Vintage legs and photographic losses

©Barry Sandland/TIMB - Sean Kelly legs in a post race image.

©Barry Sandland/TIMB – Veins will tell the story about effort.

This is, in all modesty, one of the nicest images of Sean Kelly. And I took it. That moment in time was at the race in Hamilton Ontario in the late eighties. Sean Kelly and a Francesco Moser had been persuaded to attend and the race went up and down the escarpment that runs through the city. Moser won.


In the throes of the post-race event, I saw Kelly’s legs, veins across every centimetre of flesh. It portrayed both his level of fitness ands the exertion made during the day. The image was made into a postcard (it was the craze) and published in a small cycling magazine I was running, called OBR (Ontario Bike Racing), so there is a record of copyright somewhere. As years went by, I made one mistake and lost all my negatives. I had thousands of images of cycling, the racers of the era, the events. And all my images from a three month trip through Mexico, Central and some of South America. All lost.


It would not be the last photographic loss. I did a three month journey from Kenya to South Africa and the studio used to develop all the films .. lost everything. I did not even see one image from the journey. The second loss hurt even more than the first and I stopped taking pictures for about a decade. It just seemed so futile. But this image of Kelly reminds me that I had a decent eye.


The repeated losses have driven a message hard into me. That everything can be disappear for no reason than… I rarely invest in objects. Anything can disappear and you have to get over it. If anything, digital photography is even more fragile. The idea of the corrupted hard drive, not having the second or third backup. At least there are a few images posted to Facebook and Instagram to give me some sense of my own history.

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