If you know these gentlemen then it's probably
because of the Web. The Web has become the great equalizer of
professional and amateurs alike. The Web has blurred the line
between them. In the past only photographers who earned an income
could be called professionals. They earned that income selling
photos to a very limited group of magazines. Not any more. All
of us who have photographed auto races can now create a Web site
and put those photos up for viewing and if they're good enough
you sell them.
Allen Kuhn has photos from the 50's and
60's of auto-races from all over southern California and Pat Smith
spent so much time at Riverside Raceway he must have built his
own porta-john there. Pat has 100's, maybe 1000's, of photographs
from that hot, dusty track.
There are many, many photographs of great
historical value that are stored away in closets all over the
world. Why is that? I think the answer lies in the fact that both
auto-racing and the 35mm Single Lens Reflex (SLR) cameras came
of age at the same time. In the 60's and 70's everyone had to
have a 35mm SLR camera and what was more popular than auto-racing?
What better place to use the 35mm camera but at race tracks all
over the world.
How many 35mm cameras with those long lenses
were roaming the tracks taking thousands of photos? What happened
to all the photos? Probably got viewed once or twice and then
were stored away in the back closet never to be seen again. Then
came the Internet and the Web.
This photographer first saw the Web in
'95. He had been working in the computer industry for 20 years
but had always wanted to publish his work. Especially the work
he did while a US Marine photographer
in Vietnam. His photos from the Can-Am races at Laguna Seca
were long forgotten.
From the beginning I saw the power of the
Web. Anyone could become a published photographer with a worldwide
audience. The only hurdle was the cost of entry. There were no
Web editors like Dreamweaver in '95. And the cost of film scanners
in '95 was beyond what I was willing to pay. So for me it was
a waiting game.
When Microsoft published its Web editor,
Frontpage, I started designing web pages and complete sites. But
it wasn't until 2001 that I was willing to invest in a film scanner.
I then purchased a Minolta film scanner for $600 that was already
a generation old. But for creating images for the Web it was the
perfect scanner. At this time I also dumped Frontpage and purchased
So now I dig out all the old images and
start designing web pages. For this photographer the purpose of
the photographs was to tell a story. That's why my photos are
grouped together. It's the story.
I started with work that I did when I bought
my first 35mm SLR in '66. It had belonged to my dad and when he
purchased a newer camera he sold me his Nikon F. Still have that
camera. You can see these stories at www.photoessayist.com.
The largest story in that group was about rafting down the Green
and Colorado rivers.
It wasn't until I started going through
all my stored negatives that I came upon the Can-Am photographs.
Here again I wanted to group the photos and tell stories. Once
I had scanned all the negatives, color and BW, I went about editing
and putting together the different stories: the Place, Paddocks,
People, etc. I surprised myself by how much material I had.
While putting together Can-Am at Laguna
Seca the most valuable tool was the racing programs I had
saved from the races. Without those programs it would have been
very difficult to put together the site. The lesson here is -
buy the program and save it!
Can-Am at Laguna Seca has been up
for over two years and is the most popular section of photoessayist.com.
With the section on the Chaparral 2J the most popular pages of
the entire site.
Now in 2005 the cost of entry is very small.
The film scanner I purchased for $600 can now be had for $150.
And there are many entry-level Web page editors.
Don't try to do it all in the beginning.
Scan the negatives and see what you have. You just may be sitting
on a gold mine. Allen Kuhn was. So was Pat Smith.
the list of sites here and at
locations all over this site.