Friday, June 8, 2012

A Photographer: Cabins, Tents, 4x4's, Vans, Motorcycles, Hitchhiking, Toilets, Showers, Garages, Airports, Cheap Motels, Coffee, Bicycles, Hostels, Doctor Bills and Maps

For the past decade I've dedicated myself to photography and the vagabond lifestyle. I will start this sequence with one thought.... Once a photographer dedicates their life to the art, it becomes a beautiful struggle. This is the road I took to make the imagery that fuels my soul.....

Wondering how I'm going to get home is a feeling I have had for 10 years.
Motorcycle backpacking is a sport that will never catch on because it's ridiculous. Imagine squatting 80 lbs 2000 times per day and wanting to keep going further.
Life on the road out of a small 4x4 is not ideal and it makes you look like you're from LA
It's more waiting than anything. The only reason my pictures are better than a tourists is because I can wait and endure pain and solitude.
Yes it's beautiful, but when you travel alone you have to find worthwhile material that is interesting to photograph. It's my money I'm spending,  and when I'm not producing imagery, it pisses me off. It's not like I have a bunch of pro athlete friends who show up for fun at 4 am. If I did they would have a day rate just to show up to photo shoots. "Proper" photo shoots involve long days that never end, tireless attempts, paid models and clothing that is expensive. 
I take one for the team every time nature calls. 
Every time a photographer points the camera at them self they want to tell you a story of how cool it is to be there.  If you want to sleep on jagged rocks and have all the blood rush to your brain than it was really cool!
Pulling over on the side of the road during a rain storm is smart especially when have 20 more hours to drive and all your CD's are scratched.
I paid $250 a month to turn my buddies garage into a living space for 15 months. Every morning I'd wake up and wonder why everybody paid big dollars to live in San Diego..... Then I realized not everybody wants to sleep in a sleeping bag for half a decade which is what ended up happening.
People don't realize what it's like to live in a tent in the High Sierra for weeks. No cars, no idiots, no drunks, no hipsters, no corporations. It's like being a millionaire without having a penny in your pocket.... PS that penny would be too heavy to carry the whole way anyway.
Living in a van makes you want to be an Oompa-Loompa. 
Food is great when you have it... An outdoor photographer is underpaid considering the suffering. They get paid whenever the company they are working for gets paid which is always 6 months late. The industry is set up for the people that buy the photographs, not for the people who take the photographs.
Gas was $4.50 per gallon, I broke down 3 times in one week, got into $5000 debt in 3 months and everybody kept emailing me saying.... "Wow, you are so lucky"
Dogs will make a human feel happy no matter the situation. This isn't even my dog. I'm dogsitting him for some climbers who offered to cook me dinner that night. 
You'll spend the most time figuring out where to go if you actually live on the road. When you arrive a location you've never been to before, you have to meet people and strike up a bargain..... "So you wanna get up at 4 am, repeat things over and over and then do it again at sunset." PS... You have to wear bright colors and it has to be current and modern adventure clothing. Magazines don't like blue jeans!
I had spent so many days traveling by myself that when I found this cabin in the middle of nowhere that I felt like a 21-year-old sorority girl going to Las Vegas for the first time. 
I would rather get there with my own skill than factor it in on an invoice. If I can't handle every aspect of the adventure than I don't consider it pure. Call me old fashioned.
Finding free internet on the road is like looking for free camping... Hard but rewarding once your quarters are still in your pocket.
Shaving your face in your mirrors and brushing your teeth in McDonald's is standard.
Airports..... Rare for me, but another form of feeling like a caged animal at the zoo.
I feel like we invented skinny jeans. Wearing thermal pants around camp is my way of saying.....this is all I got left in the clean pile.
Breaking down and swiping credit cards for cheap motels becomes a way of saying you care.
A pawn shop bicycle and a gallon of tap water is the only way to travel in Australia. The best part of the trip is acquiring the accent!
On a serious note.... It is very rare in life to have a friend who pushes you to be your best in this lifestyle..... Greg Stahl and I have been traveling together on most of these trips for the past 7 years. I feel very lucky to have someone who can adventure and value the fact that we have to document at the same time. 
Wondering why my friends aren't up at sunrise..... Photographers are a pain in the ass but they will make your ass look good if they actually know what they are doing. 
Like I said... Finding internet is crucial.... The strip club is just off to the right, but who has money for that!
Like I would actually pay for firewood.... (Photo: James Halfacre)
Yet again I'm wondering why I'm there and what I'm shooting. Reading the National Park guide. 
Who doesn't love staying in hostels... I got a taxidermist to stuff and mount a bed bug above my current fireplace.
Everybody who knows me has seen this image.... Here I am talking to some guy on the toilet and downloading images.  Free electricity is also very nice when you're on the road.
When you live in your car, you have to always be on the move.... Getting kicked out of parking lots at 2 am is the standard. It's romantic in theory but the reality is a divorce waiting to happen, especially when you live in a big city.
Coffee becomes a ritual.... When you make it sitting in the dirt, it tastes a lot better.
I spend more time working on my machines than I actually spend using them.
No therapist necessary..... I just figure myself out in the garage.
The simple life is difficult to obtain because it goes against everything you've been taught.
Baths and showers..... I once went 33 days without either because I was so pumped to adventure and get images.
These are the days when you wonder what the hell you're doing... You soon realize everybody else in life is wondering the same thing.
My parents sent me out my mountain bike when I arrived in Las Vegas.... This was like being 16-years-old and getting to drive a girl to the movies for the first time.
Living in 20 square feet is tough.... You learn to move slow and very methodical. 
At the end of the day.... Each day is there for you because you chose to put yourself in that situation.
The planning involved on trips that last for many months is intense. It's best to have a basic skeleton of an itinerary and plan to have no schedule based off of that.
You will appreciate a good meal once you spend 10 years doing this. You don't  feel good about $2 canned tamales but you also know it's the best thing in the world at the same time.
These moments are great.... You get there and wonder.... What the hell am I supposed to do with this?
You do get those hero moments when you look like a badass.... Then you have to go to your crappy job in the morning and get humble. (Photo: Greg Stahl)
Looks awesome right.... I was throwing up all night from food poisoning. Being sick in the backcountry is literally one of the worst experiences ever.  (Photo: James Halfacre)
Drying out your sleeping bag on your tripod becomes a daily routine
Hitchhiking is cheap, fun and a huge pain in the ass, especially when you smell like you haven't showered in 3 weeks and this was the case. People would pull up, flip us off and then shift into second.
Free camping and a free table are rare in California..... Like they didn't know that it made a great bed....
Dislocated shoulder, no health insurance, free helicopter ride and a hot nurse.... Things seem to be just fine! (Photo: Greg Stahl)
Wishing that people would just leave me alone!
There are very few places in this world that haven't been visited. Reading about the people who actually get a kick out of the same experiences that make me grin at a cabin I found.
Psychos get up at 4 am... There is nothing cool about it.... The graveyard shift sucks!
At the end of the day you wonder why you are doing it..... You soon realize that it's a lifestyle that very few people get the opportunity to pursue. It has been my experience that this path is a very complicated simple life. The imagery that is a result of this lifestyle will never show the true passion involved in maintaining the constant search. This set of personal images is my attempt to shed some light on the dedication involved to live like this.