Artist Spotlight: Simon Davidson

Simon Davidson is a leading Australian photographer with an affinity for muscle cars and burnout culture. His Burnout series highlights beauty in unexpected places. Catch his work on display on the SVLA1 screen in Downtown LA until March 11, 2018.

What is it about burnouts you initially found compelling and/or describe what brought you to focusing on this subject?

I’ve been a bit of an old car nut for years with a passion for chrome and steel from the 60s. This old car passion turned into a long term photographic project on the Australian muscle car scene.
Photographing at my first burnout competition the chaotic spectacle of old cars revving engines while generating crazy amounts of amounts was strangely addictive. My challenge was to find the quiet amongst the noise.

Describe the emotions you hope your viewers experience with your work?

I hope people are positively charged from looking at the beauty of the smoke and cars. There should be a sense of awe when looking at the photos.

What about burnout culture do you find most beautiful, unusual or universal?

What is beautiful and universal? The passion of the drivers, car builders and fans. What is unusual? The desire to make that much smoke.

Do you consider yourself a part of the subculture, or more of an artist in its presence?

I watched the scene grow and inadvertently helped that growth by filing many editorial stories in magazines over the years. Those stories helped fund the personal project.
As a photographer bearing witness you cannot help it to be part of the scene. You are a player in the theatre of life.
When I’m shooting the personal work – I’m the artist in residence.

When you’re out there shooting, what do you appreciate most about the experience…how would you describe this to someone who has no idea what it is? 

As a photographer you are privileged being able to stand close to the action. It’s the best seat in the house. You also get to know people closely and hear good and inspiring stories.
I would describe the experience as an assault on the senses. Extreme noise with an over abundance of acrid smoke and tire debris. I balance the chaos by wearing noise cancelling hearing protection. The visuals become more heightened.

Your photos are about more than just cars and smoke. In many, there is a raised fist or triumphant thumbs-up; it’s very human. There’s definite emotion there. What is it that you’re trying to convey about the burnout subculture?

What is it I’m trying to convey about the burnout subculture? There is beauty everywhere.


Visit Simon Davidson’s website and Instagram to see more of his work. Be sure to stop by the SVLA1 screen to see his photography on display until March 11th.