NASHVILLE, SUMMER 2013.
This was a glorious summer. I had just recently bought my first car, and so had complete freedom of the road for the first time! It was a small 15-year old car that I had bought on the cheap, with crazy-high mileage, but it represented a longly-yearned-for freedom to me.
I worked 85 hours a week at the time, month after month with barely a day off ever 2 months or so. Free time to go out and photograph was therefore in very short supply. This summer I was working about 45 minutes south of the city of Nashville.
One sunday night, I got off work early (at 7, instead of 9pm) and drove hard for the city center, trying to beat the setting sun. I had been geeking out all weekend over a picture I saw online, of the Nashville skyline. It was a poorly taken picture from a cell phone, but the angle was fantastic and I strongly yearned to recreate it, with my own touch.
I had it all mapped out in my head. The sun set around 7:45pm. If I was on the road by 7:05 (provided nothing went wrong) I had an outside chance of catching this same angle but with a glorious sunset behind the Nashville skyline, to liven it up! Key words there.... “Provided. Nothing. Went. Wrong.”
But as we all know, the world can be unpredictable! I ended up running into major traffic on the way there, with an accident on the freeway.
I raced through as quickly as I could, throwing caution to the wind to try and catch the last of daylight. But I was a few minutes too late. My heart raced as I spied out of my car windshield, the last of a orange-pink color explosion leaking out of the sky as every minute passed, into a sad sort of blueish-gray you witness right before the sky turns its lights out.
I knew I still had a chance to catch something... I found the bridge I wanted to shoot from. I had memorized the route through downtown Nashville so I could quickly find this bridge that spanned the Cumberland river, which itself bisects the city of Nashville. I had found my bridge. I just hadn't considered the availability of parking. At all. And by the looks of things, the search could have lasted an hour. I was in the hopeless carousel of “drivers looking for street parking downtown on a sunday evening”. I then spotted the Tennessee Titans football stadium across the river, and saw it was currently dark. It had a huge parking lot... not too far from the opposite side of the the bridge. I swerved out my lane and got into the far right lane that took me across the river.
I parked and ran as fast as I could. Every second counted. I had a 30lbs camera bag in my right hand and an absurdly heavy tripod in my left. “Light weight travel-tripod” had yet to occur to me in this stage of my career, so I was heaving around 25 extra pounds of solid metal that I had no business with.
I sprinted out of that huge parking lot and onto the ramp that got me on the bridge. I ran across the long, iron suspension bridge searching for the spot from which this photo online had been taken. The one I had been staring at for the past few days. I knew the rough angle of the shot, but there were no immediate clues in the picture itself, of where on the bridge it was taken from. As I ran across the span of this bridge, I pulled up this picture in my mind and compared it to my view in real time. It hit me immediately. It was a spot about 100 feet ahead. I reached the spot 10 seconds later, set up up my gear and was shooting in under 30 seconds. By this time, the last of any bright, warm color had left the sky, leaving behind a deep, vivid blue with a tiny sliver of light in the clouds, from the dying sun. This here was the first shot I got, seconds before the sky went totally black. Every subsequent shot was dark and unusable. I had gotten the shot in the first round.
I was very happy with the picture and from this, I decided to have a picture of mine printed on canvas for the first time. The rest is history, but I had the good fortune of selling 13 pieces of it in my first 10 days!