No one pays for landscapes. You need to photograph people.
Words of advice from my friend who had re-invented himself once upon a time: Carlo Ricci, Commercial photographer and motion director.
So here we are. An editorial project documenting Bob Cao & Alex Wiecke (Pantheon Moto) building a proof of concept Honda Rebel Motorcycle Scrambler Kit. An after market product designed to transform a Honda Rebel from that of a cruiser to the look of the more popular scrambler. I won’t lie, I don’t know enough about the difference, but I’m happy to learn.
Now, how does one go about carving their mark in a field as saturated in quality as photography? I suppose writing, finding my voice and documenting it publicly would be a good start. Carlo insisted that this venture ought to be tackled with absolute focus. So as I look around the landscape that is design and advertising, I ponder that kind of commitment. There is creative solace and rejuvenation in working a camera. It can also be an isolating experience, being in sole control of the process and the burden of outcome. It is similar to everything I know professionally, and yet so different.
The kids are alright.
I met Bob by chance. He works for Damon, a technology startup geared towards automating motorcycle accident avoidance. I can’t even begin to get into the particulars of what he does between 9 to 5, simply because I don’t understand them. But there are a lot of precision monitoring tools, a Unity3D simulator, and some high end motorcycles now parked in our shared studio space.
It was immediately clear that he is both a thinker and a doer. The first thing I heard about Bob, was the time he nearly required a finger amputation. Instead of wallowing at the prospect, he and a friend adept in bionics, started research on how to make a prosthetic finger that would do who knows what. Robocop is all I could imagine. This is the kind of person Bob is. Seemingly always on the go and always looking at what can be done, changed, or improved upon. Not loud, but his presence is known.
“We came into this project as engineers, not fabricators. Building something useful, as well as being compliant with motorcycle safety guidelines was paramount. We’re not fabricating for the sake of design aesthetics. Utility is everything.”
Alex is quiet and measured. Perhaps it is cliche, but Bob’s outgoing energy and Alex’s reserved demeanour compliment each other. This isn’t to miscast him as silent. Alex is quick to point out nuances of their build to me without my needing to ask. He explains why he is building a makeshift press (to quickly set foam to the new seat pan); considerations they have made in design approaches; and we also talk about life. I’m prone to rambling and he interjects thoughtfully and with patience.
I tease Alex about his presence on camera, only because I can empathize with him. I try and document what he’s doing from a distance, not wanting to interfere with the story. We all know when things are contrived. So either I stay in the shadows or stage with complete deliberation. Trying to live in the middle is fruitless.
The final hero shot.
All images © 2002- to the year we are currently in, Terry Dee.