Memories On Metal

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Like many of you, I don’t enjoy pictures of myself. My reason is simple: In photos and—let’s be honest—real life, I look a lot more like Keyser Söze than Butch Cassidy or the Sundance Kid. And though that’s quite not the look I’m after, especially as age sends my hairline farther and father north, it is the look I have. I can live with that. I just don’t need pictures of it.

Even when I worked for Powerboat magazine and running boats for photo sessions was part of my job, I never got used to seeing my mug in the pages of any given issue. And if by chance I made the cover, which blessedly happened just twice in my 15-plus years with the magazine? Pure squirmy, skin-crawling hell. (But my mom loved it because, well, that’s just what good moms do.)

Inherently camera-shy, the author finally found a photo of himself he can stand.

But thanks to Bob Christie, I finally have a photo of myself that I like. Strike that—I love it, so much I’m actually going to display it in my home. That’s because Christie, a dear friend of almost 20 years, sent a photo of me behind the wheel of his MTI 340X sport catamaran during the company’s fourth annual fun run to the Florida Keys last month. Christie has been gracious enough during the years to let me drive whatever boat he currently owns, and that included the famed Speed Racer cartoon-themed 44-foot MTI catamaran, for at least one leg of whatever boating event has brought us together.

What makes this picture, captured by speedonthewater.com chief photographer Pete Boden, so damn special that I can actually look at it without getting nauseous? It’s printed on aluminum. To make it happen, Boden works with a Brooklyn, N.Y.-based company called Aluminyze, which uses a dye-sublimation printing process to produce images on the lightweight metal.

Yes, it’s a well-composed, crisp image full of vibrant color. And, yes, it conjures memories of a very fine three-day weekend spent with Christie and his wife Madelyn, their longtime friends (and now my fast friends) Bill and Karen Compton and the entire MTI owners group. But getting it printed on aluminum, an option Boden offers for all of his work, put it over the top.

There is something about the way aluminum carries the image—and I can’t peg it to a specific quality or attribute but the luster is phenomenal—that makes it special. Plus, it solves the problem of framing. With an aluminum print, there’s no need for an expensive pretty frame, much less a cheap ugly one.

And, OK, I flat-out dig the heft of the thing. It feels substantial.

So despite that I’m in the image it carries, this aluminum print—a wonderful gift from a cherished friend—will be displayed in my home. I’m excited about it, and I can’t believe I just wrote that. Even though I still look more like Keyser Söze than Butch or Sundance, even as my hairline continues to head north, I love it.

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