Always on the lookout out here for different perspectives and angles, and when we can get it, a peak behind the curtain for an event, process, etc. That’s exactly why I was excited to see Joe Viger’s blog post about a couple of shots he took of Nacho Hernando from the Granite State Snowshoe Championships.
With all the shots Joe takes, it’s easy to wonder just how he thins out the memory card to go from raw materials to finished product. What’s he looking for? What does it mean to him? In Joe’s words:
When ever make a photograph that I’m pleased with, I always look at it as a gift. It doesn’t matter what type of photograph it is. There’s a million examples. The sun aligned and the light was sweet on the field of lupine. The baby looked at the camera and smiled. The fall colors were peaking on the ridge as the morning fog burned off. The model looked up and let her soul shine through her eyes. These are all gifts that I’m fortunate enough to have recognized and preserved with my camera. I say thank you to the universe and feel filled with gratitude every time it happens. Mother Nature, the person, the weather… whatever… has given me something precious. As a photographer, I value what those photographs say and the feelings they inspire.
Nowhere is this idea more apparent to me than when I’m photographing sports. The athletes are generous with their gifts of winning, accomplishment, strength, endurance, inspiration and so much more. I always feel privileged to have these amazing people in front of my lens. I try hard to capture everything they are in 1/1000th of a second.
This past weekend I photographed the Granite State Snowshoe Championships. I made a lot of photos that I’m really happy with but two series of images stand out to me. In both frames, Nacho Hernando looked into my lens, showed me how he felt about his performance and gave me the chance to capture the story of the race. The image on the left was made in the first 10 minutes of the race and Nacho was in the lead. The photo on the right was about 35 minutes later and things had changed. Jim Johnson, the race winner, had passed two minutes before and Nacho was now in second. In both cases, whether he knew it or not, Nacho was giving me the photograph. And like all the images I make, I’m thankful for that.
Those two pics side by side tell the story all by themselves, but it’s still great to get Joe’s take on it. Reading that really struck a chord with me because I had been thinking of some photos that Joe had taken during the US Snowshoe Championships back on March 1st.
That race had beaten me up pretty badly and before we even finished the climbing that constituted the first half of the 10k race, my goose was cooked. Over 1,100 feet of snow covered climbing was probably 1,000 more feet than I was in shape for and I was (for all of you people familiar with a certain mountain race) in an Upper Walking Boss kind of distress. Only difference is that instead of being near the end, here I was only half way through (and on snowshoes).
Something clicked once I got onto the groomed ski trails taking us back down. Perhaps it had something to do with running by that husky that started howling (my power animal?), I don’t know, but my legs regained some strength, the competitive juices started flowing and I hauled ass down the mountain feeling GREAT. I was catching everybody in sight (and some that had been out of sight) and was just pumped up. I got to the bottom of the switchback, almost done, saw Joe taking his shots and made a gesture in the moment that I thought conveyed my feeling. This is what I thought I was doing in my head:
Yeah, not exactly close. That’s Nacho in the first one, and his doesn’t look as awkward. It’s hard to ham it up for the camera when you’re still not confident that you’re not going to trip over your own snowshoes as you try to surge toward a finish line on exhausted legs. It’s fun though; I highly recommend it. For a closer, side by side look: