I was working with a local fashion designer shooting a calendar for her Fashion, Love, & Tattoos clothing line when I met her partner in that venture, Priest. I always try to bring some sort of film camera with me while I'm on a shoot, because I love and miss the fun of shooting with it even though digital is pretty cool. For this couple days of shooting, I brought along a medium format Pentax and Mamiya and threw some out of date film in it, taking shots of models and people at the location in the down time between models being ready.
This idea really impressed Priest, who said he considers me a craftsman of my trade. I really respect that, because not many people are aware of -or possess- an amount of passion anymore. We started talking about some other projects he has going (yes, we'll get to them all Priest) and tangentially ended up with the faces project. Priest's past experiences give him some amazing insight into the detail of faces, like slight changes that are so subliminal most people wouldn't ever catch on, like when people laugh honestly or to be polite. It expanded out to the Eastern Nebraska chapter (Love you all!) and would be able to go throughout the United States and into the European chapters with this project.
What is Bikers Against Child Abuse (B.A.C.A.)?
You may have seen something about them, as they're gaining massive press coverage since we've started talking about this project, but if not, this is what they are: a charity organization comprised of men and women who work with abused children.
BACA Mission Statement
Bikers Against Child Abuse (BACA) exists with the intent to create a safer environment for abused children. We exist as a body of Bikers to empower children to not feel afraid of the world in which they live. We stand ready to lend support to our wounded friends by involving them with an established, united organization. We work in conjunction with local and state officials who are already in place to protect children. We desire to send a clear message to all involved with the abused child that this child is part of our organization, and that we are prepared to lend our physical and emotional support to them by affiliation, and our physical presence. We stand at the ready to shield these children from further abuse. We do not condone the use of violence or physical force in any manner, however, if circumstances arise such that we are the only obstacle preventing a child from further abuse, we stand ready to be that obstacle.
They are really some amazing people, just from those I've met from the local chapter here in Nebraska. They're willing to do whatever it takes, whenever, to protect children from abusive perpetrators. They'll go to court, make a presence in a neighborhood, and even stand guard for the child. Really amazing stuff. And they're making things happen: perpetrators are going to jail because the kids aren't afraid to testify, kids are getting their lives back, and justice is being served.
This project falls in line at an opportune time, due to the press coverage that they've been receiving from news channels and social media. It's great coverage, because more people should know what they're doing. There is, however, the other level to those "feel good" news reports. Most of these men and women really aren't role models. They're drinking, partying, crazy sonzabitches that lead a true biker lifestyle.
I've talked with a few. Some come from abused childhoods themselves. Many are ex-military, and...well...I've heard stories about their time in service I wish I could forget. They're hard, rough around the edges, and have seen things I probably couldn't comprehend. Priest and I came up with a good phrase, or line if you will. Being around these people isn't like going to bike night at your local Hooter's on Wednesday night.
There's some danger here. Even though they're a charity organization, they still walk a fine line and maintain some agreements with the 1% biker clubs, needing to reinforce the fact they are a charity and not moving in on any given area. Members of BACA have been victims of retaliation from perpetrators, and there's always that threat present while you're out with a group like this.
So what is "The Faces of BACA?"
My grand vision here is to capture these men and women "in the moment." By that I try to get them into a mental place where they've been in a courtroom, or come face to face with a perp. I want to show that deeper, darker side. These people will do whatever it takes to protect the kids they're in charge of protecting. This is serious stuff: I need to show that. I'm also going to go through a variety of media: film, instagram, polaroid (I'm actually a pioneer in the-impossible-project), social media. You know, the lifestyle type situations and details that you only get being able to spend some time completely immersed in this environment and lifestyle.
I hope to hit at least a chapter in every state that they have one, and in Europe. Going over my project amount will help expand the scope and cover travel expenses (I'm talking to you, $1K donators). Skillful planning will get me to the most places in the shortest time.
Not anyone could do this project.
It takes a special kind of person to conduct a project like this. You have to be socially aware...aware of evident situations and events. You have to get a connection with a person...and then have them reveal that inner darkness they try to conceal. You need to quickly become part of the pack, and with me this is an honest event. These are my people: I relate to and understand them. And I really, really believe in what they're doing. With the video interviews and photos, I have to dig. They have to dig, and pull up those emotions and put them on display. It's some heavy stuff. Running through 4-5 of these in a night is physically and emotionally draining.
I'm confident in my abilities, though. Even with these challenges, I'm the perfect person to tackle this project. I understand the power structure and respect that. I ride as well, so while I'm at these chapters I can bond with everyone via some two wheeled therapy. Most importantly, I think I can dig into the inner person and bring it out for all of you to see.
Thanks for taking the time to read through this, and I'm really excited to meet the other chapters of BACA and share all of this with you when you contribute to this project!
Risks and challenges
The biggest problem I could see with this project is the cost of travel becoming an issue with the amount I have raised. We can't guarantee what prices will be to travel to so many areas, but I'm prepared to reach out to my networks to find ways to offset those costs: couch surfing, free meals, driving, backing locations together, etc.
There may be some delays in the release of information. Since these individuals (and BACA itself) wouldn't want to be misrepresented at all, everything is getting funneled through for approval. I have the best intentions to get approval as quickly as possible, but with the surge in awareness comes the surge in work to protect our kids.
TRIP SUPPORTER: You're basically supporting the costs for me to visit a chapter, so you'll receive exclusive digital photos from one city during shooting (after BACA approval), access to the "behind the scenes" website, listing in the thank you section of the book, and a hardcover copy of the book with an exclusive 8x10 print.
SUPER SUPPORTER: you'll receive exclusive digital photos from one city during shooting (after BACA approval), access to the "behind the scenes" website, a personalized thank you post card from Jeff Hug, special listing in the thank you section of the book, and a hardcover copy of the book with an exclusive 16x20 canvas print.
EUROPEAN SUPPORTER: Since you're essentially covering costs to visit the European chapters, you'll receive exclusive digital photos from that leg of shooting (after BACA approval), access to the "behind the scenes" website, a personalized thank you post card from Jeff Hug, special listing in the thank you section of the book, and a hardcover copy of the book with an exclusive 16x20 canvas print.
SUPER NEUTRO CRABBY PATTY SUPPORTER: I can hardly even comprehend how amazing you are. I'll visit you when the project's completed. We'll go out for a motorcycle ride, have lunch, and I'll share with you all of my personal stories and experiences from this project. You'll also receive exclusive digital photos from shooting (after BACA approval), access to the "behind the scenes" website, a personalized thank you post card from Jeff Hug, special listing in the thank you section of the book, my journal for planning, notes and journals during the trip, and a hardcover copy of the book with exclusive 16x20 canvas print and 3 8x10 prints.