From the "it's a small world" department...so, what do bull riders, horse barrel racers, NASCAR, mountain biking and Windjammers have in common? Read on my friends, read on!
I spent a good part of last year working on two personal projects; the first being a behind the scenes look at rodeo bull riders titled, "Cowboys". There will be an exhibition of my work from this series at my good friend John Michael Herrera's gallery located in Santa Fe, New Mexico in the very near future. Stay tuned for more on that.
The second project was an invite from the fine folks at Maine Windjammers. You can find more about that organization at my prior blog post, "The Great Schooner Race".
Fast forward a few months to late fall. While shooting another rodeo event for my Cowboy series, I made an unexpected but pleasant contact with the head of New Hampshire's Barrel Racing organization chapter president (an example of Barrel Racing below; a timed event around a fixed three-barrel course).
We struck up a conversation and exchanged contact information for the following season. It also turns out she is an avid mountain biker like myself, and had raced in the California Bay Area series. We spoke a good while about our mountain bike adventures in Colorado and Utah - good times! A few examples next.
Anyhow, a few days later I get a call from the New England Chapter of that same barrel racing organization (coincidence - I think not!), asking if I could be a last minute fill-in photog for their annual Tri-State event (MA, RI and CT) that coming weekend in CT.
Unfortunately, I was already booked to work a NASCAR event that Saturday at Lee Speedway NH, but I did mention that I could be available on Sunday, if that met their needs. They quickly reached back and said YES, so I booked out the weekend at 2 different events, in 2 different States! Ironically, both are based around horsepower - just in various forms ;).
So after finishing up an exhausting weekend of shooting, I uploaded the racing pics to my editor's platform (Speedway Illustrated),
and the same for the Barrel Racing images.
Now this is where it gets interesting. A few days later I received the following e-mail via my website. This is mind boggling.
My name is Ashleigh Shepka and I have recently started a small photography side business in Cincinnati, OH. In doing so I had seen your website when doing research, but didn't think we'd have any contact seeing as it's a big country and we aren't doing the same types of photography. Well recently a lot of people with horses in their profiles pictures have been liking my facebook page. One person messaged me and asked about where to go for the Barrel Racing Championship photos. I googled you again to see and sure enough, you have pictures like that on your page. So I have messaged the person directing them to you instead of me. But here is where the story gets more interesting.
As a Shepka you probably know there aren't many of us. My husband's family is from Cleveland, where are you from? I decided to see if I could find out your name so I was browsing your site. One picture of a schooner caught my eye as I have been on a schooner that my Grandparents loved and frequented (the Heritage below from this years event).
I thought there was NO WAY I would ever recognize one boat with all the boats in this world. BUT I DID!! I have been a passenger on the Heritage Schooner in 2012 when my extended family released the ashes of my Grandparents into the bay on a gorgeous night with an amazing sunset. Thank you for reading my message. Please tell me more about yourself, since there aren't many Shepka's I'd be interested to see if we are related!
I figure this is another chapter for my book one of these days. By the way, we are not related, but that doesn't dampen the spirit for me! As always, love to hear your comments. Please feel free to add a response on my Guestbook link.