While photographing a local festival in her hometown of Haccourt, Belgium, photographer Laure Geerts struck up a conversation with the president of a tight-knit biker club known as the Kurgans. After mentioning her curiosity about the club and her desire to take a few pictures of the members, she was invited to join the club for a drink.
Tattooed and with a shared love for the television program Sons of Anarchy, the Kurgans are, according to Geerts, more of a social club than one defined by a motorcycle or a bad-boy image. “The founder of the club told me one day that he spent more time sitting on a bar stool than on the saddle of his bike,” Geerts said. “All this is an excuse to be together, to have a busy social life.”
Geerts has spent roughly two years with the Kurgans, mostly celebrating birthdays and weddings, going out for a drink, or photographing their annual weekend event where they open their doors to other bike clubs. She slowly built up the club’s trust, but it wasn’t easy. In the beginning, she dealt with some of the men who were suspicious of her, asking if she were with the police—“They want to be discreet and not have problems,” she said—and women, who were suspicious she might be after their men. “It took a lot of time for that to disappear,” Geerts said about the women’s suspicions. “I had to come again and again, give them some good pictures, explain that I was just interested in their lifestyle.”
Geerts, who is currently showing a series about Belgian prisons, said she always tries to show a human side in her work. “I want to break the stigma that society has on people at the margins of society,” she said. She begins work on a series without preconceived ideas of how to present it, and she said she never truly feels a project is finished and always “leaves the door open to go back.”