A few years ago, Jordan Hoover poked his head into VOID HQ in Jax Beach. He introduced himself and handed me a couple volumes of Document, a glossy, thick-paper-stock zine of black-and-white photographs and bold courier text, all of which was centered around a scene with which I had little familiarity: Motocross racing.
The action shots were lively: mud-caked riders throwing rooster tails of dirt. The portraits were top-notch, uniquely framed captures of distinctive characters. Sprinkled in were a handful of abstract snaps: a closeup of parallel tire tracks on the incline of a dirt mound, the blurry geometry of a chain-link fence.
Though I might have remained in the dark on many of the intricacies of dirt-bike racing, I’ll be damned if Hoover’s images didn’t make it look freakin’ cool. Through Hoover’s lens it’s a pastime full of characters, motion and emotion and one that provides ample opportunities for self-expression.
A short-time after he’d dropped off his zines, I saw Hoover snapping photos at a music show. Or, rather: I noticed Hoover snapping photos at a show. It’s likely I’d seen him before. But, as I’d learn, Hoover’s immersive, incognito approach to photography renders him more just-another-face-in-the-crowd than camera-wielding-view-obstructor.
“I’m there to see the show and I definitely don’t want to be the photographer who is in the way,” says Hoover, who estimates that, when he was taking photos a recent show headlined by Miami-garage trio Jacuzzi Boys: “I jumped off the stage as many times as I snapped a picture.”
“I prefer to shoot film because it doesn’t take you away from the experience,” he says. “With digital [cameras] you just get lost shooting and then looking at your sh**.”
Hoover’s live show captures parallel his view of motocross, training his lens on faces in the crowd, pedal boards and set-lists, the unremarkable moments of a performance–clicking a footswitch or changing out guitars.
“I have some good photos of front-people, but my photos of drummers f***in’ suck,” he says, laughing. “I don’t know where to go and I don’t want to get on stage.”
Motocross was Hoover’s first love; he started riding when he was a preteen. He was sponsored and competing in professional races a short time later. Music came soon after when he began tagging along to punk and hardcore shows with his older brother, who was heavily involved in Orlando’s straight-edge scene.
“The dirt bike world was always a super aggressive place––competitive, lots of energy. Once I started going to hardcore shows, it felt like the same thing; just the people were way cooler,” Hoover says of having his feet in two worlds at such a young age. “When you’re competing [in motocross] everyone hates each other. At music shows, you get knocked down and people pick you up instead of riding right by you in the dirt.”
Hoover had fostered an early interest in photography and videography through skateboarding. After an injury quelled his motocross ambitions, he parlayed his relationship with Fox Racing, his longtime sponsor, into a position on the brand-marketing side, mostly shooting video at races. That’s when he started bringing his film camera along.
He’s developed a preference for Ilford HP5 black-and-white filmstock, with the caveat that he’ll “shoot with whatever.”
“The biggest appeal is the look of film,” he says. “You don’t have to do anything to it; no editing at all. Just shoot and enjoy.”
To see more of Hoover’s photography, follow him on Instagram @jordanhoov
This feature originally appeared in Void Magazine’s July 2021 issue.