Sometimes I think: Do animals ever wonder how they got roped into playing Weird Sports? Because they are well-represented.
Many times it’s a race or something like Dog Surfing. And then there’s K9 Keg Pulling and ski joring, which I recently shot in Idaho. And I’m realizing that animals may be as important to this evolution of sports as Halloween costumes and cheap beer.
Every now and then – and more often lately – I get an email from someone pitching a Weird Sport for me to shoot. Matt Mills McKnight, based in Sandpoint, sent me a note about ski joring (horse-drawn ski jumping). I’d actually had ski joring on my To Shoot List, but this year’s national event coincides with a dear friend’s wedding. As it turned out, they have a circuit, and one of their first stops was in Idaho, as part of the annual Sandpoint Winter Carnival.
Since I was in the hood for outhouse racing, I decided to swing by. Plus, it was a chance for me to visit my mentor’s hometown. I wanted to see if everyone in Sandpoint was as dry and witty as Pietsch.
Another event at the carnival was K9 Keg Pulling. I want to say there was a greater turnout for this than for ski joring, though I could be wrong. People sure love dressing up their dogs and putting them up on center stage. Some ran like greyhounds. Others, stood still in utter confusion.
After about an hour of this, Matt and I headed over to the fairgrounds to check up on the prep for ski joring. There was some concern the wet weather might force them to cancel, but it all worked out well. Hell, there was more snow there in Idaho than I saw during the Vancouver Olys, eh.
Matt is a good soul, a passionate photographer starting out, trying to find his niche and clientele. I feel very fortunate that I was able to work for newspapers for a decade, to learn my craft and find myself. Working at papers was my dissertation. Today’s model for young photographers has even less roadmaps. No one is hiring staff photographers. Those companies that could really benefit from quality photography (i.e. something not shot by your nephew with a Rebel) don’t appreciate the value of it because folks are giving it away for free. And frankly, not enough have the visual vocabulary to differentiate between fine and great photography.
One thing I’ve learned in my 4 decades is that things always work out. Always. NEVER like you imagine, but always for the better. Every photographer has had his/her bumps and bruises. No one, no matter how successful on the surface is immune. Everyone has issues, personal and financial. Everyone has choices, tough ones.
Perhaps the definition of success should be redefined: are you able to do what you love? (And have you found a rich patron as a spouse?)
Back to the action, ski joring is definitely an interesting weird sport. A tough one to shoot, in a way, if you’re trying to sum up everything in a single image. Not that that’s necessary. I still find myself fighting off those habits I had working at newspapers where I was trying to have the ultimate single image. My challenge is to block out those voices and approach each situation as new and unique.
Easier said then done with all those voices echoing in my head.This was a fun photo weekend. Thanks to Matt & Rosie for being such wonderful hosts to a complete stranger – and for the tasty mac and cheese and bacon. Kick ass supper.