Sushi ~ The Race of Gentlemen, 2017. Photograph by Sean Madden
Armed with a leaky old 35mm camera, and an iron clad determination to capture as many of the “Faces behind the Races” of TROG 2017— Sean Madden surely delivered the goods! Sean was snapping at a furious pace and wasn’t able to get everyone’s name – so help us out by sharing this post and/or leaving a comment if you see someone you know!
Mel Stultz ~ The Race of Gentlemen, 2017. Photograph by Sean Madden
SEAN MADDEN PHOTOGRAPHY WEBSITE
“Last year being my first year at TRoG, I just let the excitement take over and took a photo probably every second for two days straight. This year, wanting to take it easy and enjoy the weekend, I knew I wanted to do something different and way more focused for myself.
For all the photographers there, everybody’s going to go home with really similar photos – shots from the track, shots in the pit, shots from stands – it doesn’t really change much with each new installment. So for me, I immediately thought portraits of as many people as I could grab ahold of for a couple seconds at a time. And to really put myself outside of my comfort zone – do it all in 35mm (which I only just started shooting again for the first time in four years) with a camera I bought off a friend from school in the last couple months which as I found out getting these rolls back, has some mechanical issues and let light leak into the negatives. Luckily I did shoot some backups with my digital as well.
The thing with film is that it is definitely unforgiving. Between the dust specs, light leaks, and color balancing, it’s just one giant mess, but somehow it still works. One thing I needed above all was to have every photo cropped from the roll itself rather than holders in a scanner, leaving the natural black frame from the negative itself. It really stuck with me from seeing Elliot Landy’s photographs of The Band in NY from 68-69. It’s as simple as it is effective. When I look at that border as it blends into a photo, it immediately clicks in my head as an indicator, “this is film.” Nowadays, its so easy for somebody to post a photo online, process it through 80 different filters and maybe achieve half the color balance of an actual negative. Having that framing present also shows the photo in its original dimension where cropping can easily change the emotional effect, and even perspective of a photo.
In terms of the subjects themselves, I found that although I wanted each portrait to be composed in as similar a way as possible, every photo was still different. Within the vintage motorcycling and car community, every person I photographed had their own personal style and flare and it reflected in their clothes, cars, bikes and even tattoos. Every photo I went through brought something new and different from the last.
Overall, I’d say I’m pretty happy with how the film came out. It was my major focus of the weekend versus shooting every aspect of the event, and I definitely learned a lot and still managed to create a body of work that I’m really happy with. Despite the mechanical issues with the camera and the light leaks being more or less unwanted, my only other wish is that I could’ve nabbed a couple more people, but that can wait until the next installment of TRoG. To Mel and the rest of the Oilers Club – another great year, and a ton of thank you’s!”