Photographer Travis Mortz is not scared to take numerous cameras to events, especially not frankenstein ones that he has made himself (more on that below)!

We’ve always championed different/original takes on things here at Defgrip, so when Travis mentioned to me that he had polaroids from Swampfest from a camera he made himself that produced interesting images that he was willing to contribute to Defgrip for this this batch of updates, I was all about it.

Click below for some “Frankenstax” pics, along with some words from Travis himself.

Big Boy

Corey Walsh

Trey Jones & Steve Crandall

Steve Crandall

Denim Cox

Erik Esltran

Garrett Byrnes

Jeff Z.

Jimmy Levan

Kelsey Jones

Leandro Moreira

Trey Jones and his car

Nasty dog chillin’

Sean Ricany


More fire

Shane Halahan

Van Homan & Garrett Byrnes

Tyrone Williams

This year was my first time making the pilgrimage to the swamp, last year I had a heavy feeling of missing out when I saw all the ramps burning at the end of the night and would not let that happen again. So we rounded up the boys from nor cal and made our way out to Florida with about 10 dudes. As with any BMX event I head out to photograph I decided to take my own approach on things, these days we all have a cell phone that shoots 4k held up for every waking moment to document our lives unfolding before us. It seems that we have all forgotten that the reason for photographs and videos is to reflect on these moments in the future, meanwhile we take all these Instagram stories of the moments that matter most only to forget them a week later. For me this event was an opportunity to add to my growing collection of instant photographs of today’s best BMX riders, I decided to bring my “frankenstax” (above) with me to Florida to capture the event on a tangible medium. Back in 2016 I built this camera out of necessity, I needed a camera with manual focus and a fast shutter speed in order to shoot sharp images of BMX. So I glued together parts of an old polaroid camera along with an instax wide back, slapped on a large format lens, calibrated the rangefinder and the rest is history.

Throughout the weekend I was walking around taking it all in and I spotted a shot of the merch booth, framed it up, focused my rangefinder and noticed a young kid smiling for the camera. At this moment I decided that this kid would appreciate this photo more than I would, as I ejected the image from the camera I handed him the photo and said here’s your memory from Swampfest. He was overjoyed while staring down at the photo developing in his hand and the people in line around him gathered around to see it come to life as well….ten minutes later I looped back around and still found him standing there staring at the photo I had given him. This moment made me realize the true impact of handing someone a photograph, this kid really understood the difference of a tangible image and he appreciated it. As the weekend progressed I ended up gifting 10-20 more images to people at the event and each person cherished their photos despite some of them being soft or poorly exposed. Although I wasn’t out there shooting the best digital camera and getting the sharpest images to put on my hard drive when I got home, I managed to come home with a box of 70+ instant photos from Swampfest and even sent some people home with photographs of their own.

Since I’ve started this film journey I have really felt the joy of sharing photography with the people around me, giving away a physical photograph to someone becomes a photo that I can never share with anybody else but that one person and to me that is something very special that an LCD screen can never offer. Above are a few of the photos I kept for myself so I can share them with you and with my children in twenty years from now. Enjoy.

– Travis Mortz


  1. KC Iwaniak says:

    This is so fucking sick! The true meaning of photography at its core is this right here! Getting back to more film photographs is something BMX needs, it ties that individuality feeling your bike gives you with photography perfectly in the sense no two film photos will ever be alike and their uniqueness makes it that much more special. Cannot wait for more of this!