6/23/22 "From the Woods to the Concrete Jungle."


It has been an interesting past weekend last week.  I had a back to back race weekend from shooting in the woods of Lewis Morris Park on Saturday to the concrete jungle of NYC, Marcus Garvey Park....one race is an off road triathlon/trail run race and the other is a fast pace criterium in the streets of NYC...featuring some of the top elite domestic riders.  I wasn't hired to shoot the race per se...for some other program as parts of the race.  More on that later. 

On Saturday, me and my second shooter were covering another Ready Set Go Adventures event, the Transcend Multisports Off Road Series.  It was basically off road triathlon race in the morning and followed by over 150 runners trail run race in the 6 miles trail system.  The trail isn't difficult but in fact very fun to ride and run on.  The weather was great and cool.  Perfect way to get in touch with nature.  It didn't take me that long to get to my first spot.  The race went fine and I think I captured more photos than usual....  I didn't feel rushed.  I didn't feel that some weekend photographers contesting for my shooting spots.   

On Sunday, I was hired to document the LevelUp Harlem Women Clinic as well as races from the Major Taylor Development Team.  The clinic was co-sponsored by the Major Taylor Iron Riders Club as well as the Development Racing Team.  We worked out the plan months ahead and including the branding logo on all the photos.  Is part of the skills and values I bring to event promoters. 

Between Saturday and Sunday morning, I had maybe 6 hours of sleep after a 10 hours day on Saturday (stuck in traffic in NJ).  I got home around 4 or 5 .  And went to bed around 9 or 10.  And was at the Marcus Garvey Park around 8 am the next morning.

Our plan went as expected although the race was delayed by 40 minutes in the morning.  I had to make the last minute decision as to when I was taking the team photos.  The challenge in this assignment is obviously shooting a somewhat slower pace clinic while the race was going on in the background.  I literally had to block out my mind as if the men weren't racing.  My job wasn't done until 2pm.  It was then I have some free time to capture the rest of the races.  In the epic scale of 1 to 10, I ranked this weekend in the low 7.  The venue wasn't that challenging and the logistic in covering the races is very manageable.  The challenge was the mindset and focus shooting two different pace events in 2 days.  Another shift in focus in another event. 

I have a long history with the Harlem Skyscraper Criterium.  I started shooting it since 2012.  I remember because the race director in 2013 stole my 2012 photo and to use it to promote the 2013 edition of the race without asking for my permission.  He was supposed to compensate me after the race but left the NYC racing scene ever since.  He basically said what was needed to avoid getting sued.  This guy John...hehehehe....  Lucky for him, I have a bigger agenda than suing the race director who was acting like an used car salesman, than an Olympian.  This guy can't be trusted.  I didn't exactly boycott the race.  I went back to shoot it in 2017 because I was hired to shoot the Brompton Criterium.  The race also has a long history of bad PR but usually from the racer's perspective of being disorganized or last minute prize reduction in the women's field because the RD blaming the women for low turnout.  The bigger issue is that all of these have been happening under the same promoter, as of today. 

The 2022 edition of the race went well.  No massive delays or box trucks on the course.  I hope everyone got paid working on the race.  Shit, the race took place on Juneteenth, the day we commemorate the end of last slavery in America. 

I heard that there was some internal changes this year. Again, hopefully, this race would change for the better in the future.  They still need to work on the marketing aspect of the race.  The promoter was using 2014 photo to create one ad to promote the race.  The same photo on their FB banner.  Literally no updates on the race on their social media accounts until maybe the last 24 hours.  The total turnout was around 460.  I am sure it could easily reach 600 if more effort and resource have been used to market and promote the race.  Anyone ready for the 2023 edition? 

Another thing I am not too fond of shooting these big races is that all the weekend photographers coming out shooting.  Fortunately, I wasn't hired to shoot the race but the women clinic.  For the actual races, they were all over the course and getting into shots.  Glad I was shooting for fun at the end.  Seriously, I would have preferred to be shooting in the woods.  Yeah, I have encountered bears once in a while but they aren't in my shots for the most part. 

Finally, the month of July would be a slower pace for me.  Some down time.  Looks like there is a change of plan for the July 3rd Shake n Brake race and I won't be shooting it.  Probably do some riding in July, particularly the gravel route in Bedminster or maybe doing loops in the Lewis Morris Park or hitting the LI Glacier Ridge trail.  Considering my late mid season break.  Things would once again pickup at the end of July until November....        


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