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It may be cliche, but you really should carry a camera with you. Last night we were walking into my older child’s school. I saw the way the light spilled out from the open door, and noticed my youngest marching toward the door. I grabbed the camera, grabbed a quick setting, lowered the camera to waist level and waited for her to get to the floor mat.
Being ready and seeing the moment before it happens is something I try to develop.
$10 Portrait -
I was able to have a nice dinner tonight cooked by my wife. I was surrounded by my family and children, and we had a family sit-down dinner. I had the warmth of my home and more importantly a sense of being connected. The fog lead me out to shoot some of the lights of the plaza. That was where I met Pervis Nelson. He crossed the street as I walked along, and asked if the thing I was carrying wrapped in plastic was roses.
I told him it wasn’t, and he asked if he could talk to me for a moment. He explained that he was recently out of prison, and was trying to get his life going. He asked if I could help him out.
I looked at him and explained I would not “GIVE” him anything. However, he could earn something. He looked at me with a cocked head. I explained he could earn some money by letting me shoot his portrait. He asked again, “You are going to pay me for you taking my portrait.” I explained that I never thought anyone should have a hand-out, but he could earn the money. This was going to be a hand-up, not a hand-out. I explained he was a grown man, and he had a way to earn money.
He explained that he had done time for felony Domestic Violence charges. He said he never had any criminal history before that charge. I explained with his knowledge and his ability to talk, he should look into counseling or probation services. This would give him standing with the people he would be talking to.
We shuffled across the street to a business window I saw lit up. He said he didn’t know how I was going to do this. I assumed as it was dark and the air filled with fog. I had him slide up to the side of the window, lit by a strip of white LED’s.
Here was his $10.00 job… and my $10.00 portrait.
I was at Camp Creek Road, about 30 miles into the Dirty Kanza 2016. Just off to the left, was the downhill into a trickle of water. A rider flatted just after the water. She rolled up next to me as she was talking about having problems with fixing the rear. I told her I could help, but that would mean she would be DQ’d.
She looked at the rear wheel, and asked a couple of racers as they went by if they could help. About that time, a guy on a Single Speed pulled over and said he could help.
It wasn’t long before Dave Wilson had her fixed up and back on the route. This is what I love about the DK. A guy on his ride, willing to stop to help out another rider. I knew that she could receive help from inside the race. I knew that I could not help her without her risking not finishing.
I later saw her at the finish. She said she even had another rear flat… but this time she had one tire change under her belt and was able to finish the race.
Sportsmanship and the DK…
The feel of the Dirty Kanza 200 is something very special. I know I have told some of you about shooting it as a spectator, but without being there it is so hard to convey the feeling and emotion of the event. The emotions from riders, volunteers, and spectators flow through the collective group. I get goosebumps thinking about it. I also think emotions and connection reflect in the images I am able to create while there.
Getting lost in the moment. Feeling the cold mist at The Cattle Pens, and seeing the smiles on riders faces as they come by. This was what I saw when I shot the image that was selected for the cover of Kansas Outdoors. http://www.ksoutdoors.com/
I wanted to speak about shooting an event like this from the photographer’s point of view. First, I have to say without the acceptance of the event coordinators, this image would never have been made. Years ago, I asked for permission to shoot the event and was granted permission. From there, I have built connections with so many great athletes from this single event. As a photographer, the connection to subject is so vital. I also think that others can feel where you are coming from when making an image. If you come from a good place, you project that. I also have to say that an event like this, is my endurance event as well. Being engaged mentally for over 24 hours straight is taxing; however, I think the investment in time and emotion is tangible and sensed by the riders.
When I was contacted by the publishers for Kansas Outdoors, I can say that I was honored. I was honored for my chance to show what a local event looks like. I was honored with the ability to showcase an event to a state, national, and global audience by images I had taken. To other photographers, I would say this: assign a worth to your work. A value is assigned by you to your work by the amount of work put into an image. It is also assigned by what the image is. I equate this to the “Bigfoot” photo. Would a photograph that didn’t follow the rule of thirds, or leading lines, or was slightly out of focus be less valued if it was of a Bigfoot? Content adds value.
All of this is a cycle. You have to put yourself out there, so someone will see your work. If your work needs practice and honing, how do you know this if you don’t put it out there for others to see? Once it is out there and someone appreciates your work, how do you assign a value? I would ask for you to be realistic about it. How long have you been making images? What image resolution do your images have? What is the image of? What is the reach of the image to be?
We as a community of photographers have to work together and not against one another. We should support and trumpet each other so that the community gets better and stronger. Images become stronger, and we become better at our art.
Most people say that if you are shooting photographs, and the sun is high without any clouds… you better be shooting inside. I disagree. I think light is light, and it all depends on the subject matter. The Museum at Prairiefire is constructed with glistening colored panels that reflect differently in the light. I shot these at about 11:00 in the morning with a stark blue sky. I loved the change in the colors.