One of my favorite things about being a professional photographer is jumping into different subcultures that invite you to see their world. This is what happened when I photographed the Steel Horse Sisterhood summit, an annual four day motorcycle event for women riders. The summit took place in Ouray, Colorado aka the “little Switzerland” of Colorado. Nestled in the valley between the Rockies Ouray has the look of a small Swiss town. You’d expect Heidi at any moment to come out and sing “The Hills are Alive”, but instead for a few days you can hear the roar of 50-75 Harley bikes riding through town. The summit serves “as an opportunity for women to meet and be inspired to grow their skills: spiritually, emotionally, physically, and mechanically” states Joan Krenning the creator behind the event. Each day of the event there’s an all day scavenger hunt, but on motorcycles. Women split up in teams, you’re given a map with checkpoints and then it’s up to the riders on which check points to ride to. You check off each point by taking a selfie and uploading it to social media. At night there’s a dinner for all the ladies with guest speakers discussing topics ranging from motivational to self-defense, followed by an award ceremony for scavenger hunt winners.
I jumped on the back of my friend’s bike and joined up with a group of ladies from Grand Junction. They call themselves the Colorado Steel Cowgirls and have been riding together for years. Within the first 30 minutes I understood the obsession that can set in when exploring on a bike. There are few things that can top weaving your way through the mountains under perfect weather with all five senses running on overload. It was like being in a 3D video game and I quickly felt sorry for all the poor folks in their cars for they didn’t know what they were missing! I loved the attention we received in every town as we rumbled through. Cell phones came out of pockets from onlookers taking photo ops for it’s not everyday you see a gang of gals cruising through your small town sporting bedazzled bikes and leather chaps. There was a clear passion and bond over riding for these women, I think people are drawn to that and couldn’t help but smile when we traveled through.
The last day I set up an outdoor studio at the perfect location thanks to Joan and her skills for seeking out gems in the rough. It was located in this miniature old west town that was only a block long and housed about seven permanent male residents. They gave us permission to shoot there and even ended up even assisting throughout the day. The women loved having a professional portrait taken of them posing next their pride and joy. I used my special photo lights making the shots a bit more dramatic and colorful. After the event the women could order the images via downloads and prints, many of which were posted on their social media pages.
Overall it was interesting to be a part of such a powerful and unique summit. To be visitor in this very friendly and tightly knit community of passionate riders. I understood so much more where their joy of riding comes from and the almost therapeutic effect it has on them. Thank you ladies for allowing me to be part of such a great experience and sharing your world with me for a few days.
For more information on the next summit coming up please visit SteelHorse Summit