A Personal Essay by Rick Stone, Stone Studios, Stevensville, Michigan
“Bikers”. What is this passion all about? What makes a person want to own a bike and follow that certain raw lifestyle? When it rains you get wet. When it’s cold you freeze. It’s not the most practical way to get around. But there are still millions of those who choose it. There is a company that has survived for just shy of 100 years because of the bikes and the lifestyle that they sell. They do it by building motorcycles and they are successful because people continue to want to live that lifestyle. The strange thing about “bikers” is that their interest in being photographed with their bikes is not that strong. The passion lays in the unity that they have together in believing in themselves. But if you offer a client or their kids a chance to have a portrait done with a bike, their reply is most always; “Oh, can we?”
Biker clubs will do many charity runs to raise money for a good cause that they believe in. It also doesn’t hurt that they get to ride the open road while raising that money. I am a “biker”. The club I run with has a Dust Off run in the spring. To help with the charity spirit, I offered to photograph each of the bikers with their bikes and give a portion of the cost to the clubs favorite charity. This offer was well received, but when I have photographed the club as a group in the past, they seem to like that better. The point being is that the bikers held a higher value of being photographed as a unit rather than as individuals. Thus showing that their passion lays in unity once more.
All of us have those days where nothing seems to be going right. Mine seem to make me question my identity as a photographer. With all of the insecurities that could my head I find myself asking if this is what I am suppose to be doing with my life. My favorite way to center myself and come to grips with who I am is to climb on my bike and hit the open road. Surrounding myself with the beauty of God’s great earth has been the basis for the emotional bond that I have built with my bike. Being able to take advantage of this bond has proven to be an outlet that helps me get back in focus and replace my doubt with the knowledge of the truth. The truth being that my identity as a photographer is the one that I accept fully and take great pride in. Photography is my life. Do I do it for the money? Hell no. I have been given a talent and I extend this gift by taking portraits of other and capturing their individual and unique personalities. I believe that my passion for being a biker comes from the same core source. From holding true to who you are and doing the things that you have always wanted to do… That is how a biker lives and this is what they stand for.
As a photographer I have had great opportunities to meet many different people with vastly different life styles. In creating an image, my responsibility to my clients is to relate to them without prejudice and blend with their personality, offering a place where they feel free to center on whom they really are, while capturing it in a portrait. I want to sell the total mental and physical photographic experience to my clients. I want them to walk out and not feel as if they just simply had their picture taken. That is my realization of a successful business. Through the lives that have touched mine, I have come to realize that every person has something of value to offer me. My hopes are that I can pass something of value on to those who come in contact with me.
Look at the image above. What is your first impression? How do you feel when you look at him looking back at you? The first impression is something that we deal with every time we meet someone new. I’m in the business of making those first impressions a good one. I believe that it represents freedom, freedom from prejudice, freedom of expression and the freedom to be whoever it is that us as Americans strive to be. Above all of that, I believe it to represent our right to be accepted as the unique individual that God created.
Now when you look at the “biker” what is it that you see?
Thank you goes to Bill Delp of Savannah, Illinois for creating my portrait. He helped capture my personality and everything that I stand for.