Time Has Changed Me, But Not Entirely
I first became serious about photography in 1970, and almost immediately had a fantasy about becoming an itinerant photographer. Walker Evans and the FSA photographers were my heroes. Even into my twenties, I was still holding on to the possibility. There were only three barriers to this becoming a reality — I had no money, I had a wife and kids, and I thankfully had a job that paid me so we could all eat with a roof over our heads.
That didn't, however, stop me from dreaming. I'd spend hours huddled over maps, planning potential routes. I could imagine days and days out photographing, following my whims and engaging the world.
I particularly remember how I'd get brochures from camper dealers and fantasize about a mobile living space. More importantly, I drew plan after plan how I would convert a camper's bathroom into a darkroom so I could at least develop film while I was out on the road. You can imagine how enthralled I was when I finally purchased an old, used copy of Weston's California and the West and read about his adventures with Charis during those trips on his Guggenheim project. If they could live and photograph out of an old car, I should be able to do it in a camper with ease! I even purchased a dilapidated 1963 Chevy pickup with a permanently attached camper for weekend use — although I never did convert it to a rolling darkroom. Eventually, reality won, I sold the camper, and settled into real life.
Fast forward to today. My almost 40-year-old dream is about to come true.
We are in the final stages of planning the 2013 LensWork Road Show — more about that in a few weeks. Part of the plan, however, will put me on the road for months at a time as I travel the back roads of America from venue to venue. We've purchase a travel trailer and are in the process of outfitting it to be a rolling . . . office. Who needs a darkroom? How times have changed.
Maureen and I head out for the first weekend test in our new home away from home.
I no longer have a corporate job, but we do have LensWork that needs daily attention. Fortunately, that's easy today in the Internet age — a theory which we proved last year with our first extended trip into Northern California. As long as we have a decent Internet connection, we can travel and not skip a beat in the production calendar. With Wifi and mobile hot spots, remote desktop computing, Skype, FedEx and UPS locations everywhere — and a terrific support team back in the office — there is nothing preventing me from embarking. Literally, a 40 year dream come true.
With production logistics tested and resolved, my next task is to develop the details of the photographic work I'll be doing as I travel. As always for me, I'm creating a project structure that will support the work and help with the organizational tasks. The research phase is well under way.
As the project develops and the travel starts next spring, I'll do my best to share what I learn. In the meantime, the maps are calling and I'm re-reading Weston, just for fun.
Brooks' books on photography and the creative process are available in print from Lulu.com, and as eBooks for Kindle or EPUB readers. As one of the membership benefits, these eBooks are available in their entirety to members of LensWork Online via download.