Personal Project - Wind Therapy
Riding large motorcycles seems to be primarily the purview of older men. Although, in recent years, women have become the biggest growth demographic for motorcycle manufacturers. Still, their numbers are currently far fewer than 50-70 yr old men when it comes to riding the size and types of bikes you would ordinarily associate with both Indians and Harleys.
Additionally, this subculture is uniquely American and, like all cultures, it has its own set of unspoken "rules". An example? Never wear 3 patches on the back of your riding jacket _unless_ you are a member of a Motorcycle Club (or "MC"). If you're not but still want to wear a patch on your jacket. Then make sure that you wear 1 large patch to represent your "Riding Group" or the brand of your motorcycle. Getting this confused could be unfavorable to your health in some sections of the country.
Like many subcultures around the world. It isn't easy to photograph the members of it — unless you are in it. Mary Ellen Mark knew this and would take prolonged photoshoots immersed in the subjects she shot to build both trust and also an intimate knowledge of what mattered to them. Using that trust, insight, and knowledge she could leverage her art and experience to express the nuances and bring humanity to the stereotypes.
In the case of riders of motorcycles, there are some well-entrenched (and often well-earned) stereotypes. But like all stereotypes, they are largely one-dimensional in a world full of multi-dimensions. Every motorcycle rider has a reason for why they ride. Be in control, solace, escape, adventure, or any myriad of things. The multi-dimensional aspect of each and every rider never ceases to amaze me. Click on each image and learn more about the rider's context under each was taken and the rider who is featured. I think you'll agree.
I ride motorcycles in a riding group because I love it. I love the comradery. I love the feeling of riding along a road in a loosely synchronized unit that (when the riders are familiar with each others riding styles) becomes much like a ballet. A ballet starring everyday men (mostly) is not something that is often dreamt of nor celebrated. I photograph them to help celebrate the lives, charity, and often subtle sacrifices that ordinary men over 50 have survived to make it this far. So far.
These men (and women) are kind, generous, and are more often than not out riding for charity as well as getting their own context from some Wind Therapy.