Ahh! The road trip…
I love road trips, even more since I realized it is really just about hitting the open road and just taking it all in. No expectations or agendas. To me it’s about putting myself out there and enjoying the moment, sometimes with company, my dog Buck, though he has since passed, or just by myself. I still like to spend time alone, guess a career in photojournalism forces you to be comfortable with yourself. Having the choice to stop when and where you choose for as long as you decide is a big plus when going ‘solo’. There are times. also, when sharing a day on the road, in the company of another person makes the trip that much more memorable for you and them.
I was initially influenced by a colleague of mine at the newspaper who used to disappear on his days off and return with some great photos from his travels on the road. I mistakenly concluded that all you had to do to find that great photo was to drive. It wasn’t about that at all. My colleague had been down these roads many times and now knew where and when the opportunities for his ideas may arise. The point being that he also had to drive some of these roads for the first time at some point as I do now and maybe you will soon.
Spontaneous road trips get my adrenaline pumping. Deciding the evening before is adventurous, just enough time to gather some things and ponder which road to start driving on, but close enough so it doesn’t become over planned. Some trips are a few hours, a couple of days or even a week on the road. My longest road trip started in Calgary and ended in Cabo del Sol, Mexico, with my younger brother. No big plan, no reservations, no firm arrival date, just a destination our passports and some cash.
I prefer to be well on my way when the sun begins to glow on the horizon, a big Tim’s beside me and my favorite tunes on my ipod. Sure the gear is handy, it’s hard to leave it behind when you’ve worked for a newspaper, but my goal is not about searching for great photos these days. I have spent many days endlessly scanning the landscape for that one photo, logging the kilometers and growing more anxious as the hours passed and I hadn’t found it yet. You know that elusive career making photo is waiting out there for you on the side of the road somewhere, you just can’t find that road. Your mind starts to tell you “why bother’ next time an opportunity to hit the road presents itself. What you have to hear is ‘why not’ and leave your expectations at home. These used to be wasted days, but now they are days I look forward to. Leaving with no agenda or quota for photos. Suddenly the world is anything but dull and boring as I drive.
Maybe someday I’ll drive by that career making photograph too, good thing the gear is in the back.
“The real world does not conform to our expectations and predictions.” Peter London