Knives and Bikes in Virginia City 

As me and my wife headed from the airport in Reno towards our hotel by Lake Tahoe, on the Nevada side, we decided to go through Virginia City. A vibrant mining town, packed with bikers and attitude.

The town claims to be one of the most haunted in the United States and as we drove up there, expecting a ghost town, motorcycles of all sizes and brands surrounded us. As a motorcycle lover myself, I was happy sharing the roads and being passed by choppers and customs while going up the narrow mountain roads through the Nevada desert.

My wife was more worried. 

As we arrived to Virginia City I made the executive decision to discontinue our journey towards our hotel until further notice. I needed to smell the exhaust fumes and enjoy the thrill of the rumble. We parked and I got my Fujifilm X100, a pocket camera perfect for discrete street photography. The first person I shot was a kind man with a dog in a sort of Baby Björn on his belly. 

Leather, sunglasses and a dog on your belly while admiring the custom bikes thundering by. Why not?

This first meeting gave me a boost and I decided to keep shooting people on the streets. Often when I do street photography I shoot from the hip, completely withouth consent. That did not seem like a sound decision when in an old mining town in Nevada, who knows who is packing? So I kept going, but asking first. 

I thanked my self later, after a man caught my eye. He had a big knife in his belt and he stood crooked at the entrence of one of the bars, beer in hand. His right knuckle scarred and bruised. I needed to take his picture and so I led with:

I like your knife! Where I come from you can’t carry knives publicly like that. Can I take a picture of it?

He slowly turned his head to me and I could not read his expression. Dark sunglasses covered his eyes and he did not move. He took a moment and then, without saying anything pulled out his knife, holding it by the blade. 

The hells Angels Fall Ball T-shirt, the battered knuckles and the stale expression made this guy someone I had to photograph.

“Is it OK?” I asked, a bit perplexed and slightly worried, to which he grunted something and gave me a nod. A very constrained and slow nod.

I took a few pictures and thanked him. I was a little unsure as to how to go about my departure so I stretched my hand forward to shake his.

What did he do? He extended his index finger and I shook it.

This biker proudly posed when I asked to take his picture. Or, he was already posed and just stood his ground.
With people looking as interesting as this it was not hard getting a good picture.

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