Road Trippin’ Coming Up
The idea for a road trip has been in my mind for many years now. I have always wanted to just pick up and go with no idea where the road will take me. My desire to do this was only countered by the fear that it would end up becoming something less than extraordinary, with no feeling of accomplishment when I returned. Until recently, it had just been some fantasy furnished by the likes of Hollywood. Needless to say some of my favorite movies growing up were in fact based on road trips…Dumb and Dumber, National Lampoons Vacation, Road Trip (duh, no brainer), and Tommy Boy. These of course being over the top comedies with no real basis for the journey other than some crazy plot line filled with laughs. Then I read “Into the Wild” by Jon Krakauer, about Chris McCandless, a college grad who just packed up and left on some romantic idea to become a transient and live off the land in Alaska. While it was a great book (with a sad ending), It made me think more of this journey as a way of finding yourself, without the distractions of relationships, friends or everyday problems back home, just you and the road and no where to be but where you are in the moment.
After graduating college, I received my first SLR camera as a present for finishing a college degree in four years like everyones supposed to do. Now it was time to go out into the world, get a job with my degree in mind, but wait…Do I really want a 9-5 sales job calling people asking them to buy something that they don’t need, to climb a ladder to where I’m telling new graduates how to sell stuff that people don’t want and most certainly don’t need. No. I had gone through four years of college and felt I had nothing to show for it except a sheet of paper and a few memories, and a new camera. Well at least I got a camera out of it, right!
A few months into my senior year of college, on holiday I went down to Miami with family and just happened to step into the gallery of world-renowned landscape photographer Peter Lik. For those of you who have not seen his work, he creates these massive, colorful, majestic landscape images that only the upper class of the world could probably afford. Now I loved his work, it inspired me to even want a camera. I figured hey it doesn’t look that hard to do! Well, I got my camera and started shooting, and shooting, and shooting, and finally realized, Hey this is hard! My images weren’t terrible, but they weren’t great either. So I dedicated my time to reading up on and studying the work of the masters of photography, both of the film days (Ansel Adams, Edward and Brett Weston, etc…) to those who have brought their work into the new digital format that has taken over.
Fast forward a year and a half, here I am today, back to thinking about a road trip. I had become tired of photographing Eastern Pennsylvania. I have become stuck in a photographic rut, shooting the same thing in similar conditions for too long. I feel as though I stay in my comfort zone too much, I need to learn how to take photographic risks, find something new to photograph, in a new and inspiring way. Now it has all come together, I had always wanted to take a road trip, now I have a purpose for one. My fear of it becoming a forgetful, unfulfilling experience has been squashed. I am going to travel to the Southwest, where all the greats had come to be inspired by big skies, golden light, and geological formations galore. All great photographers seemed to have taken a journey to somewhere that they felt would inspire them, Adams travelled to Yosemite throughout his whole life, Weston travelled constantly to the dunes of Oceano. While I am excited for this trip of a lifetime, I am also fearful that I will not accomplish what I set out for, so I have to set a well established purpose for my trip.
1. To become inspired by my surroundings and find my photographic vision once again.
2. To find purpose or meaning in my subjects and discover how they can relate to each other.
3. To become a better photographer.
4. To find meaning in my own life, through my obsession, photography.
5. To rid myself of fear for the unknown. To take risks and hopefully surprise myself.
6. To take some freaking awesome photographs!
Now all I have to do is hop in the car, head due west and find myself through the lens of my camera and the click of the shutter. T-minus two weeks…