Last Sunday, I covered an event for the day job, the Green Ribbon Ride. "Thousands of motorcyclists, including more than 100 police from throughout New England, cruised through Monroe, shutting down Route 34 and Route 25 Sunday in part of a 30-mile, six-town ride to honor the memory of those killed in the Sandy Hook school shooting in December. All money raised will be paid directly to Newtown charities, including the Sandy Hook Family Healing Fund, Newtown Police Union, Newtown EMS, the five Newtown fire departments, local children’s charities, the Center for Women & Families and Al’s Angels. Crowds cheered riders, and held signs, and fire departments along the route hoisted flags from ladder trucks."
I was sent to the town of Monroe, but this event was traveling through several of the towns we cover. I decided to shoot this two ways: I wanted people to know that some of the shots were from Monroe, by the background and people in the photos, but I also wanted to take some photos that could be used in the other papers. It felt strange for me to be shooting in the day time with bright, beautiful sunlight. I've spent so much of my time late at night at poorly lit concerts, doing everything I can to come up with usable shots. I wanted to challenge myself in another way and get a photograph I hadn't seen in one of our papers before.
I set up by the 70 foot flag that was hoisted into the air between two fire trucks. Of course it was set up right by a mass of power lines, so I had fun attempting to keep those out of my shots.
I got the shots of the first motorcyclists driving under the flag.
Perfectly fine, clear shots, nothing too exciting.
As always, I brought along the SX-70 with me to take some analog shots. The first photo only partially developed. I didn't do anything differently with it, just a quirk of the film. In most cases, I'd consider this a ruined shot. I was going to use this pack of film to cover a concert festival, which probably would've caused me to curse at the wasted image. It just so happened that it captures the name of the event perfectly: Green Ribbon Ride. There's still one clear motorcyclist in the lower left of the shot. The second take came out slightly overexposed.
The energy of the cyclists was really special. They were waving and beeping their horns, many of them taking pictures with their own smart phones as they passed the crowds of people that came out to cheer them on.
I spoke to this couple after the ride had ended. Sharon and Norm Mercier have had this quilt on their front porch ever since the Newtown tragedy. Sharon explained to me with tears in her eyes how several big, burly bikers pointed at her then tapped their hearts as they passed.
The majority of my time was spent working on a specific shot. Stopping motion is fine, but it's such a static photograph. This event was full of life. It took a lot of patience and persistence, but the end result just might be my favorite photograph that I've taken to date.
Shot with 100mm macro lens at 1/30th of a second, f 32, ISO 200. A monopod was used to keep my camera level as I panned with the motorcycle.
I had originally thought this picture would look best cropped in, but I always hand in my photo assignments as shot. In this case, the editor, Jake, found a way to work with the dead space of the photo. He ran it as a massive 5 column shot, which, with the masthead, took up the majority of the paper above the fold. It printed beautifully on top of it; no easy feat considering how most photos look on newsprint. I couldn't be happier!