Bounty:Fury Riders MCBy: Zoey Parker
This is a bad idea.
It was all I could think as I traveled deeper and deeper into a seedy part of town I had little experience with. The night seemed darker there, deeper. Scarier. As a kid I was fascinated with the way darkness changed the world around us. Things we wouldn’t be afraid of in the light, things we might even enjoy—trees rustling in the wind, a covered bridge, our own front yard—suddenly became ominous once the light went away. Shadow and darkness tended to do things to our brains.
That was why I started taking pictures in the first place. I became fascinated by the way light and dark played off one another. We all loved the light. We sought it out. We basked in it. Yet shadow made for a great shot. Better than one that was over-exposed. A lot more could be shown in a dark shot with just a hint of someone or something coming out of the shadows than in one taken in a brightly-lit room.
Then again, we all brought a part of ourselves into what we observed. I could hang a print on the wall, taken in one of those dark rooms with just a hint of a shape coming out of the darkness—a face, maybe, or an arm or a desk chair, anything—and one person might find it inspiring, one might find it depressing, and one might find it frightening. Same photo, three reactions. We brought our projections to the image we saw, making it what we wanted it to be.
The only problem was, the part of the world I was exploring that damp fateful night wasn’t very pleasant even in broad daylight. Only the most determined Pollyanna could see anything positive there. Roughly seventy percent of the crime in the city came out of that specific area, only twelve blocks square.
And I was driving into it.
“You sure you’re gonna be all right out here?” The driver cast a concerned look my way in the rearview mirror. He was a grandfatherly type, and I saw the concern in his eyes.
“Sure thing,” I said, sounding more chipper than I felt. Really, all I wanted to do was go straight home and curl up in bed with a cup of tea.
It had seemed like a good idea when I came up with it. I was desperate to find something riveting, something visceral and unforgettable. I was getting photos together for a potential exhibition, one which I had a lot of hopes pinned on. It would make or break me as a photographer.
I hadn’t been seriously into the photography game for very long. I’d studied it in college, but since my parents nearly dropped dead at the thought of their daughter pinning all her hopes on a career in the arts, I couldn’t major in it and hope for them to pay my tuition. So I majored in criminal justice—they were hoping this would lead to law school—while minoring in fine arts. Three years after graduation and I was still fielding the occasional inquiry into when I would be applying for law school. But I was busy taking pictures.
I’d been taking pictures since I got my first camera. It was my tenth birthday, and I’d recently spent a rainy Saturday afternoon watching a documentary on street photography I happened to stumble across on TV. I was hooked. I imagined myself taking pictures of people in their everyday lives, capturing a slice of life for future generations to see and ponder. I would be famous, a champion of the people.
Needless to say, my first roll of film was a disaster. So was the next. I was still too young to be trusted with a digital camera, so all I could work with was point-and-shoot. It was all right—a digital camera would have been a waste of time. I needed to learn how to compose a shot first.
One thing my parents couldn’t ignore was my passion for learning all I could about the medium. I wouldn’t just point the camera at something and click away. I was very serious. I took out books from the library, spent hours doing research online. How to compose a shot. How lighting affected a shot. What made a good picture. Why photos taken by professionals were better than anything I could come up with. This wasn’t just a silly hobby for me.
It took three years of saving every bit of money I could get my hands on, but I was finally able to buy an actual, serious DSLR. Countless hours were spent taking shots, analyzing them, comparing them to the ones I saw in photography books and blogs. It became my life, and I was never without a camera in my possession.
So what was I doing three years out of college? I was working as a portrait photographer in a mall. Hence, my parents wondering when I planned to enter law school.
It was discouraging. I hadn’t spent so much of my life learning the art to take pictures of kids sitting in front of cheesy backdrops. Yet for all my studying the art, I had no idea how to break into the business.
That’s when I got the idea for the exhibit. After spending a lot of time at galleries in the area, I’d made a few friends and one of them agreed to showcase my work for a nominal fee. They had connections to art writers at local papers who would cover the exhibition. This could be my big break, enough to get my name out there and get people talking about me and willing to buy my work. I was stoked—this was the chance I’d been working toward.