Photo Essays

Portraits of city-dwellers in their environments.

Harvest Classic

I have been riding on my Dad’s motorcycle since I was five years old. Picture a little girl in a pale pink tutu all ready for ballet class, sitting in front of her Dad on his Honda Shadow, red sparkly helmet included.

So it didn’t surprise my father too much when I wanted to join him for his yearly trip to Luckenbach, Texas for the Harvest Classic, a European and Vintage Motorcycle Rally. The event is put on to raise money for the Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Foundation. Every year they raffle off a classic motorcycle, and auction off tons of gear and art.

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This year there were four of us in our group. Me, Dad, his friend Jeff, and Jeff’s son Justin (pictured below), who looks like he could pass for a young version of Bobby Elvis from Sons of Anarchy.

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We camp, drink beer, shit talk, ride around, drink more beer, eat German food, oggle bikes we’d like to own, meet new folks, drink beer again and eventually pass out, hopefully before sunrise and hopefully inside a tent (ah-hem…Justin).

But I had an ulterior motive for going on this trip. I wanted to photograph the people we would meet on our journey. How did I know we would meet people? Because I know my Dad. And he will talk to ANYONE. And I, his offspring, have a similar inclination. At one point along the way, I overheard my Dad proudly stating, “My goodness, she has no problem just walking right up to people and asking for their photo.”

This is not entirely true of course. I am selective. I consider whether the person or people look like they are in the right frame of mind to say yes. I look for open body language. Do they turn away from me when I catch their eye? When I smile at them, do they smile back? Maybe we can bargain…I’ll buy a raffle ticket from you if you let me take your photo.

John and Gunner, selling raffle tickets

John and Gunner, selling raffle tickets

I’m also particular about how I hold my camera. My Nikon D4 is huge and impossible to miss, but I hold it down and away from any position that looks like I might be ready to shoot. I don’t put a neck strap on it for this reason. The strap gets in the way. I want to carry it at my hip or in the crook of my elbow. The strap makes me look too professional and I hate it when people get stiff around me, thinking they need to be on guard because someone is about to take their photo.

But there were more than just fascinating characters to shoot. On the opposite end of the spectrum from the Harley riders, were the AMA PRO riders. They competed in a trial event that drew a huge crowd of camera phones.

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My favorite part of the rally was the 100cc Fun Run. To be apart of this 20-mile ride, you needed to be riding a street-legal bike that was 100ccs or less. Let me ask you, why is it so entertaining to see big dudes on tiny bikes? I find it hilarious. I want to pinch their cheeks.

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Hindsight Lesson: There are always things I regret not photographing when I travel. But I have to learn to get over it. This time I wanted a shot of this leathery-looking 30-year-old guy with letters tattooed on his fingers. The thing was, as I watched him, he seemed a little unbalanced. So I stayed back, let that one go. A little while later, I’m walking out of the crowd and look up to see him. The life he’d lived was evident on his beautiful worn out face. I smiled at him and he told me I had beautiful eyes. I should have taken the shot, but something told me that I shouldn't engage him in conversation. I mouthed “thank you,” and walked on.

Sarah JonesComment