Friday, November 21, 2008

The Eye Behind Coop's Lens

I think it's only fair to say that your average blind man sees more than most rookie La Carrera Panamericana teams. Even before I had competed in the 2007 La Carrera Panamericana I had a mixed understanding of what I might expect once I got there having seen lots of photos many of which were taken by none other than Coop. For obvious reasons most of my focus was on the race so my primary observations were those of cars, road conditions and so on. Have you ever seen the video of a room filled with six people wearing black T-shirts and six others wearing white and you are asked to count the number of times the basketball is passed between the white team during a one minute video? Then they play it over again and instruct you not to watch the ball but in doing so you notice a full size gorilla walks right thru the middle of the group in plain sight. The point is, all too often La Carrera teams have no idea what lays in store for them regardless of the infinite amount of websites, literature and magazines available to them. Even worse is how many of them return only to see a lot of what they missed in someone else's photo album.

This last year I was fortunate to have had the privilege to spend some time with Coop and his beautiful wife Ruth and found them both to be great to be around and I look forward to seeing them again. The first time was at Ron Lee's La Carrera get-together and the next was in San Miguel de Allende for a few days spent BS'ing about everything from cars to gals. What else is there? I had to laugh, one evening at dinner in San Miguel de Allende my wife leaned over and said, "Your friend Coop is such a nice young man. What does he do for a living?" and so I just said, "Let me just say he loves what he does."

Enter Coop... Coop has an awesome ability to not only snap a few photos but in fact he captures the entire environment. Now don't get me wrong, Coop takes great shots of cars too but when he clicks the shutter he manages to do things differently than most other so called photographers. Coop rips the view, the mood, the humidity, the sound and even the smell right off the face of the earth and locks it up in his camera until he lays it out for his audience to exhume much in the same way that an Aztec priest rips the still beating heart straight out of the chest of a human sacrifice before offering it to the Gods. Even though many are guilty of not seeing the gorilla so to speak, Coop's photos make it possible for anyone who took part in La Carrera Panamericana to rewind their journey and see so much of what they missed. While everyone else is taking pictures of someone else's race car, Coop is busy taking a photo of that old building that is all too often hidden by the large crowd of spectators who are blocking out the real essence of Mexico. While they are saying, "And here I am standing next to Bob and his car...." Coop has captured some elderly woman taking her great grandchildren to market or a small church that was probably built before even our very own ancestors stepped foot in the New World. Just think about it.... how many have said, "I spent thousands of dollars, went to Mexico for a couple weeks and came home with a bunch of damn pictures of what else... Mostly Cars and a bunch of Americans???"

If I had my way I would post ALL of Coop's awesome captures on my blog because I know given time anyone who has been involved will find themselves drawn to them to relive what they left behind. Remember the next time you shoot an elephant... Don't just see the elephant. Take time to see every detail... see the blood vessels pulse in his ears, watch his skin quiver when he shakes off a fly, listen to him breath and look into his eyes as he looks at you. You'll return home a far better person than you left. You'll be more alive and you will be glad you did.

I hope you will enjoy Coop's "captures" of La Carrera Panamericana or as I call them, "The eyes of the elephant." CLICK HERE to visit Coopstuff.

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