I recently had the great fortune of shooting Blake Trask, Policy Director for the Bicycle Alliance of Washington state, for Andre Mora over at Seattle Met for their Quote Unquote section.
The above is an outtake with this super-attuned gent who wrestles daily with the magnitude of responsibility his job carries. He's essentially the guy that's trying to make biking safe for everyone here in our state given the fact that three bicyclists were killed this past summer in automobile collisions.
Andre and I knew that whatever we chose to do photographically with Blake could be construed in any number of ways from a camp of 'white-knuckled-Audi-I'm-gonna-teach-you-a-lesson' type drivers OR a faction of 'plugged-out-on-your-left' type bicyclists forever immortalized in Portlandia and played so perfectly by Mr. Fred Armisen as seen below.
Our questions back and forth to each other read like so:
What if we put him on a bike next to a car? What if he's facing the car? Is this confrontational? What then if the guy/gal in the car is giving him a cross look? What if he's giving the driver of the automobile a cross look?
Andre had this awesome idea of recreating the ET poster, and believe it or not, I even kicked around the idea below but timing just wasn't on our side:
. . . was thinking another direction would be to construct an old bike thing like the image below but with like one regular car tire in the back and one moster truck tire in the front. . . (from the ALWAYS back and forth concepting emails Andre and I share)
Seen below is the final select, but in a nutshell, we knew whatever we went with could be (and was) construed in any number ways as in the case of this post over on Bikehugger where the blogger claims that we were flippant in our depiction of Blake.
Part of the reason why I write this post now, is to show that both Andre and I DID AND ALWAYS DO wrestle with how best to show a subject. It's not just Andre and I, but really any photo editor and his/her photographer. After I read the Bikehugger post, I sent an email to Blake, Andre and Matt Halverson. Below is the latter portion of my email explaining my intent behind the imagery.
it's hard, but the things i focused on in blake's comments were the fact that he had a 10 month old daughter and that people should exercise empathy for one another. i kind of saw the tricycle as looking at how we get around by taking it all back to jump. getting at the elements and nuts and bolts of things, where it all started and spreading the word again on sensible transportation. look, the guy's doing work and it just so happens that it involves tires and phones and helmets and xerox copy machines. maybe some folks would have you be mel gibson in braveheart: chain grease for battle paint or something.
my real desire with the image was to have made something that causes one to pause. an image that makes the white knuckled bro/bro'ette in the audi AND the 'on your left' portlandia-type bicyclist guy stop and look at their role in this thing. maybe chuckle and not take themselves so seriously. . . everybody should take it easy out there.
on the other hand, if it furthers the conversation and it gets people thinking and talking about the fact that people can die then that works, too.