Powersports Photographer Wayne Davis inducted in to the International Snowmobile Hall of Fame
Hall of fames exist to honor the most talented of any particular sport or profession. These shrines also are constructed to recognize not only those individuals who were elite performers at the activity they participated in, but also those contributors and pioneers who furthered the sport and helped enhance its legacy for generations to come. The snowmobile industry has its own hall, the International Snowmobile Hall of Fame (ISHOF) located in Eagle River, Wis., and added four new members in 2011. One of those deserving individuals is Wayne Davis of Wayne Davis Photography.
He was inducted into the ISHOF on Sept. 17, 2011 as part of the “summertime snowmobiling” celebration held annually in Eagle River. The weekend festivities, open to all snowmobile enthusiasts, also hosted a past-inductees’ gatherings, special indoor seating at the vintage drag races, shopping poker runs, pontoon boat rides on the Chain O’Lakes, autograph sessions, gala receptions, banquet and induction ceremonies.
We’re highlighting Davis because he has contributed to BRP and many of its enthusiast brands (Ski-Doo, Sea-Doo and Can-Am) for the last 25 years. We recently spoke with Davis to get his thoughts on his ISHOF honor and joining the prestigious list of snowmobile industry icons. Davis admitted he was totally shocked when he notified of the honor by Scott Anderson, a member of the World Snowmobiling Headquarters board of directors. Here’s what else Davis had to say.
Can-Am Off-Road: When did you get started as a professional snowmobiling photographer?
Wayne Davis: I started in 1982 with another manufacturer covering their snowmobile racing and providing public relations photography. I believe it was around 1986 that I started working with Normand Prieur on public relations photography for the Ski-Doo brand and its oval racing efforts.
You’ve been doing this for almost 30 years, so what’s it mean to be a part of the International Snowmobiling Hall of Fame?
WD: It’s a huge honor to not only be considered but also to be amongst the people on the wall. To know that I’m a part of that and to know that that I’ve worked with almost everybody on the wall…it’s incredible and really hasn’t sunken in yet. It’s an honor to be recognized for doing something I love to do.
It seems for many professions, making the Hall of Fame is the culmination of a career, so where do you go from here?
WD: I’ll just keep doing what I love and keep moving forward. Every time I go out to do a photo shoot I give it my all no matter what I’m shooting. I still enjoy every minute of it.
You’ve always had a backstage pass with many off-road manufacturers, so to speak, to view new models and prototype vehicles as part of photo shoots and studio shooting. Did you feel privileged?
WD: It’s a huge honor to be entrusted with that type of info and many times just off your word. It’s enough for me, in my mind, to know that I know this information that I don’t ever feel the need to violate this trust. A lot of times I won’t even tell my own wife if I know it’s confidential.
Does seeing your work in magazines, on posters and in manufacturers’ product literature still tug at your ego and make you proud?
WD: It’s very rewarding and it never gets old. Every time I get an ATV magazine, for example, I look at the cover and look at the pictures and get excited about it. I still remember my very first cover for SnowGoer magazine. And there was the time we were going up to Northern Minnesota for an ATV trip and my son was along and I remember driving past a billboard with a couple of my pictures on it. I said, ’there’s a couple of my shots right there.’ He was astonished and said, ‘it’s unbelievable that you just drive by them.’ It’s cool to go to a magazine rack and be able to show your kids an image you took.
Over the years, you’ve literally captured off-road riding history for manufacturers, brands and individuals, what’s that mean to you?
WD: That to me is the source or inspiration of why I do what I do. Because of those people, I had a sense of history at the very beginning of my career. For example, if I was taking a picture of a snowmobile racer, I’d say ‘I know they’re young now, but in the future this image could capture history, something photographers do everyday. I want to make sure I cover this from every angle for the future of the sport and the person involved.
Does any BRP-related image stick out in your head as an especially memorable photo? Maybe it was a particularly funny image or challenging shoot that produced something stellar.
WD: There was a shot I did a couple of years ago I was shooting for Can-Am. After traveling all day, I had just arrived at the motocross track and it was dark. They were doing some night shooting and they asked if I could do anything right now. So, I brought out these flash units and had the guys go around this corner. For just showing up and being so impromptu, this shoot produced some really cool photos. I keep saying to my staff that I want those on my website, but the funny thing is we can’t find them.
I also have to say that going out on the Ski-Doo shoots is always great. They always hire such talented, backcountry riders and it’s hard not to take a good image with the products and riders they have.
When you’re a photographer, can you really retire? We don’t see you putting down your camera.
WD: I’m going to be taking pictures all my life. I’m blessed to say that my hobby is the same thing as my job. I may be able to choose to focus on a few different things.
Speaking of photographing other things, what else do you enjoy shooting or could you see yourself focusing on more after your career ends?
WD: It would probably be a little bit more baseball. I shoot some of it, but because I still play baseball I don’t get to shoot it as much as I’d like to. It’s another passion of mine and is virtually something you could do until the day you die. Of course there will be racing and that kind of stuff.