film

Weekend in the Sierras

I made the old familiar trek up the 395 to Bishop for Memorial Day weekend, but this was the first time it wasn't a climbing trip. I traded my climbing shoes for hiking boots and my Mark II for my ae1. We spent the weekend venturing up and down the Sierras hitting everywhere from the temple crag to the hot springs.

Check out a few snaps from the trek along with the faces of my friends who made the weekend so enjoyable. 

The Last Paris Post

Has it really been almost two months since I was in France? I've been meaning to get this film developed, but life kept getting in the way. I packed two rolls of 35mm film with me before I left, and wish I had more photos to show for it, but my trusty old ae1 decided it would only work sporadically throughout the trip. When I have more time and a little extra money I'll take that in to get fixed too. 

Here are my top 9 photos from what was developed. The first four are from our voyage to Versailles, the following four are from Paris, and the last photo is a digital shot I snuck in since it's a personal favorite from my last night in my favorite city. 

Moments

There's a feeling I get while on the road that's hard to explain. It's not a unique feeling; poems, songs and entire novels have been written about it.  It's the sensation when the sun is out, the windows are down, the radio is up and the past and future cease to exist. It's the act of fully enjoying that very moment, somehow both excited to be moving and content with where you are at the same time.

It's taken me a while to post this particular journal entry. I had a whole piece written out about my experiences over the past several months that have taken too long to write and even longer to decide not to post. But you're not here to read my life story, and truthfully I'm not brave enough to share it (sorry Alexis and Joseph). All you need to know is that it's been a rough few months for me lately, which is how I found myself loading my dog and my crashpad into my car and taking the familiar twists and turns of the 330 towards Big Bear.  As I drove, I could feel my spirit rising with the elevation.

Fresh pine, mountain air, a roll of film and the warm embrace of old friends is the best remedy for any existential crisis that I know of. Recently my life has been full of constant reminders that whether good or bad, nothing in this life is ever permanent.

Here are a few moments I particularly enjoyed from last weekend. Some are captured digitally and some are captured on 10+ year old 35mm film.

Reflections on the Salton Sea

Photo Collaboration with Alexis Tia Diller • www.alexistia.com

Photo Collaboration with Alexis Tia Diller • www.alexistia.com

It was a comfortable 95 degrees as I stepped out of the car and took in the barren landscape of Bombay Beach. It took us almost 3 hours to get there and all of 2 minutes to circle the perimeter of the dilapidated town. The array of clutter in the front yards of the houses we passed alluded to the lives of the occupants who called this town home, but there was not a soul in sight. I'm not sure what I expected exactly, but this wasn't it. I was out of my element. 

As an art student in college I have seen enough photographs of the Salton Sea from peers and professionals alike to create a false sense of familiarity with that foreign place. Inspired by the work of Richard Misrach, my photography friends, and my own large ego, I hadn't done any planning or preparation besides plugging Bombay Beach into Google Maps once Alexis and I were already in the car. I was putting all my trust into the artistic process of 'winging it.' I believed that I would know exactly what I wanted to shoot the moment I saw it.. which is how I instead found myself crouching over decaying fish carcasses completely burning through my first roll of film. 

I didn't know what to point my camera at that hadn't already been photographed a million times before.  Previously enchanted by the notion that I would shoot the Salton Sea in a new and unique way that would blow people away, I was forced to accept that I didn't do my homework and prepare adequately enough to create any photos of real significance. As a portrait photographer I usually rely on meeting and conversing with new people to give context and direction to how I shoot that particular place. I try to let their narratives influence how the landscape unfolds on film. With the exception of the kind old local who gave us directions before disappearing, Alexis and I were just two of several photographers roaming around the muddy shoreline with cameras to our eyes, not talking to one another. 

Where were all the people, the half submerged cars and furniture, or the eroding humanity I was promised? I was ankle deep in mud and fish guts, one roll of film filled with shots of garbage (literally), and at a loss for how to make something out of all this nothing. 

The only time I really felt like I knew what I was doing was when Alexis and I collaborated on a series of portraits along the shoreline. I was reassured that at least some of the photos hidden on my film would come out alright. The rest I would have to wait and see. 

I'm glad I went and grateful that Alexis came with (and drove) me, but more then anything I want to venture back out there and do the damn thing properly. 



Included at the end are a few photos from a different salty sea to help finish my last roll of film.