A pictorial legacy

Michael was excited about this book; for over two years it was his quest, and several times he messaged me for an opinion or help on something. But, sadly, he passed away on March 21, 2017, before it could be completed. His family and friends did a beautiful job of finalizing it for him in his honor.

Michael “Balls” Farabaugh was many things besides a photographer but that was his passion ever since he picked up his father’s camera at age 10, just after a near-death experience in the Canadian bush (pages 12–17). Two more two-week trips into the brush as a kid contributed to his survival instincts and love of the camera.

Photo courtesy of BIKER magazine archive

Another life passion was motorcycles. He rode two million miles on his journey while dealing with life head on. While I was Editor-in-Chief of BIKER magazine, he was my head photographer for 20 years. I can’t tell you how many events and bike features we did together but they were all a treat with never a harsh word. Many of BIKER’s and Easyriders’ feature bikes are displayed in Freewheelin’. There are photos and words on the history of Flatheads, Knuckleheads, Panheads, Shovelheads, Sportsters, Indians, Hendersons, Vincents, and more. He shot photos of hundreds of righteous bikes.

You know when you’re on the road and you see the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen but you don’t stop because there might be a better shot around the next curve? Well, about half this book is awesome scenery from everywhere cause Michael stopped on his journey and got the shots for us.

Michael’s adult-life nickname was Balls. He lived his life with the confidence and intelligence of a powerful man. Elliot Borin stated in his “Foreword—Memories of Us,” “Personally, I think he morphed from Michael to Balls for the simple reason that Balls just fit him… he was such a doggedly determined and fearless force of nature…”

Balls wanted this book to be just about images of motorcycles and the places they can take you. Believe me, he has many life achievements in fighting for bikers’ rights and their freedoms. Read the book; his good deeds are cleverly hid within.

(L.-r.) A gentleman and a Shawler—Photo courtesy of BIKER magazine archive

“True Friendship” is the title for page 208 where Balls explains that friendship means everything. There’s a list of thoughts he absorbed from volunteering most of his life to motorcycling and his encounters with family, friendships and life: “(1) Live in the presence of the moment. (2) Tell someone every day that you admire or appreciate them. (3) Think of what you have instead of what you want. (4) Ignore your negative thoughts. (5) Choose being kind over being right. (6) Listen. (7) Choose your battles wisely. (8) Let others have the glory. (9) Do something nice for someone else. Don’t tell anybody about it. (10) Remind yourself that when you die, your “in-basket” will not be empty. (11) Become more patient. (12) Agree with criticism directed toward you. (13) Smile. Meet a new person daily. (14) When setting your priorities, ask this question: “Will this matter a year from now?” And always respect the gift of Friendship.”

Balls’ family is like a second family to me and I think he had more friends than anyone else I know.

This book is a big 212-page 11”x13” format with paper so heavy you keep thinking two pages are stuck together. The quality is outstanding and will give you hours—no, weeks; no, a lifetime of viewing/reading pleasure. I’ve seen a lot of books through the years attempting to be this good but none has achieved this level of righteousness. It’s a little pricey but done right, like everything Michael did. If you knew him it’s worth it for the memories. If you didn’t it’s really cool to have a beautiful, expensive book of this quality on your coffee table or orange crate. I’m going to get Freewheelin’ for a Christmas gift for a special someone.

Freewheelin’: Motorcycle Journeys and Photographic Inspirations

By Michael Farabaugh

212 pages, $193



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