I'm proud to announce that for the first time, OLP has been featured in a full page, nationally distributed magazine for personal-two-wheeled enthusiasts: Cycle World, viewed by hundreds of thousands of motorcyclists in the US.
As is my habit on this blog, it's story time. As you may recall, in April this past year, I made my way out to Savannah, GA, to capture a personal project of mine: the Scooter Cannonball Run 2012 participants as they departed for their 8 day epic journey across the United States, ending in San Diego, CA. Though I wanted to take portraits of riders, I also was excited about getting candids of the starting line - showing those same participants who had posed with their bike before actually embarking on their journey.
Many of the participants on this journey are close friends of mine, including Kristin, the subject of this picture. This was Kristin's first time doing the Cannonball, and I immediately related to her excitement, nervousness and go-get'er attitude as a past participant myself. Kristin was ready to prove herself (and did!), and her game face as she was strapping on her helmet and about to head out on the first day of the ride personified this to me. I caught the moment out of the corner of my eye and swung around, and fired off this shot (the original, which was cropped for the advertisement).
After Kristin's successful completion of the event, she saw the picture posted on this site and showed it to Aerostich, which set off a series of events resulting in this image being utilized not only on the Aerostich homepage, but also for a flyer insert for the AMA International Women & Motorcycling conference announcing Aerostich's upcoming line of women's fit riding gear. Our contact at Aerostich also mentioned that a full-sized print ad was a possibility, but timing was not clear. Imagine my surprise (and giddiness!) to open my newest issue of Cycle World and see the full-pager. Major thanks to Kristin and Kyle for your support, without either of you, this would never have happened. I am forever grateful for what you've done with this moment in time.
For those who are curious, this photograph was captured with a Nikon D700, with a Nikkor 50mm AF-S f/1.4G @ f/1.4, 1/80th, handheld with no flash. Though the D700 is my back-up, it was right for this shoot - providing me with a light-weight and portable full-frame that has solid low-light capabilities. This picture was taken just at dawn, so light levels were pretty low but the D700 handled it like the workhorse it is, stepping out of my way and allowing me to focus on my composition and capture of the moment.
I recently heard some sad news that got me thinking about the trade of photography, and while I don't normally like discussing personal material on my business site, I feel compelled to write on this particular topic.
As you may recall, in April of this year, I went to Savannah, Georgia for a personal project for OLP (see this post), shooting portraits of the Scooter Cannonball Run 2012 participants. The project itself was really a dual-purpose trip:
I recall quite clearly, on "Day 0" of Cannonball (the day before), a man walking up to me in the parking lot of Vespa Savannah, and asking if I was Oz, the guy doing the portraits. I nodded and he quite excitedly asked where to sign up. I told him that unfortunately, at that moment, I wasn't taking any more portraits - my primary flash had overheated and it would be quite a while before it cooled down in this heat. I told him I would be resuming portraits at the hotel, so get in touch with me there.
At the hotel, I realized I didn't have sufficient model releases, so I made my way to a Kinko's and got some more duplicated. By the time I came back, the Savannah sky had opened up, letting loose what felt like gallons of warm, unanticipated rain. I groaned to myself in my rental car, got irritated, unloaded my equipment, and just as I prepared to call it a day, the showers backed off and left a gorgeous sky background for me to shoot against - moody with waterlogged clouds with sunlight stabbing through, slivers and blades of light that can either destroy your metering or give you just that extra je ne sais quois, that pop.
The excited man, a Burgman rider, and his wife almost immediately approached me, the moment they caught me outside. My lights were cooled, in partial deconstruction, and I cautiously looked at the sky then decided to risk it. It's just camera equipment.
"Can I fill out one release for the two of us?" the man asked, and I nodded, fidgeting with my Pocketwizards. He signed his name, and his wife's... Stacey Stapleton. I took his form and smiled at him, and he tossed back a tentative grin that reminded me of what I had felt before when I participated in this event: excitement. Adventure. Anxiousness. The hope for rediscovering yourself.
We forcibly dragged his steed, often considered a land boat in such social spheres, into position around the lights, and he stood in front of the bike, hesitant, unsure what to do and where to stand. At this point I had been on for what felt like the whole day, but his enthusiasm was contagious and I was back to go-mode, and walked towards him as his wife Maria wheeled her Majesty behind my lights, waiting for her turn.
I took a moment to observe his frame, his stance, next to the bike, and suggested a slight lean against the saddle, bike on its side stand. Hand on the handle bar. Look up, but tilt your forehead slightly towards me, jaw out a bit, yes - that's it. Now pretend like we've known each other for more than approximately 38 seconds, as if we've shared a beer and - yes, that's it. Right. Good smile. That's the look we're going for. Let's keep going.
In the background, I could feel Maria smiling as Stacey's shoulders loosened and he fell into place. A few shots in, post review, it was clear that I had gotten what I needed and felt comfortable with putting my name against given the slowly mounting audience and line. Stacey smiled politely and thanked me, and we pushed his bike aside to make room for Maria. Bill, another Cannonball participant, quickly leaped in with a hammy pose I had to capture, and then it was all about Maria.
What I didn't realize between these two, is that Sergeant Major Stacey Lee Stapleton was a 24 year veteran of the US Army Special Forces, and was battling cancer. Time was waning down for him, and he and his lovely wife were taking this challenge on to gain a new perspective on life.
I was informed yesterday of Stacey's passing, and couldn't help but tear up as I learned of his circumstances. They hit home for me as a son of a cancer survivor as well as one who has fallen to the disease, but also in that you sometimes never know, as a photographer, what exactly it is you're capturing in those few precious moments you enter and leave someone's life. Sometimes you capture the people you know, and you get to watch their lives unfold over time and continue to watch them grow. Sometimes you see a person for a few minutes and that's it. The light they reflected from the world is sent to a sensor, digitized and written at 30MB/s, and the next time you see their face is when you edit the file. This may also be the last time they are in your life.
Life doesn't stop for them, though, even though your moment with them may be over. It keeps going, an adventure (as my friend Rich Glass would say, adventure is great discomfort told at leisure). We will all touch lives in ways we may not know or understand, and those lives may in turn touch others, and so forth. Stacey let me in to that moment with him for a few, and I would like to say I did not take it for granted. It added to my enjoyment of the task I had set out for myself, and the sense of accomplishment I had coming out of this highly personal project of mine.
I sent Maria the portraits of Stacey as soon as I heard the news and was able to access the original files. She mentioned she was going to display them at his Bon Voyage party, and the Cannonball experience was the first time he had truly been happy in a while.
Stacey left us with some words, after Cannonball:
Saying that I saw the country I served is an understatement. The reason I saw it was because of the people in this country. Without all of you, this would have never happened. Before, every thing I ever saw in my life always took me back to a place that it reminded me of. A rock face, Somalia or Afghanistan. A bottle on the road would be Honduras or Bosnia. You do so much in the name of freedom that it is actually the work of freedoms memories that confine you to just remember that moment, no matter what you are seeing.
Till now. Now sand beneath my boots will remind me of AZ, NM or California. A rock face won't take me back to a fire fight, it will take me to Box Canyon. This ride and all of you as you followed us have hit CTRL-ALT-DEL on my soul and rebooted my heart and mind to be present in my country, in my home and in my life.
And before I tear up again, everyone's comments and excitement was the best part of it all. I have never felt so loved. And I wore the very boots, that I have been deployed in for the last many years. The same soles on them have landed on nefarious ground. And those same soles, brought me home and across the land of my home
Thank you, Sergeant Major Stacey Lee Stapleton, for letting us share in you experience. You have had an adventure, and a journey. It was an honor to take your portrait.
After much toiling and trouble, the Scooter Cannonball Run 2012 Rider Portraits are finally up and available for purchase. Much like the Cannonball Run itself, these portraits were a labor of love. As a two time participant, I remember the sense of adventure, excitement, anxiety, and nervousness that came with the moments leading up to that starting line. It was a fascinating adventure being on the other end of that, as an observer of the rolling carnival that is Cannonball (and this was the largest SCBR since its inception in 2004).
You can find the whole set here.
Along with those, you will also find some candids available here. These were taken on the way to Cannonball, and in the preceding days. I am in progress of doing a pass through on these, including some starting line pictures that will also be available.
If you're curious about the making of these shots, you can see some "on the clock" shots here.
Thank you once again to everyone who supported this effort, and to the riders who put up with my jury-rigged light setup and complete lack of individual time. Over 30 riders came by to get their portraits taken, and we fought a variety of bad lighting conditions, bad backgrounds, goofy weather (e.g., sudden rain!), etc, to churn these out. This was an epic trip and I was glad to share my time with you all to provide you with a keepsake to remember your epic adventure.
-Oz, #26, 2008 (Vespa GT200L) & 2010 (Honda Ruckus 50)
A few weeks have gone by since OLP went to Savannah to take pictures of the Scooter Cannonball Run 2012, and life has unfortunately gotten a little bit out of our hands as of late. I'd go so far as to say that the goal was to have the portraits completed by a week ago (along with the Day 0 candids) - instead, they're about a third complete!
There were ~35 participants for the portraits, with over 160 shots taken, which have slowly been whittled down, with each rider having ~4 portraits each.
Cannonball participant Ken Wilson ("Lostboater") was kind enough to grab some snaps of me while I was actually shooting some of these portraits, so I thought I'd post them here. Good times with good people!
|Oz Lang, Aaron Hiatt, Scooter Cannonball Run 2010|
As my inaugural blog post on Oz Lang Photography, I wanted to to let you all know about a personal photography assignment I've taken up for the month of April. This one's got a bit of history.
As you may have noticed, a lot of my motorsports photography involves scooters (primarily Vespas). I have had a passion for motorscooters - I started riding in 2004 and found myself in a vibrant community of people from a wide array of backgrounds and interests. I've twice participated in a cross-country endurance rally called the Scooter Cannonball Run, once in 2008 and again in 2010. For a variety of reasons, I cannot participate in this year's bi-annual event, but I still want to be part of it: this time as a documentarian.
For this year's event, Oz Lang Photography will be at the starting line of the SCR2012, and taking rider portraits. I want to capture the excitement, anticipation, and sense of impending adventure that I know I had myself. It'll be a trip, seeing this and not participating, but there's always 2014. I look forward to sharing this personal assignment with you all, and until then, you know where to find us.
Due to this assignment, Oz Lang Photography will be unavailable for bookings the weekend of 4/20-4/22, 2012.