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  • Writer's pictureDave Pidgeon

Getting air beneath the tires (and in our photo life)

Updated: Jul 22, 2023

Teenager on a bike
A Lancaster teenager jumps his bike down a local parking garage.

LOCATION: Parking garage, Lancaster City, Pa.

EQUIPMENT: Canon 5D Mark IV | EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM

THE STORY: Funny how old instincts can unexpectedly grab hold of you.

One Sunday evening in my home town of Lancaster, walking around with a camera, hunting for beautiful light, I raced up the stairs of a parking garage.

I wanted to get to the top. I wanted to see if a new view of the city would unfold from the uppermost platform.

Just as I emerged from the stairwell, my eyes met those of about six kids in their early teens, all lounging on bikes.

Immediately, the catcalls began.

"You a photographer? You any good?"

"Take a picture of this!"

"Hey, can you make me famous?"

Those old instincts I mentioned? Without so much as a pause in my thoughts, my mind went right into what I knew to do back in my own days as an early teenager -- ignore them.

Pretend like they don't exist. Don't let 'em see you do anything other than maintain composure. Just keep walking.

I gave only cursory one-word answers, then proceeded to scan the cityscape as I had planned.

Then it hit me. The hell am I doing? I'm a 44-year-old photographer, not some teenagre who's worried what cool kids think of him. This is an opportunity.

"Hey!" I called back to them. "Yeah, I'm a photographer. I'm actually a sports photographer, so let's see what you can do with those bikes. Get some air beneath those tires."

It took the group a little bit to understand what I wanted them to do; turns out they didn't know how to do much with those bikes.

But who cares? This was a moment, a photo life moment, a sponteneous coming together of people to create an image of a moment that will never happen exactly like that again.

Isn't that what the photo life is about? Creating a visual of a single moment so it endures, even if that moment is as simple as a couple of kids jumping their bikes in a parking garage?

Honestly, think about your own adolescence. Wouldn't you love to have an image like this of you with your friends doing what you all did to hang out or pass the time?

We grow up. We move on. We become adults. Time is an ever shrinking commodity, and we're left with memories, and if we're lucky, a random photographer who crossed our paths one day and captured what it was like to be young and free.

Dave Pidgeon is a seasoned photographer and writer from Lancaster, Pa. You can write to him at

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