“The early bird catches the worm,” has been an attendant theme throughout my life. I’m not necessarily driven, nor feel that I need to get my piece of the pie before anyone else, but I simply learned early that my brain works best in the morning. To be more specific, I am most productive from the time I get out of bed until around noon. After that all bets are off. This self-knowledge undergirded by the proper motivation – by grades, pay, promise of praise, or whatever – led me to make choices to leverage productivity with my own noodle. When possible I have adjusted schedules and appointments accordingly: I took college labs and classes that required concentration in the morning; I suggested that we finish the Scrabble game in the morning; I looked into - and hopefully solved - tough problems and wrote papers and responded to emails in the morning; I scheduled meetings and appointments that I could coast through for the afternoons and evenings, better yet during mealtimes, etc. And so it is as I get out of bed at 3:40 AM this morning. I have mental activity to do.
The Jeep is already packed. I feed my pup and traveling companion, Lola, then splash water on my face and brush my teeth. The Texas weather is already too warm for hot coffee and so I bought a giant (32 oz.) energy drink last evening to help jolt me into focus this morning. I’m on the road by 4:00 AM, heading from my home in Dallas toward Wichita Falls and then Amarillo on U.S. Route 287. I understand that I could take this particular road more or less from Port Arthur, Texas to Choteau, Montana save for a break through Yellowstone National Park. But today I’ll only take it as far as Amarillo where I’ll hit Interstate 40 westbound. I have a reservation at the La Quinta Inn in Gallup, New Mexico for the evening. Lola can stay there in the room with me. And so I’m faced with thirteen or fourteen hours of just the basic animal needs (of me and Lola) to care for, views of prairie and farmland and small towns and large towns, songs to Shazam on SiriusXMU, AND my thoughts. Tomorrow will be similar except for the scenery as I complete the drive through New Mexico, Arizona, and California on into Los Angeles.
I’ve always loved road trips. But since 2001 when I adopted a more creative life (i.e., I left the corporate world en lieu of creative pursuits), these road trips have become a touchstone of my life. Maybe it’s the isolation and not having anything to turn to for distraction. Or maybe it is the open-mindedness of being on an adventure and traveling great distances that jars something lose in my brain, or lets me go off unencumbered on tangents and to consider options and give them the time for refinement and contemplation. Without adequately putting my finger on it, these road trips have consistently and dependably provided the backdrop to framing, brainstorming and finding answers to some of the biggest questions and challenges that I’ve crossed in my creative life. Examples of road trip mental fruits have included: I came up with and fleshed out concepts for several big photography projects; I’ve pre-written and brain-stormed 100s of writing topics; I worked through many of the details of writing my Master Thesis; I’ve thought extensively about photographic presentation and where I think it is going in the future; I’ve thought a lot about street art and other mediums of art and how these fit into what I want to do as an artist; and on and on. In other words, the conceptual dimensions of my work have often been sorted as part of a road trip brainstorming session.This is without mentioning the myriad personal questions and challenges that get their own resolution through road trip mindshare.
For this trip from Texas to California, there are a number of conceptual topics that I traverse.(I am sure that these will find their place in this space as they precipitate out.) But on this trip, while contemplating concepts, I do something very non-conceptual. I keep my point and shoot camera at my side and whenever instinct, desire, or whimsy dictate, I take a photograph. Not fussy photographs. Just point and shoot: simple visual documentation of passing instances. Of course doing this rapidly starts to take on conceptual dimensions as I contemplate the camera as a mimetic recording tool and how the factors of optics, sensors or film, shutter speeds, apertures, sources and directions of light, perspective, choice of subject, timing, etc. all become simultaneously the factors that limit and slant the documentary point of view as well as give an entry point for those who choose photography as an artistic medium. Nonetheless, I continue to spontaneously shoot from the hip for the duration of the trip regardless of my mind/road trip meanderings. The result is for me a connection with the century and a half of human desire and ability to record – more or less – what we see. Primal photography.
Follow this link to a number of the shots that I took on this road trip.