Listen: I’ve been taking long walks through the city to try and rid myself of the doldrums and bad thoughts that too much time indoors can inspire. I’ve taken to taking my digital camera and a single 135mm lens along with me.
I began to wonder if I could find the essence of Bangkok in its details. If all of the small things could add up to one magisterial whole. It’s a work in progress that may never progress past what it is at the moment–a good reason to go outside and walk and try to see things a bit differently, to notice again all of the small and large scenes that often pass by unseen. But I’m enjoying it, counting steps and pointing my camera at so many clichés, occasionally finding something unique and worthwhile.
This summer I took a number of road trips across the continental United States. I drove over 20,000 miles mostly along Interstate-80 and on various highways and dirt roads that branch off and away from it. I followed the old Lincoln Highway and pieces of the Oregon and Mormon trails. I followed the settlements that followed the mountains and game trails and most other migrations. East to west. I shot 150 rolls of film and developed them along the way in campsites and cheap motels. It was a wonderful experience and one that I was lucky to have.
These are some of the photographs I took along the way. I only brought black & white film with me, so it was nice to also have a digital camera for those small moments I wanted to preserve. An old Amish homestead in Wyoming. Carhenge, Nebraska. The carvings at Worden’s Ledges. The Great Salt Lake and the Canyonlands of Utah. Vast expanses of deserts and plains. The grandness and diversity and beauty of the land is hard to overstate, in all of its natural and manmade forms. I just wanted to share a few of these scenes. They aren’t meant to be precious or profound, but they’re still well worth hitting the road for.
Strange days, so I’m digging through my archives, looking at lost images and forgotten stories and edits. Trying to stay creative while holed up at home. These photographs are from a few years back during a winter vacation in Japan. I had challenged myself to shoot one roll of medium format film per day–12 frames–for the duration of the trip. The idea being that I would be more mindful of my frames, slow down, etc. The usual things people say when they say they want to shoot more film.
We traveled through Osaka, Kyoto, Kurashiki, Ginzan Onsen, and Tokyo. Plus stops in random towns and way stations along the way. I didn’t set out to photograph anything in particular; I mostly just wanted to observe more and be more considerate and considered. There were times I wished I had another camera on me, but for the most part it was an incredibly peaceful way to travel. Just an old Rollei and some sunshine (and rain and snow) on my shoulders. Here’s a small edit, a few years later.
As an addendum to my Things in Japan post, here’s another small little photo essay from Hong Kong. I’ve been enjoying walking around more in the cities I travel to. I used to do nothing but walk, but I’ve lived in Asia for 10 years now and things start to normalize after a while. You lose your sense of wonder and become detached. You watch more television and instead of going and exploring, you sit in front of your computer and answer emails and worry about your income over the next three months. The small things that gave you pause now feel simple and routine. These aren’t good ways to be. So there’s always this push and pull with creativity. You’re always battling yourself and your own worst impulses. So in Hong Kong I walked. Sometimes I would end up in familiar neighborhoods, and at other times I would find myself in a completely new area of the city. I tried not to check my phone. I tried to just wander, with the thought that if I found what I was looking for, then great. If not, then great. So here are a few quick images. Simple things. I was looking at patterns and density with small glimpses of respite within. Nothing much more.
From the temples of Ulawatu to the shores of Seminyak and into the mountains and rice fields of Ubud and beyond, Bali is a land of many splendors and wonder. It’s a bit of a cliche to say at this point, but it does feel like a magical place, despite the mass amounts of tourism that simultaneously give reason for and benefit from this magic. I went in not expecting to be moved by it, but I was wrong.
More than anything, Bali manages to retain a bit of mystery while being a completely open book to the casual traveler. There’s an element of history and spirituality to just about everything–archways carved from volcanic stone adorn traffic stops and temples and altars jut out from every corner on every street. The ground is littered with offerings and there’s a constant smell of incense mixed with rotting fruit. Large waves crash against wide stretches of sand in the south while to the east in Tulamben Bay you can walk directly into the water and dive to a nearby shipwreck.
Kuta and Seminyak are where the kids go to party. Jimbaran is known for its seafood and five-star beach resorts. Ubud is a land of hidden waterfalls and monkey forests and villas cloaked in overgrowth and orchids. And everywhere else feels just as unique and different as all the rest. No amount of photos would ever really do it justice, so here are just a few. Outtakes and selects from a few assignments I had while there. It took nearly a decade of living in Asia to finally arrive, but it was well worth the wait.