I did what I thought I was supposed to do. Yes, after all these years, I still do this.
My nephew, the infamous Kman, races BMX. In fact, he is a total badass with a room full of trophies to show off his 65-pound prowess.
So I go to visit the family and find out I’ve landed on race night.
I have options.
I think to myself, “This is racing action, I’ve got to get that peak moment, I need a motor drive, long lens, etc,” so I grab the digital body and long lens and toss it in the truck.
And then, more out of reflex than anything else, I toss in the Blad.
The track is easy. A small place, and being Texas people are relaxed.
“Hey, my nephew is racing, can I stand in the middle of the track?”
“Sure, go ahead.”
And with a smoking gun the races begin.
I’m hammering away, motor drive humming, mirror clanging up and down. But I’m distracted. Not by something around me, but by something inside me.
“What am I going to do with these images?” I begin to ask.
“Do I really want to sit down and edit through all these motor sequences.”
“Why am I doing this?”
“Do I really want to archive these, label these, tag these, etc,etc?”
Don’t laugh, this is how my troubled mind works.
I began scrolling through the images on the camera, something I HATE doing. I know hate is a strong word, but it fits here. I DETEST looking at images right after. I think it completely KILLS the idea of being a photographer, BUT I CAN’T STOP MYSELF.
I’m like a total crack monkey with the preview window. I can’t stop. If I turn it off, I just turn it right back on. Hopeless.
I suddenly realized, with slight sadness, I had no interest in even looking at the images I was making. The images didnt’ feel like they were mine.
There were a dozen parents in the same area, all with similar gear, banging away. They probably had the exact same stuff, only of their mini-warriors. And I think there was even the dude that shoots every kid and uploads every single image online so that the one parent without their camera can buy a print.
“Well, I know my brother will like these, or my mom,” I said to myself, making excuses for the images, while I took a quick peak at the refreshment stand wondering what delicious treats they had hidden behind the counter.
I packed up the gear and headed for the car.
Right before burning dust in the parking lot I saw the Blad.
I loaded the relic and grabbed my dreaded tripod. Yes, my tripod, and headed out into the world I had just retreated from.
At least 10% of my mind was still thinking of the refreshment stand. I have to be honest.
Suddenly there were whispers around me.
“Honey, look at that guy with the old camera.” “What is he doing?” “Is he allowed in there?”
“Hey, dude, what the f%$# is that thing.” “Holy S%@#, haven’t seen one of those in a while.”
And suddenly I was in my own world. I could see again. I grunted and shuffled around the pit area like a deranged ape.
Things were clear. I dissected with my eyes, and then framed the pieces. A story began to build.
The kids in the pits were like ants invading an empire, merging in lines and shadow, with harsh artificial light painting their movements with razor sharp shadow. The sky was glowing.
Insects pierced the night. Colors were bright. The wind picked up. Darkness and light. Passion.
I don’t remember much of what was around me. I was “involved” let’s say. I was involved in a 6×6 space that started in my medulla oblongata and ended at the tip of an 80mm.
This was MY work. My mind. My vision. My moment. This was the work I need to be doing ALL THE TIME. All supplied by following the Kman.
I thought about history. I thought about family. I thought about the light. I thought about what these pictures would mean. I thought about who would have them in 100 years. I thought about Kman and what must be going through his mind.
I was away in that place that photographers go when they are working.
And then. Clunk. It was over.