Saturday, September 6, 2008

Reel on Wheel


"Stop & Stare..." Yeah, that's basically what Kevin Connolly gets when he moves around on his skateboard. Having being stared at ever since birth, photographer Kevin Connolly, a 22 year old Montana native, turns his disability to an opportunity. He has travelled to 15 countries, 31 cities and taken 32,000 photos of the 'watchers' on his skateboard. Why on a skateboard? Well, Connolly was born without legs. Doctors told him it's a "sporadic birth defect".

So now, imagine this, you're on a skateboard, with no legs, using only your hands to propell yourself. How on earth are you still gonna take pictures? (I can't even take a freaking good picture standing still!) Plus, taking someone's picture who's staring at you,...won't it make them feel uncomfortable? How does Connolly do it?

Well, this is how he does it: Connolly holds the camera near his hip and looks in the opposite direction. And since the camera's viewfinder isn't within his control, he memorises how to frame shots from his street-level perspective. Hence, most of his shots are taken on the move.

It was through these pictures, that sparked the idea of "The Rolling Exhibition" which showcases Connolly's collection of photographs, sponsored by ASMSU and is free and open to the public. (It was held in Washington DC by the way :P)

Funded by his winnings as a silver medalist in X Games' skiing competition (yes, he's a skiier too, an extreme one :P) as well as a grant from MSU, Connolly bought a round-trip airline ticket that took him from LA to New Zealand, the Pacific Rim, Asia and throughout Europe. It was this second trip that he shot thousands of digital images which he had showcased at his "Rolling Exhibition".

Through his travels and pictures, Connolly not only saw the world, but in the process, he discovered something about the watchers and himself.

"While these people have, on the surface, an expression of pity or sadness or curiosity, looking at thee legless guy on a skateboard," he says to Kevin Sites of Washington Post, "at the same time, they're opening themselves up; they're incredibly vulnerable." And capturing all these 'real moments' is the Holy Grail for every photographers.

Personally, Connolly is a great reminder to me that obstacles aren't obstacles, if we don't see them as obstacles. See obstacles (or brick walls) as opportunities. And use them to improve your life.

Remember this: God only helps those who help themselves :P

Some of the photos at the exhibition:

[For more, go to: www.therollingexhibition.com. Make this your must-do today. You won't regret it.]

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