Thirty-six hours ago, vurbmoto was just a fond memory and Wes Williams was just a dude I’d dreamed of collaborating with. He was someone I’d always hoped to get a second to chat with, just to get a few bits of advice. I’d never spoken with Wes, never had the chance to meet him, and he certainly had no clue who I was. I was just a photographer in a sea of talented shooters, whom would all kill to work with someone of his caliber. All I knew was his name was synonymous with rad shit and I wanted to be part of it. After all, only the elite made it on Vurb back in the day.
Today, after a crazy series of unexpected events, I get to tell you all that he’s now my roommate for the next three weeks in a town I’ve never visited, in a state I’ve never seen. I’ve worked side by side with him for the last three days while preparing to relaunch Vurb. I’ve watched him go through 2 days of highs and lows of this comeback and have had an opportunity to see how much it means to him. Sitting here it’s still surreal, but we’re here.
How was I sitting at home with my dog and wife in California, dreaming to shoot photos full time just three days ago, yet today I find myself sitting across the table from Kyle Cowling and next to Wes Williams working on content for VURB?! I’m still in awe!
Looking back to January 7, 2020, I found myself sitting at my desk, 30 years old, facing the realization that I’d just spent the last five years of my life at a shit job, selling insurance plans to people who could barely stand speaking to me. I had become a number and meant little to anyone other than profits I’d help make for the CEO. I knew I had to do something, ANYTHING, to change my life, and I had to do it now. I had reached a low point and wasn’t sure where to turn.
So, in a “fuck it” moment, I took a long shot and reached out to cinematographer, Kyle Cowling, with a simple offer. “Kyle! Just wanted to offer if you ever need another set of hands or someone to lug gear around, a second shooter, whatever… I’d love the opportunity to help out…”
I don’t know that I even really expected to hear back from him. I mean, how many guys just like me are lined up to get a foot in the door? To get a taste of the other side, a glimpse behind the curtain, if you will. How many times has he heard this before, and how many times has it ever really worked?
A few days roll by and I’ve heard nothing back. He’ll never respond, and who could blame him? Sure, my mom tells me my photos are great, but I’ve never been published, I don’t have thousands of followers. Why would he bring me on?
“Yo, dude! Shoot me a text sometime… I may have some projects coming up that I can use you on.”
Oh my god. I think I shit myself, I’m pretty sure I did. Either way, it worked. He actually replied. An artist whose work I’d been following for nearly a decade had invited me to come along. I wasn’t sure where this was headed but I knew it was the right direction. This long shot, a proverbial Hail Mary, would be the start to a great friendship, a working relationship, and what eventually led to me typing this journal entry.
Over the course of the next few months I would work my ass off to make this work. All I knew was that this was my shot and I would not let it slip away. The next 90 days proceeded at lightning speed as I found myself thrown in to the deep end, working with KC on the kind of projects that weeks ago I’d have felt privileged to have even been a fly on the wall.
Fast forward to March 4, 2020, a mandatory state-wide stay at home order was issued due to COVID-19. Dirtbike racing had been postponed with no set date of return. Teams were closing shop, riders were taking time off, nobody could leave their homes. Isolation became the new normal, and it wasn’t optional. Just when I felt things were getting going, the world stopped.
I stayed hopeful during this time that the races would resume like usual and this would blow over quickly. March came and went, April rolled by and we’re well in to May before any word of a plan to return had come about. When they finally announced racing would resume, with all seven remaining rounds to run in Salt Lake City, I didn’t know what to feel. Sure, I was stoked that racing was coming back, but also gutted knowing that my involvement was likely about to come to a screeching halt. This ball just got rolling and now the industry was all leaving California behind and would be quarantined for a month in SLC. Damn.
I got the phone call from Kyle on Tuesday, May 26 at 9:46 p.m.
“Hey, dude, any chance that you want to leave with me tomorrow at 4 a.m. to intern for vurbmoto for the next few weeks? Wes has this idea….”
Cue jaw drop.
“Hell yes, I do! Let me run it by the boss, she’s right here.”
We agreed that I couldn’t pass this up, I have to go. It’s was going to be tough, but this is the call I was hoping for. For the next two hours I packed and prepped, and caught about 20 minutes of sleep before leaving my home at 3:45 a.m. to make our 4:00 a.m. departure. We made it to Salt Lake City in 9.5 hours and headed immediately to the COVID-19 testing site to gain clearance to cover the races.
I’m sure you have many questions about how all of this went down, but I’m at my word count. Keep an eye out for part two for more of my story and what’s happening during our stay in Salt Lake City!
Cheers to Wes, Kyle, and the rest of the Vurb crew! Welcome back, boys!