An interview with Carl Hensel, "The Image Guy" | Johnny Reb Herald #007

For this month's edition of the 'Johnny Reb Herald', it was a pleasure to interview “Carl Hensel The Image Guy”. A very talented photographer & rider from Newcastle. 

Tell us a bit about yourself. 
I like fresh food, crisp Autumn mornings and fishing 


and I also like to slip the clutch at three grand on my 200hp ninja, light the arse end up and launch in to a kick arse wheelstand :) 

I feel blessed to be still alive after a lifetime on bikes and I wake up each day and go “Hell Yes!!!  Here we go again!”

I bought my first camera when I was just 11 years old and it has been my chosen path ever since.  I have been very lucky to have had a long and successful career as an image maker… very lucky :)

Over the years, I have created every imaginable style of image, but my main focus now is the Aussie Biker Scene, with a series of images called “Carl’s Garage”

I built a 1950’s garage set in to my studio and I have shot some of the most amazing bikes, from the humble postie bike to italian superbikes, home made choppers to gold plated Cholos, you name it I have shot it :) ….  but it is the people in this series, that make it special… they are all so wonderfully different. Each with a different story, a different path.

They arrive at my studio, we talk bikes, I take pictures and then we talk bikes some more, then I take some more pictures… it is awesome and one day, I hope to publish these images as a stunning book :)

You can follow this series as I create it on my Facebook page “Carl Hensel the Image Guy”. Click here to check out Carl's Facebook!

What’s your favourite part of your job?  Making people smile :) I love creating cool images for people and when all is said and done, when my mortgage is paid and my children have flown the coop, I will continue to make images … until I can no more. It is a magical process and I am just as excited now about creating images, as I was as an eleven year old, inside my wardrobe loading black and white film into a tank for processing, with my sister holding a blanket up over the crack in the door, to keep the light out :)

When did you start riding motorcycles and what made you start riding? 16 years and 9 months 4 hours and 35 seconds… the motor registry opened and I was the first person in the door….”sign me up I want to ride” I said!  My mates were all a year older than me and already riding and I wanted in :)

What bike do you ride now? I have a 1200 Bonnie, a ZX14 and my pride and joy… a 1977 Z1000 that I have owned for 38 years.  I ride them hard and I ride them often… I am a little mean to the Bonnie as she gets a workout when we ride, probably not the normal treatment they get. But she copes well.

What was your first bike? A 1979 Honda CB250T…. I loved that bike and some mongrel stole it from me and took it in to the bush and set it on fire… I still have a piece of it’s melted alloy case, that I picked from the embers

Where is your favourite place to ride? Currently, it is an awesome stretch of tar, known affectionately as the Magic Miles.  99 corners in just ten miles….sweet smooth hot mix from edge to edge… a truly incredible strip of road.   I rise early… it is 102.8kms to the very first corner, I do ten passes of the magic miles, 1000 corners in total… then I turn for home… completely satisfied… tyres melted edge to edge, my Johnny Rebs, chamfered on the edges and a huge smile on my face. 

Tell us your favorite riding story or fondest riding memory? It is hard to pick one…The Easter Bike Grand Prix at Bathurst each year was always a great run, I was there for both riots… but that was more about the destination and not the ride…. in recent times, when I go riding with my brothers and we are all on our classic Zeds, close enough to hear each others note, gear changes in sync, bikes on full song… that is pretty hard to beat.  There is something very special about these bikes… crap brakes, terrible handling, frame flex at speed… but when you ride them, you are really riding them, if you know what I mean…. you twist the throttle and hang on!…. :)

No anti dive suspension, no ABS and certainly no traction control…. just an engine on two skinny arsed wheels and a whole lot of history! Every ride on this bike is a great memory!

Who do you enjoy riding with? The above question kind of covered that… I have a small handful of brothers, we have nothing to prove and everything to enjoy.  We all have hyper bikes as well, but when we ride our Zeds… well … I have already talked about that :)

Name one dream place you’d love to ride that you haven’t been yet? Not big on travel, so no overseas destination curls my whiskers, I haven’t ridden Tassie yet but plan to one day.

Why do you ride motorcycles? Some can… some can’t, simple really. Bit like growing beards :)

Click to view the ROGUE BOOTS

What do you wear when riding? When did you first hear of Johnny Reb? 
As much protective gear as possible because it bloody hurts when you hit the deck and I have a bit of experience at that!  Back in the day it was long football socks, pulled up and over the top of a pair of flying boots, then Rebs came on to the market and the switch was made… I have big feet… lol

Big wide feet

so triple E width rocks!

If you could go on a road trip with any 3 people in the world, who would they be and why? My Dad, lost him to Leukemia when I was just a young fella and I would love to have ridden with him.  He and his mates were in to bikes when they were young.

Below are some more of Carl's amazing images!





Myself & my Husband had the privilege of meeting Carl a few weeks ago for our photo shoot. From the time we arrived to the time we left was nothing more than Amazing. Carl captures the essence of you & your bike & with open arms his hospitality made you feel very welcome. Thank You xx

Sandy Harvey March 24, 2021

Great photographer , great rider and great bloke

Dave Kerry March 24, 2021

Thank You guys another great interview, I follow Carl on his facebook site and he does some terrific work. Keep up the interesting profiles, I look forward to them.

Cheers Mick

Mick Harris March 21, 2021

Way kool . STONE comes 2 mind 4 some reason ???

Ian Muller March 21, 2021

You will enjoy Tassie by the sounds of your interview. 99 bends near Queens Town, up through the centre via Poatina and then over the east side, St Mary’s Pass, St Helens and Weldborough to name a few. Enjoy.

Mario Halligan March 21, 2021

Real deal Carl. Talks the talk and walks the walk. Being a fellow rider with a similar passion for bikes, he seems to encapsulate it without much fanfare. I really enjoy his style and images. I too live to ride, I’ve been at it for over 45 years. Alas tho I can’t grow a beard 🤷🏻‍♂️….
Tony T

Tony T March 21, 2021

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