Having Photographed

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I’m back. It’s been a while.

In November I arrived home in Montara, California after a ten-thousand-mile cross-country road trip which took me to twenty-four states spread over six and a half weeks. I drove through California into Nevada, then up into Yellowstone, then down to Denver, then across the Great Plains to Ohio, then Buffalo, then Pennsylvania, then back to Ohio before zigzagging south to the Florida Panhandle. From there it was more or less a straight shot back home.

It was a photography trip, of course, and I was doing my best to maximize the value of my time. I was stopping at military bases, Air Force Museums, roadside displays, all looking for nuclear weapons to photograph. But I was also trying to make a meaningful addition to my Zoo project and my Yellowstone project. And each night, often late, I would get to my room and, of course, make more photographs.

After these trips, when I’m back, trying to re-orient to the non-mobile pattern of normal life, I’m sometimes asked if I had fun on the rip. I lie and tell them yes, I enjoyed it very much. The truth is more complicated.

When I’m on the road most days are full—making images, getting to the next location to make images, ordering food, downloading images, charging batteries, planning the next day. There’s no room at all for anything that is not furthering my agenda. But is it fun? No, that’s not it at all.

Mark Twain once said (there are many made-up Mark Twain quotes and this may also be one) when asked if he enjoyed writing that he, in fact, did not enjoy writing but that he enjoyed having written. I think that nails it. Making photographs is work, sometimes hard work, unpleasant work. I don’t enjoy it at all, except later when I finish the images—and then I’m thinking about the next trip.

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