There are some people within our industry that love to see others fail, and for years now Jim Dyas has been the brunt of those people. Little did anyone know that he would stick with in, fight through all the smack talk and BS flung his way and come out the other side as one of the hardest working photographers in the grassroots ranks.
First off, some of you are going to think that I am off my meds for calling Jim one of the hardest working photographers in grassroots racing, and since you are entitled to your own opinion, go write your own article about it. The simple fact is that there are many hard-working men and women in our field, and yet Jim has managed to set himself apart. He may not be a household name to all of you yet, but I can promise you that he will be in the future.
How about a little background on Jim though? As I was standing at the top end of Orlando Speedworld last fall during the World Street Nationals waiting on cars to fly by, I had the opportunity to talk in depth with Jim and learn some things about this young man that I am willing to bet very few others knew. In my own smartass way, since I have been friends with Jim for years now, I made a flip comment like “did you eat paint chips as a kid?” and that is when I learned about the struggles that he faced growing up.
For those of you that didn’t know, Jim is actually lucky to be alive right now. He was born very early and was essentially the size of a soda can from what he described. There was a point when he was born that he in fact was dead and had to be revived. The prognosis for him was bleak to say the least. Jim spent time in the NICU before he was ever able to even come home. Home to his parents who happen to both be engineers, and his brother who also is extremely smart. Growing up, Jim didn’t have it easy when it came to school either, and eventually was home schooled.
Fast forward to years later and Jim got involved in the sport of drag racing. You could normally see him with Shane “The Thrillbilly” Stack at the track before he managed to make it on the media side of the wall. Now, we live in a day and time where cell phones take billions of photos and video each day and many a photographer start out using a cellphone before they get hooked into spending thousands, if not tens of thousands of dollars on high-end photography gear. And therein lies one of the issues that people seemed to have with Jim.
A few years ago, Jim started plastering terribly edited cell phone phones all over social media. They were over processed and didn’t look great, but at least he was doing something. I for one saw no issue with the fact that someone was taking cell phone photos, I just hated what they looked like. Apparently, others in the industry thought that taking phone photos was a kick in the face to “real media” and proceeded to whine and complain both publicly and privately about this. To this day I am still not sure what the hell they were worried about. Jim was out there creating content, sleeping in his car, and doing everything he could to make drag racing continue to be great. Yep, I said sleeping in his car, because what most people don’t realize is that unless you have sponsors or work for a specific outlet, you aren’t getting paid to be there. Promoters aren’t paying media people to show up and photograph their events. It is done on our own dime, so cost saving is a huge aspect.
Jim took all the hate in stride and just continued to do what he was doing no matter the opinion of others and it’s a damn good thing that he did. At one point over the last couple years I finally pulled Jim aside and made an attempt to show him how to edit photos on his phone with Photoshop. No more silly ass IG filters that make the photo look like 5-year-old kindergarten shit. It wasn’t long after that Jim finally picked up a DSLR and a couple of lenses. His first few outings were a learning experience, as they are for all of us that do this, though some jackasses have forgotten where they came from. Not deterred, Jim has continued to focus on the positive in an attempt to crack into the “media” world.
You may wonder why I am using the word “media” like I am, and the simple fact is that there is a difference between taking photos and being a member of the media. During the 2018 season, Jim and I spent a lot of time discussing what he needed to do in order to start “cashing checks” and I explained to him some of the steps he needs to take. He took that advice and ran with it. This past weekend at the U.S. Street Nationals he had his first ever coverage partner for an event. Donald Long has been a strong supporter of Jim and other media for years and made the decision to be part of Jim’s coverage. Jim had finally broken through that barrier.
Too many times there are young men and women in our industry that either aren’t able to drive, don’t want to drive, can’t crew, or whatever it may be, but have the love and drive to support drag racing. They are the people that want to see the sport grow and continue for generations to come. Jim, along with his friendly band of misfits that he hangs out with are all important in a sense to the future of our sport. While there are some that I personally don’t care for and would never work with, Jim isn’t one of them. He is a low key, soft spoken, young man that loves the sport of drag racing with a fire in his heart that exceeds most. He has garnered to trust and respect of a lot of drivers in the pits and promoters that are putting on races. Without the Jim’s of the world, you wouldn’t have people like me, because the fact is that we all started out somewhere, it’s just that some of us forget that along the way.
No matter the adversity that this kid has gone though in life, from practically not making it out of the hospital, to not always fitting in, to dealing with the internet trolling bullshit, Jim has weathered the storm and continues to. The only difference between last week and this week is that now there are people out there that appreciate his work and dedication enough to pay him some money for it as well. My hat goes off to Jim, and any other young person out there following their dreams and making shit happen. To those that follow the dream because of the love and not the check. Keep up the hard work and don’t ever lose the passion that you have. We all thank you!
Lastly, I thought this would be a good time to announce that Jim will actually be doing from freelance work for E3xtreme in 2019 as well. The drive that Jim has shown, along with his willingness to grow as a photographer has shown me that I can trust Jim to get the job done. While Jim will continue to grow his own brand and do what Jim does, there will be occasions that he will be working hard for us, including doing a full feature shoot for us soon. So as I said to a group of photographers last year privately “Jim will be cashing checks while half of you are sitting on the couch” guess I was right. Stop worrying about what the other content creator is doing and bust your own ass to get shit done!