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Matinee: 'Richard Kelley -- Waiting' Share This on LinkedIn   Share This on Google   Tweet This   Forward This

12 March 2016

Saturday matinees long ago let us escape from the ordinary world to the island of the Swiss Family Robinson or the mutinous decks of the Bounty. Why not, we thought, escape the usual fare here with Saturday matinees of our favorite photography films?

So we're pleased to present the 126th in our series of Saturday matinees today: Richard Kelley -- Waiting: A Decade of Life in the Grand Prix Pit Lane.

Photojournalist Richard Kelley tells just one story in this 3:45 clip, but it will stick with you. And we're going to let him do the talking.

We'll just give you a little background.

Kelly got his start in photography when he took a Non-Verbal Communication course for journalism undergrads at Indiana University. He had to turn in a roll of film, which he shot with a Canon Canonet.

The story Kelley tells is about his haunting portrait of Francois Cevert at Watkins Glen in 1973

His professor told him to buy a camera because he was meant to be a photojournalist. He bought a Nikon FTN.

He studied the work of W. Eugene Smith, Henri Cartier-Bresson and Joseph Koudelka. "Tell a story" became his mantra. And a year after buying that Nikon he was shooting Forumula One races professionally.

The story Kelley tells is about his haunting portrait of Francois Cevert at Watkins Glen in 1973. We've already said too much. Besides this clip, he also wrote about it on his Web site.

Sure, it's incomprehensible what these drivers will risk for what seems such an ephemeral reward. We can't imagine they don't all walk away from it like Downton Abbey's Henry Talbot after the death of his rival on the track. That's a credible reaction.

Going back to the streets, to the track, to the oval, not so much.

But, as Kelley says in the video, he has spent a lifetime looking back at what those men faced and how they faced it and realizing that, no matter how tough life ever got for himself, "things can't be that bad."

The lesson he learned from these men when he was just 19 is that life can end in a few seconds. The exasperation, the tension, the bliss in their eyes is life lived fully, every second counting. Even every split second at those speeds.

Start your engines.

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