As some of you know, I'm relatively new to photography. And while I wasn't so much into it as a teenager, there are some classic shots that have been etched in my mind for some time, such as the grim Eddie Adams' Vietnam capture (violent image, be warned) or, on a lighter note, Arthur Sasse's famous Einstein's picture.
But on a more personal note, one of my all-time favorite shot, certainly my favorite snowboarding picture, is Bud Fawcett's capture of Jeff Brushie popping an air during at the OP Pro GS race back in 1991. I used to own the magazine in which is was featured, and it probably ended up cut and glued on a binder of mine back in the days of secondary school. Once I get a bigger place and have some space to hang it, I will most likely buy a print. To me, this shot is legendary not only because of the fame of the rider, but because it epitomizes what snowboarding was like then: a counter culture trying to find its stance and place.
To me, great photography is not just a great image. It should contain a social message. Although most of my commercial work is just that, commercial, when I shoot for myself or for the purpose of exhibiting my art, I hope my work will resonate with humanity and somehow improve its condition. For instance, my Bicycle Diaries was aimed at encouraging a greener mode of transportation and, by the use of people shots, encourage viewers to question themselves about their neighbors. Who is that person? Who is she talking on the phone to? Why is he in a hurry? What would make her truly happy?
In other words, I'm not an esthete for beauty's sake. I don't really adhere to the 'art for art's sake' point of view. If art doesn't aim at improving humanity, I see little point in it; to it's navel-gazing and a waste of time. I may not change the world through my photography, but I do hope to improve it a little somehow, if only by making people feel happier or more positive about life. Some of my 'art' projects might have dark subjects, but I do so in the hope of raising awareness about certain situations.
Coming back to Bud Fawcett classic shot, it may at first glance to have nothing to do with what I've just said, but I would disagree. Beyond the fantastic technical aspects (composition, interplay between shade and light, etc.), the image conjures many aspects of life that are important to me. First, of course, there is playfulness and humor; being an optimist by choice, the picture captures this well. But also the picture expresses creativity, thinking outside the box, which is equally as important. Perhaps this picture will inspire others to go on path less well trodden, where true advancement is possible.
As a homage to the wonderful picture, here's my version of it, using my elliptical adventures of late. Of course the original is way better, but I did learn a few things doing it, which is a necessary step in any endeavor we undertake.