Spotlight: Naoki Gaman

Naoki has the kind of energy that’s uplifting, bubbly and fun, and as riders, not only do we look forward to seeing her around the world, but we also hope to be captured in her lenses. Naoki has a photography style that is easily identifiable. She’s able to capture not only candid moments but also perfectly timed action shots. Today we’re interviewing our photographer, Naoki Gaman!

Firstly how are you doing in Japan right now, what’s life looking like where you are?

Naoki: In Japan, infected people are added every day, especially in larger cities. As a measure against the spread of COVID-19, Japan had a declaration of a state of emergency. First, it was declared to some big city areas and recently applied nationwide. Japanese law doesn’t allow a complete lockdown, but we must stay home as much as possible.

My house is in the countryside, and the number of infected people is small. But it’s a crazy situation that I have never experienced before, they even canceled the very very famous local Cherry Blossom Festival and Summer Festival. My family and friends are staying positive, thinking about what they can do, enjoying as much as possible while STAYING HOME. However, at this moment, many people still suffer from the virus, and it’s a serious situation for medical personnel and shipping company staff, and many people are unable to work. I hope this situation will end as soon as possible.
わたしの家は田舎なので、感染者数も少なく混乱はしていませんが、とても有名な桜祭りや夏祭りの中止が発表され、今まで経験したことのないようなクレイジーな状況です。私の家族や友人は今何ができるかを考え、STAY HOMEな日々をできる限りポジティブに楽しんでいます。しかしながら、今この瞬間もウィルスにより苦しんでいる人がいて、医療に携わる方々や運送会社などは本当に大変な状況だし、いつものように仕事ができない人々もたくさんいます。早くこの状況が改善されることを祈ります。

How did your interest in photography start? What was your first camera?

Naoki:  I’ve been interested in art and design since I was a kid, and now I’m working in web design and graphic design. Sometimes I also draw. So, I started to take on photography naturally. I started with disposable cameras and film compact cameras when I was in junior high school and when I was a high school student, I used mobile phone cameras, iPhones, and digital compact cameras, and finally DSLRs. My first DSLR camera was a Canon 70D. I didn’t use DSLRs so much at first because it was heavy, big and difficult to use. I started to use DSLRs in earnest when I was asked to take pictures by my graphic design client. In that job, I visited more than 50 restaurants, photographed food and restaurant buildings, often in about a couple of weeks. I took a lot of food because it lasted a couple of years. It was very hard, but it was a great experience.

How about BMX?

I’ve been taking BMX photos for a long time, but I started shooting BMX with a DSLR camera after learning manual shooting at a workshop by a Japanese professional photographer Yuta Yoshida, who takes a lot of cool BMX photos. I respect him!

How were you pulled into the BMX world?

Naoki: I fell in love with BMX at first sight.  
I found BMX by luck in a fashion magazine when I was a student. I think BMX is really cool. 
I can’t express it well. It’s more than words I can describe. I didn’t have money at that time so I couldn’t buy a BMX, but after graduating I saved enough money and bought my first one in 2005. It was a FEDERAL complete. I’ve been riding since then. In my area, I can’t ride BMX because there is a lot of snow in the winter, so I enjoy Snowscooting locally and sometimes I go to other prefectures to take photos and ride BMX. Snowscoot is less scary than BMX, so I practice tricks. Recently I was practicing X-up and tabletops. I want to be able to do that with BMX. Lol

End of May 2016 I decided to go to the USA. It was my long-standing dream. I arrived in Austin, TX with my BMX and camera. I went because my friend Minato Oike was invited to the Xgames Women’s Demo. I think it was a special opportunity and I wanted to shoot some photos and videos for her. And I just wanted to go to the USA, and I felt I should go. I met a lot of awesome women BMX riders there, and I took many photos of them riding and their lifestyle. Since then, I have been taking photos every year abroad countries, and that chance is increasing year by year.

From looking at your Instagram, you’ve been to some really cool places! Up until today, what was the coolest trip you’ve been on to shoot?

Naoki: Ummm I can’t choose because every trip was super cool!! If I had to choose, the road trip from Austin to Huntington Beach with Nina and Dani in 2018, and the European road trip with Angie and Perris in 2019 were my favorites. I was able to visit various parks in Colorado on the USA trip, meet local riders, and was impressed by the magnificent nature of Utah. Camping was fun too! And I met Elvis in Las Vegas. LOL. In Europe, I got to see some of the most famous tourist destinations, that I’ve only seen in textbooks and magazines, and EuroCamp was amazing. The special English pronunciation training and slang lessons that were done on the road were also the best. Snake Legs!! Road trips were really amazing! I wanna go again! I also really enjoyed awesome days in California last year at Jesse’s house.
強いて言えば、2018年にNina&Daniとオースティンからハンティントンビーチまでを旅したロードトリップと、去年Angie&Perrisと行ったヨーロッパトリップかな。USAトリップではコロラドの色々なパークにも行けてローカルライダーにも会えたし、ユタの雄大な自然にも感動しました。キャンプも楽しかった!ラスベガスでエルビスにも会ったよ笑 ヨーロッパは教科書や雑誌で見た有名な観光地にも行けたし、EuroCampもすごかった。移動中の車内でやってた英語発音特訓とスラング教室も最高だった。Snake Legs!ロードトリップまた行きたい!それから、昨年Jesseの家で過ごしたカリフォルニアでの日々も本当に楽しかったです。

What are you shooting with now?


  • Canon 5D mark4
  • Canon 70-200 f4
  • Sigma 15mm f2.8
  • Canon 24-105 f4
  • Canon 50mm f1.8
  • Godox strobe
  • GoPro

I use a Canon 5D mark4 mainly since 2018. I use one more camera when shooting a competition. I used the Canon 70D that I bought for the first time before, but recently it’s not feeling good, so sometimes I rent a camera. I want a new full-size DSLR camera by the time I shoot the next competition. LOL
2018年からCanon 5D mark4をメインカメラとして使用しています。大会の撮影時は、もうひとつカメラを使います。以前は初めて購入したCanon 70Dを使用していましたが、最近調子が悪くなったので、レンタルカメラを借りたりしています。次に大会を撮影する時までに、新しいフルサイズのカメラが欲しいです。笑

For lenses, I use a Canon 70-200 f4 or Sigma 15mm f2.8 the most. I’ll also borrow a Canon 8-15 fisheye. It’s great! I want a lot, but first of all, I want to change the f4 to something brighter! I have rented a Canon 7D and 70-200 f2.8 owned by Japanese BMX distro Jykk Japan many times in 2019. Thank you Jykk Japan!
そしてレンズは、Canon 70-200 f4、Sigma 15mm f2.8を一番多く使っています。Canonの8-15フィッシュアイを借りたこともあります。それもすごくよかった!欲しい物がたくさんですが、まずはf4のものをもっと明るいものに変えたいです!2019年は、日本のBMX代理店Jykk Japanが持っているCanon 7Dやf2.8の70-200を何度も貸してもらいました。ありがとうJykk Japan!

For strobes, I’m using Godox. I still need to work on lighting, but first I have to buy one more strobe!! I also carry a GoPro that I received as a gift for my shooting work, and sometimes I make short videos.

What would you recommend for someone who is just starting photography, what’s a good low – mid-range camera to shoot action sports?

Naoki: I think any camera can be used if we can take photos in a place with sufficient brightness. I used to take a dirt jump with my mobile phone camera. If you want to buy a DSLR camera for shooting action sports, I recommend the Canon 7D. If you have enough money, 7D mark2 is even better! The 7D series has a large number of frames for burst shooting, it is suitable for sports photography. I don’t do burst shooting much, but I think it’s convenient to have a camera with excellent burst shooting functions.
明るさが十分な場所で撮るのであればカメラはどんなものでも良いと私は思います。わたしも以前は携帯電話のカメラでダートジャンプを撮ったりもしていました。アクションスポーツを撮影するために一眼レフを買うなら、Canon 7Dをお勧めします。十分な資金があるなら、7D mark2だとさらにGood!!7Dシリーズは連写のコマ数が多いので、スポーツ撮影に適しています。わたしはあまり連写をしないのですが、連写機能が優れているカメラがあると便利だと思います。

Do you shoot raw and then edit in photoshop? What’s your process like?

Naoki: I always shoot raw and then edit in Lightroom. I used Photoshop at first, but Lightroom is more efficient. I have prepared my own presets too, so I apply it to all of the photos and then fine adjustments afterward. I don’t know if it’s correct because I learned about editing by myself, but it’s fun to edit.
いつもRawで撮影してからLightroomで現像しています。はじめはPhotoshopを使っていたけど、Lightroomのほうが効率が良いです。あらかじめ自分オリジナルのプリセットを用意しているので、それを全部に適応させてから微調整しています。 独学なので正しいのかどうかはわからないけど、現像も楽しいです。

What has been your most difficult photography project and why?

Naoki: To shoot high rotation tricks and combo tricks. In many cases, just capturing a moment does not convey the awesomeness, so I shoot them by bursts and make them into sequence images later.

What is it like to shoot during a UCI event? Do you get to keep the media vest?

Naoki: I took photos at the UCI World Championship for the first time in 2019. I’ve heard that it’s very difficult to get permission to shoot at the World Championships, but thanks to The Bloom’s recommendation, I was able to get in smoothly. Thank you! Many thanks to the UCI BMX Freestyle for the permission. I thought I wouldn’t be allowed to shoot inside the park, but I was able to get a wristband to enter the park. I was really happy when two of the official photographers of FISE, The Agency Photo, brought me my wristband. It’s been a really good experience to be able to take photos at the same place as great photographers and videographers around the world, not just at UCI, but at every event. Everyone is kind and I really appreciate it.
2019年に初めてUCI世界選手権に行って撮影をしました。 世界選手権での撮影許可を得るのはとても難しいと聞いていたけど、Bloomが推薦状を出してくれたおかげでスムーズに撮影許可をゲットできました。ありがとう! 許可をくれたUCI BMX Freestyleにも本当に感謝しています。 パークの中に入っての撮影は許可されないだろうと思っていたけど、パーク内に入るためのリストバンドも受け取ることができました。 FISEのオフィシャルフォトグラファーでもあるThe Agency Photoの2人がわたしのリストバンドを持ってきてくれた時は本当に感激しました。 UCIだけでなく全てのイベントで、世界中の素晴らしいフォトグラファーやフィルマー達と同じ場所で写真を撮ることができて、本当に良い経験になっています。

The World Championships was a big contest, and the riders and staff were regulars, and Cory’s fashion was nice, so I was able to relax and shoot. I was very busy because I was covering both park and flatland, but it was really nice to be able to shoot flatland for once since they often have overlapping time schedules at FISE. I’m happy that UCI BMX Freestyle sometimes will post photos I took on Instagram. I don’t know if I can get that media vest again, but I plan to try again. UCI BMX Freestyle, please! Also, I was only allowed to access the park inside only during the Women’s competition at FISE, so I would like to be able to access the park inside when Men’s competition someday.
今でもUCI BMX Freestyleが時々写真をInstagramにポストしてくれてとても嬉しいです。
メディアベストを次回も取得できるかはわからないけど、次回も行くつもりです。…UCI BMX Freestyleさん、お願いします!

Where would you like to take your career in the next 5 years? Any special projects you’d like to be involved in or places you’d like to go to shoot?

Naoki: Working with The Bloom is so much fun and great, I want to continue and grow with it. I still need to study photography, but I want to keep enjoying the best moments and expressions of the riders while having fun. Now I’m editing photos from the 2019 European trip as the second part of my photo book. It’s been three years since the first book, and I want to release it once a year moving forward. Also, I recently started a website called 81BMX – a Japanese BMX media. There are few public skateparks in Japan. There is no public skatepark in my city either. So I would like to build a skatepark in my city someday, and I would like to do something to grow the BMX scene in Japan. A special project … seems to be quite difficult, but I wanna shoot in the Olympics for BMX and I wanna do a trip just to shoot. I also want to work with VANS one day! I think I want to go to South America which I have never been to! And Spain! It was a lot of fun being in Madrid and being guided by female rider Sivi, who was introduced to me by Teresa.

The Bloom BMXと一緒に仕事をするのはとても楽しいし素晴らしいので、継続し、成長させていきたいです。

Quick Questions – Don’t think too hard, think fast.
クイッククエスチョン – 難しく考えず直感で答えて!

  • Your favorite city to travel to: Austin & California & Estonia Tallinn!!
  • Least favorite city to travel to: Nothing. I can have fun anywhere!!
  • Your favorite food from around the world, and who makes the best version of it?: Jesse mom’s Cajun food!! And Cap’n Crunch lol.
  • Your favorite rider to shoot: All riders!! And judges, MC, the family of riders, staff, and dogs. (Leo, Jana, and more)
  • Where do you want to go when traveling is permitted?: U.S.A!! Come on baby America!!
    旅行が許可されたらどこに行きたいですか?:U.S.A!! カーモンベイビーアメリカ!
  • One thing you have to bring with you from home when you’re traveling, not including your camera: BMX!
  • Favorite event to shoot: VANS BMX Pro Cup & SimpleSession!! And I wanna go to FISE Montpellier again because the crowd was amazing!! I’m interested in Swamp Fest too.
    撮影するのにお気に入りのイベントは?:VANS BMX Pro CupとSimpleSession!! と、FISEモンペリエの観客がすごかったのでまた行きたい。Swamp Festにも興味がある。
  • Worst instagram filter: I can’t answer because I don’t use instagram filter.

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