Dealernews photographer attempts record paddle


The photo you see above is from the Autumn 2006 issue of the late, great Big Twin Dealer magazine. It’s the opening spread shot for a feature about Chopper Dave and is, in my opinion, one of the best photos we’ve ever run in one of our publications.

For my taste, it’s the perfect picture. The look on Dave’s face. The worn components of the lathe. The metal chips on the floor. When I look at it, I can smell that mechanized, oily, metallic smell of a machine shop. Dave looks at home.

Branimir Kvartuc is the photographer who made that picture, as well as many other pictures for our magazines. In fact, he’s shot many of my favorite images over the years — most of which are included on this page. Branimir is not just a photographer, I’d dare say he is an artist. I worked with him for many years at a daily newspaper called the Daily Breeze in the South Bay area of Los Angeles. Over those years, he and I worked on many stories together, stories for which he made fantastic, artistic and beautiful photographs. (Many of which appear in this post.)

Branimir is also one more thing: ballsy as hell. I appreciate individuals who flip the bird to the crap that life can sometimes pile on. In 2009 he was diagnosed and treated for cancer while living in Dubrovnik, Croatia (he has Croatian-American roots). He was given a clean bill of health, but after getting his diagnosis and while getting treatment he decided he wanted something more out of his life.

Later this month, Branimir, 38, will paddle 85 miles on a Stand Up Paddleboard across the Adriatic Sea from Venice, Italy to Pula, Croatia to raise money to buy medical equipment for a hospital in Dubrovnik. While being treated for the cancer, he discovered that the city did not have a PET/CT scanner, the device used to confirm the extent of his illness.

Here are Branimir’s own words from a story about his efforts in Croatia’s VRIME magazine, describing why he’s doing what he’s doing.

“While I was dealing with my medical issue, I saw that Dubrovnik is missing this important piece of medical equipment,” he said. “If I was Zeljko Kerum (Croatian version of Donald Trump) I would pay for the scanner from my own pocket, but since I am not, I would like to raise the money in this fashion. The PET/CT is a machine that is in my case was the decisive factor for recovery. I’m sure that will help thousands of other patients.”

Seems that he had that same epiphany that many people have when facing a life-or-death situation and decided to do something about it. I understand this completely. Having worked with Branimir on the newspaper and here at Dealernews, I’ve gotten to know him well enough to say that he’s a man of ideas. He’s always got plans for something.

I remember many years back, while on assignment with him in San Diego, Calif., he was telling me how he was going to get on the TV show Survivor and how he was going to win (he didn’t do either, but damn the plans sounded good). I’ve heard about his different business ideas. We’ve even discussed in great detail his ideas for setting up complex photographs. And more recently, he told me about a new website he was planning to launch. And in 2007 he launched, a social networking site for surfers and surf photographers.

Now he’s going to be paddling across the Adriatic Sea. Damn. Not sure how many people know about the sport of Stand Up Paddle boarding, but it’s exploding in popularity across the United States. Originating in Hawaii, SUPs can be used on lakes, rivers, oceans and surfed just like a surfboard — only standing up. Branimir got interested in the sport before moving from California to Croatia and took it with him to the Motherland. As the first SUP boarder in Croatia, he received a ton of attention and has since gotten even more after announcing his fund-raising efforts. The local media there regularly post pictures of him as he out and about on the water. As part of his training, he’s been doing regular training paddles of between 20 and 50 miles.

SUP boarding is a pretty dang physical sport by itself. Throw in the open sea, wind, swells, rain, whatever, and you raise the game considerably. Now do all this over a distance of 85 miles. Again, damn. Here’s a video he shot on one of his training days.

I wish him nothing but the best in his efforts as he is not only an amazing photographer, a gutsy go-getter type (and a little goofy sometimes), but he’s genuinely a nice guy. If you’ve been to Dealer Expo the past two years, you may have seen him running around shooting pictures for our Show Dailies. If you’ve been on the cover of Dealernews over the past few years, you may have worked with him on the cover and inside photos.

He’s taking donations in hopes of raising about $62,000 that will go toward the cost of purchasing the PET/CT scanner. Visit the Libertas Foundation and click on the Donate button if you wish to give.

Here’s another link to a story about Branimir’s fund-raising efforts.

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