You Lose Some, You Win Some. (part 1)
In the first four stages of the Vuelta a España, I missed all four finishes.
On the race opener I found myself trapped behind the finish-line barriers among an impassable sea of fans six-rows-deep. The second time, I planned for an overhead scenic at 200 meter to-go on such an uneven and shaley mountainside I couldn’t make a run for the post-finish scrum without risking life or limb in the process.
On the third day, we misjudged the timing for our penultimate spot along a narrow bridge and raced to the mountain finish, only to be surprised that the press parking was two kilometers down from the top. I hopped out of the car and scrambled along a narrow, sandy shoulder through lines of rowdy fans up towards the summit – just as the leaders flew by me at the 150 meter mark. My only shot was from behind, of Horner escaping, over the shoulders of two fans whose cap brims crept into the frame.
On the fourth day, we were actually on the way to the finish for the “Etapa del Fin del Mundo,” as dramatic-sounding as we hoped it would pan out to be. But upon seeing the incredibly steep 29% gradient and throngs of impassioned spectators on the Mirador de Ézaro, we quickly decided that this was better shooting terrain then we would ever find by reaching the end of the world.
And so started my first Vuelta a España; a lingering feeling of missed moments and incomplete sentences. Truly a race without finishes. It’s a weird psychological state to be in when you are not exactly having bad days but you can’t say you’ve killed it either. It’s a kind of photographic limbo.
This might seem absurd when you think about it… who shoots a race and misses the finish? But shooting in such an uncontrolled environment is – in reality – a ridiculously randy combination of well-planned strategies, good intentions, lucky breaks, intuition, happenstance, and a whole helluva lot of problem-solving when things go wrong. And, believe me, they do go wrong… about two dozen times a day.
When you edit through and collect the final images into the day’s gallery, it is easy (for the viewer) to miss all the in-between – the shots that didn’t make it, the failed frames or the images you flat-out missed. And in the end, who cares, right?
But for us, the funny thing about it is, the in-between is sometimes what you are left with at the end of the day. It’s the emotional part where confidence wanes or mere frustration blooms. It’s also the very thing that pushes you to greater challenges the next day and each day after. It keeps you on your toes. And it forces you to be creative.
Sometimes, if you can free your mind and your focus, you can come away with shots or moments that would not have happened had you nailed everything perfectly. So yes, you lose some but you do win some.