Deer Vs. Biker
A very fun assignment I had recently was to Photograph a man who had a very close encounter with a deer while he was riding a motorcycle. Luckily both the rider and the deer got away with a huge fright, thought the former recorded the whole thing on his GoPro. Even before watching the footage I knew that this video had huge potential to go viral, as in the pat several deer vs. biker videos had, and this would, of course, be my chance to be a part of it.
As is rarely the case, I got this assignment the evening before the shoot, so I had a chance to prepare myself. It was about 8pm the sun was nearly sett, and it had been raining intermittently, all day. I was optimistic. I knew I wanted to photograph our Protagonist on a country lane, possibly with a raps field in the background. The crazy clouds I had observed the past few days would surely make for a dramatic backdrop, and an overcast day would be to my advantage if I would shoot my Nikon D800E because of the 250/sec. Sync speed. I was already charging my Elinchrom Quadra, so flash power wasn’t going to be an issue.
If it would rain I would have to shoot him in his garage. The assignment was to shoot him with his bike. No other instructions were provided, which meant I had total creative freedom. Yes!
Inspiration Struck a little later, when I thought it would be cool to have him sitting on his bike, wearing his Leathers, holding a pair of Deer antlers. Off to Facebook I went. Surely one of my 500 closest friends would have a pair of antlers hanging on a wall, or would know a wall to take them down from.
Several people from around the world answered my call, and in the later evening a friend who was close by said he had a pair I could borrow.
Fast track to the next evening. Our rider was able to meet me at 7:00 PM due to work, which was good because it was raining till about 5:30 PM. I got there a little early to look for a location on the way. I saw several options, but was also sure he knew of some quiet roads.
I was very happy to see him come out of his apartment in his leathers. That was one less negotiation I would have to do. I asked him about the road and, as I had hoped, he had thought of a place. We drove there, and I was not happy, because the corridor I would use to represent the country road, was actually a gravel road. He took me to another place, that was perfect. There was no raps but there was a lovely serpentine of tarmac that would guide the eye of the viewer in to the countryside.
I shot several options with the D800E and my Nikkor 80-400mm. Only after I had the shot “in the bag” did I take out the antlers. He laughed his ass off, always a good sign, and was enthusiastic about taking several more shots.
In the end my favorite image, shot with the X100s synched at 100th of a second with the Quadra close to full power, was of him on his bike holding the antlers as the sun set behind him. This Photograph was so over the top and absurd, that I absolutely adored it! That’s the thing with tabloid. The rule is to shoot Vertical with flash. What you do with the rest is pretty much up to you. I am not satisfied with good enough. In fact I am looking for an epic and heroic aesthetic in my work at the moment. Pursuing this is what I am hoping will enable my next evolutionary step on the road to becoming a commercial photographer.
The paper went with another image. I am grateful that I got to shoot this story with creative freedom, giving it my best shot. That is where my responsibility ends. How the images end up being used is out of my control, and for the most part none of my business. As much as my ego wanted the Photograph to run as a full double page poster, I am OK with the editor’s decision to use the Photograph as he sees fit.