Shooting the Ultra Gobi 400km race for The Red Bulletin
THE RED BULLETIN PHOTO FEATURE: RUNNING THE SILK ROAD
I struggled with a conflict of compassion over commitment during this assignment. I was here, several thousand miles from home, for the singular purpose of capturing James’ story. But when your good friend lurches in from the cold, dark desert, shivering uncontrollably and repeatedly muttering ‘I just need to sleep’ you’re torn between helping them into their sleeping bag and getting the shot.
I kept telling myself that if I came away with just one good shot, it would all be worth it and that's why I chose to head out in the early hours with James, spending some 9hrs and 40km with him. I knew that I needed to see outside of the checkpoints, the safety of medics and race staff, to see him in the darkness and loneliness that occupies much of this kind of race.
When I look back at the images now and see his blank, vacant gaze behind the sunglasses as the sun rose that bitterly cold morning, I feel like I captured that. I mean, I didn’t see that at the time but the photo reflects what was really going on. I heard his shuffled, slowing and stumbling footsteps behind me. His incoherent speech and hallucinations as we traversed river bed and gorge. I could see the deep cold he was suffering as he drew his hood around his face, clenched his fists inside his gloves. This is where he was. This is where the story was. I would have liked to have experienced more of that but to my frustration it just wasn’t possible, with the constraints of location and logistics.