Someone online recently posed the question of what our motivation is when we post on social media. I started thinking a little past that and started trying to put into words.. why I write and photograph at all.
I was never really interested in old motorcycles. They were.. old. Old ideas. Old mechanicals. Just.. old. So several years ago, when I went to the Wheels Through Time museum in Maggie Valley, North Carolina, it was only because others were going. And I needed something to do. I really expected more of a novelty than a good time. “Yeah, yeah. Vintage motorcycles. Well.. at least they’re motorcycles.”
I ended up falling in love with the place and growing an appreciation for those old machines. For me, at first, it wasn’t really so much about the motorcycles, as the stories behind the motorcycles. THOSE were fascinating! The motorcycles.. and the museum.. grew on me. Wheels Through Time is loaded with stories. I’m sure I’ll never know them all. I’d have to move there and live at the museum (which wouldn’t be the worst life plan I could come up with). But there was no question in my mind as to what captured my attention. The stories!
While a love for old motorcycles is fairly new to me, I was always a huge fan of the earlier days of motorcycling. I read books. I look at pictures. I enjoy hearing the stories about the ones that went before. I absorb them like a sponge. Everything from WWII to the mid 70s. I find myself nostalgic for days I didn’t live in. Admittedly, I may be romanticizing them a bit but they ARE great stories. In my conversations with other bikers, it’s always the stories that draw me in right away.
I always knew of the power of books to transport us to other times and places. To allow us to meet people we otherwise wouldn’t know. At the risk of them forming their own opinions, I greatly encouraged my kids to read when they were growing up. I love stories. In another time, I can imagine that I’d be the storyteller. Or a hired goat farmer. But preferably a storyteller, passing on news or some historical event through a story. A historian of heritage.
Having never had any interest whatsoever in my family history, I didn’t pursue any of it until the past year or two. The past has passed, right? For one reason or another, I started tracking some of it down and I found I was immediately drawn to the stories. The history. I even got drawn into the stories of some people who weren’t even related to me.
I love stories, which explains why I can ride by an old, overgrown house along the road and spend the next 30 minutes imagining the life that house had. Did kids run around in the yard? Was it built by some guy making a home for his bride? What was their story? How did they fall in love? What did he do for a living? What kind of tragedy did they face? And does anyone else think about them now? Does anyone actually “look” for that house?
The perfect photograph, in my opinion, is similar in that it transports you to another place or tells a story. I heard someone say that a good picture is one that makes you stop. When it comes to taking pictures, this idea of telling a story with a picture is an area where I’m trying to improve. I want to move from just taking a picture to telling a story with a picture. I’m working on it but it does take a different mindset. It’s a skill that needs to be developed.
There are a lot of ways a picture can tell a story. For that biker, it can be his time on the road and the thousands of stories he carries behind his eyes. The pinnacle of “biker photography” for me is when I can show that lifestyle with it’s variations of freedom and restlessness, solitude and unity, wanderlust and love of the road. It’s my way of showing others something I love.
Bringing out the best of something doesn’t stop at motorcycles. Regardless of what may be on the nightly news, we live in an amazing world. If I can share that with someone else, that's a good day.
I don’t do much portraiture photography.. yet.. but believe in the importance a picture can have. It can capture joy, beauty and love. In a moment, it can put someone at the center of the world and capture how special they are.
Overall, I want to create art and entertainment. In the process, I want to lift people up and give them an opportunity to tune out the everyday for at least just a moment. To show them something beautiful.. or amazing.. or inspiring. On the best day, that beautiful, amazing, inspiring thing would be.. them. And their story.
I LOVE stories. Especially sharing them.