Reversing the Numbness

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Last Year's Model

We start this post off with a little soundtrack music from the king, Mr. Elvis Costello. Raoul Duke, feel free to abstain from the audio portion of this entry.

Nobody would ever accuse me of being model material. While it's true that I have incredibly normal ears that could potentially show up in an ear ad of some kind, you wouldn't think I'd end up on the other end of a camera for professional purposes. But a couple of years ago on the Andy Warhol Bridge in Pittsburgh, that's exactly what happened.

I've mentioned before that I make motorcycle magazines for a living, and a while back I got a call from esteemed photographer Fran Kuhn. Fran is just a peach of a guy, and I've known him for ten or eleven years. (Here's a bitchin' photo of his from back in the day of Scott Burnworth.) He doesn't do much race stuff these days, probably because he's so good that he stays busy with commercial work. I mean, he is really, really good.

Speaking of commercial work, he called me back then because he had a photo shoot for a Honda brochure planned in Pittsburgh a couple of days later and one of his riders had to bail at the last second. He needed someone who was tall (I'm 6'!) and thin (175!) who could ride a motorcycle. I don't remember what the pay was, but it was good for a day's worth of work, and Fran needed someone, so I told him I'd be happy to fill in.

It ended up being pretty cool. I went up that Saturday and found that they had closed the Andy Warhol Bridge down for this shoot. We were doing the cover shoot for the 2005 Honda VTX1800 brochure. These are the brochures that dealers display in their dealerships, just like car dealers do with every model they sell.

Here's a photo of me (up front) and the other dude, with the rigs we were on:

The bridge is sloped, so we'd just ride up to piece of duct tape on the road, turn the bike off, and when Fran said go, we'd start drifting backward. (A mechanic had disconnected the brake light so it wouldn't light up as I controlled my speed with my front brake.) My job was to keep the wheel on the side-rig on the yellow line as we drifted back. The other dude, who's used to riding backward on a motorcycle, would make sure he was going about the same speed as I was. Fran was off to the side with a remote shutter button snapping photos like crazy until we made it to the point where he'd tell us to stop, ride up to the duct tape, and do it all again. (The point in going backward was to create a motion blur in the background.)

We did this all day and Fran took hundreds of photos. We stuck around just until dusk, when the lights on the bridge and in some of the buildings kicked on, and Fran took some final shots. My one and only day as a model was finished.

A month or two later, I got an e-mail from Fran with the final version of the photo, which is actually a Photoshop composition of multiple images.

The rigs were Photoshopped out, the road was perfected, and the whole thing looks like it was done at dusk. I think the photo turned out great, and I had fun doing it to boot. Too bad I never actually got to ride that Honda.

Oh, and I changed the template of RtN. If anyone has any problems with it, let me know.


Inarticulate Fumblings said...

The picture looks great. I will not be gracing the cover of GQ anytime soon either, but managed to be in a Lexus, Dentyne, and scooter (a Chinese brand I can't pronounce) T.V. commercial while I was living in Taiwan.

It was fun (well, two of them) and good money. Not really anything to brag about however. I'm pretty sure the only physical requirements they had were 'white' and 'not fat.'

The Electric Orchid Hunter said...

Man, that looks nice! What a great picture. How much does it cost to close down a bridge for a whole day?

SleekPelt said...

IF: Sounds like your qualifications were about as stringent as mine.

teoh: That's a good question. I bet it was more than I got paid that day!

josh williams said...

Hella cool, that is a great shot.Don't give up hope tall and thin you there is still time to walk the runway. Strong work!

SleekPelt said...

josh: I run away from runways.

spooge said...

For some reason, when I was growing up, i thought that if I ever knew a model, she would have a lot better legs than you. But at this point, i'll take what i can get....

great post!


SleekPelt said...

spooge: Notice they've got me covered from waste to ankle.

josh williams said...

I think spooge is right, your one of those models. Cool I know a model, wait till I tell my folks!

Clash said...

A method actor on a motorcycle. Well done, sir.

Kristen Hovet said...

beautiful photo!!!!

SleekPelt said...

spooge and josh: You know what? You guys are right. I don't need my job! I'm going to quit tomorrow to pursue a full-time career in modeling. Thanks for helping me find the guts to follow my dreams.

kristen hovet: Fran is the man, Kristen.