve what you previously thought was out of reach. Remember, Life’s short, challenge yourself and don't accept no as an answer. Push yourself and you’ll be amazed at what you are capable of.

Q: When did you decide that you wanted to combine your love for motorcycles and photography? Where did you start?

A: Our journey started the moment we turned the key in the lock of the front door of our home (later sold to buy fuel) but I think we really started to feel that photography was the glue that held our journey together when we started to explore Africa. It’s still our favorite continent and a photographer's nirvana (India is a close second). Africa offers RAW unfiltered experiences, both good and bad and we both felt compelled to photograph and share our images and experiences. The color, grandeur, scale, and contrast of this continent make it the cradle of life. Riding and photographing Africa was life-changing and a ride that we’ll cherish to our deathbeds.  Crossing the Sahara Desert is still one of the achievements we’re most proud of.