ANIMAL’s original series I Should Have Shot That! asks photographers about that one shot that got away. This week, Scott Lynch confesses his excitement over a particular motorcycle invasion.

I wish I shout everything I did in my teens and 20s, mostly so I’d be able to remember what the hell happened last night (times ten thousand), but also to show my kids, after some dignity- and authority-preserving editing, what my life, and this city, felt like in the 1970s and ’80s.

Now, I shoot a lot of street art and graffiti, tags, stickers, throw-ups, murals. I see it, I shoot it. Events, exhibitions, the Afropunk Fest, the Halloween Dog Parade, the Fountain Art Fair… Occupy Wall Street. Mostly just for fun, to try and tell a single story through all these still images, but to also give myself a task, a purpose, a reason for being there. I usually way over-photograph, but even when my camera is tucked away in my bag, so I “miss” shots all day long–that old guy clutching the “Thank You” bag to his chest, that pack of teenage girls, but because I already take hundreds of photos every week as it is, really, no great loss.

There was one moment though, I missed because, honestly, I just totally froze.

Call it “The Day of Thousand Motorcycles.”

It was sometime during the fall of 2011, probably late October, back when Occupy was in full force in Zuccotti. You’d sometimes stumble upon marches in unexpected places downtown, so that’s what I heard when I heard THE ROAR.

Most of these were those ninja-y Japanese and Korean sports bikes, it was more like a buzz. A LOUD buzz, like a mess of mosquitoes nesting in your ear, except your ear is the size of the West Village.

And then I saw them: hundreds–and hundreds!–of bikes shrieking down Seventh Avenue South, popping wheelies, gunning engines, an explosion of energy and sound, color and style, and, most impressive, a complete fuck-you-ity.

A giant middle finger to me, to all the lame sidewalk strollers, to every other vehicle on the road, to everyone on the planet not dope enough to be a part of what THEY were all about. It was awesome, in that word’s most elemental sense.

And it lasted forever! There were many, many blocks worth of bikes–a half-mile’s worth?–packing the Avenue, with plenty of those big-ass trikes, crazy four-wheelers, sidecars, and tricked-out choppers thrown into the mix to make the scene righteously cacophonous, both aurally and visually. My brain literally could not keep up with the spectacle. Because what I should have done, what I wished I’d done, was jump into the middle of the street, hold my camera up high, and just start shooting uptown as fast as I could as all of these monsters screamed by me.

What I did do instead was stand there with a huge smile on face, gaping like an idiot.

Yes, even if I had leapt into fray most of those shots would likely have been blurs, and maybe the frame wouldn’t have been able to communicate the immensity of the thing, its sheer bad-assery. But you never know…. And, now, of course, I never will.

Scott Lynch is a New York-based photographer who always has that photo we’re looking for. Should Have Shot That! is illustrated by the amazing James Noel Smith.

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