I kind of love taking pictures that are informal and catch the feeling of a trip, like old photos you see in a junk store and wonder who took them and why? I just got back from a trip home to Colorado from Washington State, racking up over 3000 miles through what I fondly refer to as the Great Wide Open, thank you Tom Petty.
A lot of people think the high sky empty spaces of Eastern Oregon, Southern Idaho, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, Colorado, Montana and basically all the western states, are empty and boring. Kind of like having to fly over the desert to get to Oz, aka the West coast, something to get past as fast as you can.
Into the great wide open
As a child visiting Indiana every summer to see my grandparents, getting through the Mojave desert from our Southern California home was kind of like that. Hot, terrifying and it was the DESERT. This was in the days when cars went slower and didn’t have air conditioning. We usually traveled at night those first few days, and it was mysterious and scary and included swimming at midnight in a Phoenix motel pool where the water was as warm as bath water.
Travel is so different now, you don’t see overheated cars on top of passes or cars in the desert with those canvas camel bags draped over the radiator. Now travelling through the empty is a pleasure and it isn’t empty either.
These places have tall skies and room to breathe and they are fascinating and filled with patterns and people if you know how to look. Growing up in my own version of the empty bright spaces in Southern California, I learned to love the arid almost desert east of Los Angeles and west of Palm Springs. I learned early to admire the shapes of the earth, the way brown hills look like giant paws and plowed fields look like quilting blocks. I’ve never lost my love of landscape.
I finally decided to do it differently. I wanted to see the world as a road tripper not a photographer and catch the ephemeral out of the window of my truck as we went flying by or pulled over on a highway shoulder with cars whizzing by, or just cruising down two lane black top back roads where I found all these fantastical wind turbines.
I started looking at a lot of the pictures I ‘snapped’ and the commonality was that I was looking for juxtaposition between man made and aggressive nature. These are places you have to be tough and fight to live, too much snow, too much heat, too much wind and so much beauty.
I have lots of other shots of more pastoral places but I think these dreamy post cards shots and old photo treatments are perfect to express the idea that we can only borrow the land, its not ours to keep.