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In search of Motorcycle Super Models

The trials and tribulations of getting The Shot

As a motorcycle journalist, on of my jobs is to take photos as well as write. The days of having the luxury of having a photographer in tow are long gone as budgets have shrunk to the size of a vanilla bean. Heck, there’s even a shortage of those now, so I’ve heard.

So, as a journalist and photographer, I’ve experienced all sorts of encounters with riders, when I’m trying to get “The Shot.”

Once Batman rolled up on the bat bike next to where I was sipping coffee after just fueling up along US101 in Northern California on a foggy morning. I ran over to the pumps and asked him if he could give a moment to get my camera out of the tank bag and have a few minutes shooting him. He just mumbled. As I hit the “ON” button, the half-hemi-half-semi motor rumbled on and he just rode away. I did get a picture of the back of the bike, but no one is going to believe that one.

I did an interview with Kevin, the 11-year-old dirt bike racer. In the interview he told me street bikes are dangerous and he would never ride in the street. We made a date to meet the next week for a photo session at the track when the weather was better. Didn’t happen. Kevin’s leg was now in a cast due to a collision with several others all trying to get the hole shot earlier in the week.

I have a secret road in Washington where I like to pick up riders going through a particular spot. One day my model, Neik, was all set to go. All he had to do was ride down the road a few hundred yards, turn the bike around and make a sweet entry into the nearby corner. Didn’t happen. While turning the bike around, Neik dropped the bike into the culvert, making it less than cosmetically desirable to shoot the rest of the day. As I waited for him to come around the corner, which he never did, I stood there, Nikon in hand, calling – “Neik…? Neik…?”

One day while working up on Chuckanut Drive, Karen was going to provide the “Money Shot.” The money shot often takes a few tries. I set up the shot and waited for her to pass by the first time. She did, but it wasn’t quite right, so I needed to do a re-take. At this point in time, Karen obviously had an issue with peripheral vision, or shall we say she was more into tunnel vision. She blew past me and continued on… and on… and on… until her husband finally left the scene and chased her down somewhere around Anacortes. Eventually this led to her taking a series of riding skills classes, upping her visual acuity. Several years later she complained I rode too slow in the corners.

Of course, large motorcycle events are a place to pick up rider shots, or so you would think…

Message right now to all motorcyclists: If a photographer is aiming a camera at you and you wave, you can almost be certain you will never see that photograph in print or online. Like really, when was the last time you went to a reputable publication and noticed that every rider shown is waving? Those pics don’t even make it to the editing stage. So, if you think you and your bike are cool enough to grace the pages of a magazine, or the digital realm of the same, keep both hands on the steering bar. Then, you can perform the sign of the cross, only after you pass the shooter.

I’ve tried to hide before, so no one knows I’m there. But, it’s a little tough to be inconspicuous when my riding gear is tropical frog green and the sun hat I’ve donned looks like a bee magnet. If someone wants to do me a favor, ask me where my next assignment is, then go to Cabella’s and buy the appropriate camo gear to help conceal me in the brush.

So, if you’re bored with all the vacant bike images in the popular publications that feature the same model throughout an article, remember to keep your hands on the bars and you never know, that might be you in the next issue. Maybe even on the cover!

Patrick Thomas/September 18


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