Being There and Being Ready
Photographer: Kat Wade
Early one morning, still bleary eyed from deep sleep, I laid my eyes on a set of images of the Ironman Triathlon, transmitted from Hawaii only hours before. WOW, is all I could muster up in my still foggy brain…but I was now wide-awake.
Never mind it took two years of planning, two trips to Hawaii, and two brand new Canon 5D cameras flooded with saltwater. Never mind Kat Wade spent hours painstakingly lubing the watertight seals on all her underwater gear. Never mind she carried 150 pounds of scuba gear, underwater camera equipment, and arrived on location hours before the sun got up. She was tenacious about this image and nothing was going to stop her from executing the plan.
The late Clem Albers, a former San Francisco Chronicle and federal government social documentary photographer for the War Relocation Authority (WRA), use to tell me with a wink, “I (Clem) could have shot that picture, if I was there,” referring to striking pictures. Sometimes it’s getting there that makes the difference between a professional and an enthusiast. For some projects, it’s a long road, a very long road, before one arrives.
Wade is a professional photographer, an adventurer, covering ecological climate changes, among her favorite topics. She’ll scuba dive eye to eye with Great White Sharks in the warm waters of Guadalupe; a month later she’ll stand eye to eye with polar bears in the frigid Arctic tundra.
But does one’s professional credentials matter when talking about great pictures? No. All that matters is what’s before your eyes at the moment, what that image is staying to the viewer, and what place it might have in the context of a generation.
Now, for the nit picking. Something I’ll probably never say again…but too many air bubbles…and let me think…maybe one of the swimmers could swim a little faster. So Kat Wade, next time you're shooting something like this, hold your breath for the 45 minutes you’re underwater…and have a personal conversation with all 1500 swimmers in the Ironman to swim faster, with coordinated spacing, and swim with more feeeeeling… And don’t feed me to the sharks.
I can’t find too many critical words to say about it…other than “I could have shot that picture,” if I ran 26.2 miles, biked 112 miles, and swam 2.4 miles.