The School of Life and Photography
All who wander are not lost, and all that are lost should try wandering. There are different ways for us to escape and wander off the beaten path, and in my case, my escapism has been wandering around capturing spiritual/transforming moments while on the road. I escaped my humdrum cubicle job by jumping in my car to explore the American landscape, mainly the Southwest and California from 2006-2012, but now I explore New England and the upper Midwest in search of inspiration and new life experiences. Being on the road is freedom to me, and capturing those moments with a pen and paper and camera has become my creativity.
We are the freest country in the world, yet we are given very little time to do anything that may bring joy into our lives, especially as photographers being able to shoot. So when we can find these powerful moments transcending us past our banality, we do our best to eek out and hold on to every second. This transformation exists in the mind, whether you are every day, early morning surfer or a jam session with your closest friends on the weekend, the most significant moments of creation happen when inspiration and beauty collide.
I haven’t always been a photographer, but I have been majorly affected by literature, poetry, and powerful photographs, which led me to romanticize the artists’ life as a kid. To me the artists’ life was living freely in quiet obscurity punching out a novel every couple of years to make a living. Reality is a son-of-a-bitch when your notions on how the world works is skewed, and you quickly realize your perspective is obscured idealism, not reality — at least for most of us…
Life is loss. Life’s loss takes many different forms: loss of loved ones, love from a significant other, lost jobs, lost security, etc. Now at my age I don’t resent the fact that I never became the next Cormac McCarthy or David Foster Wallace. In fact, I enjoy and love life more now because of its unpredictability and often beautiful coincidences. I bask in my own obscurity and feel free in my adventures on the road. I can drive for 15 hours without getting bored or tired knowing that the journey is the real destination.
Good, bad, amazing things can happen that you’re never quite ready for. It’s almost like the floor can and will collapse below you at any time, and there isn’t a goddamn thing you can do about it. You can let life get you down, or you can truly live as you are, not who you thought you’d be. Life is too short to live as a disappointment to yourself, or anyone for that matter. Things as you age become less about conquering insurmountable dreams and goals, but rather the fiber of your being is a compendium of things you have failed, and some you succeeded at.
We may be slaves to our 9 to 5, but we can choose to be free, or we can be held back by the world we’ve created for ourselves to dwell in. My world is shaped by finding beauty in the commonplace and interacting with larger than life people. My professional background looks like a smorgasbord of job jumping, but being laid off twice from photography magazine jobs and trying to make ends meet working 17 hour days on movie and TV sets, were just par for the course when the recession hit the media hard.
I did what I had to do to survive, and my life isn’t so different now. We’re all just trying to survive and find who we are and what we love. Photography and writing became a photojournalism to me. I could use my photographs to help reinforce the story I was trying to tell. Now when I’m taking a photo, I’m sharing my experience and my joy with a new audience.
Finally On The Road
When I take a photo I am capturing what my eye and aesthetic is. I am capturing a moment to remember my halcyon road trips with my friends, or when I was alone, that I truly felt purposely lost in the modern world. I sat on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon and watched the Sun set over this rolling expanse of the orange super crater leading into the infinite decline. It reminds me of that following night at my campsite where I saw stars for the first time in years (I lived in LA where light pollution makes it impossible). I mean really saw them. They looked like I could almost have touch them they were so close.
I also reflect fondly of the time I jumped in my car and drove north to San Francisco from L.A. I passed over the Golden Gate Bridge, wandered around the city for a bit, and eventually went north to Napa Valley to see the vineyards and drink wine. On my way back I decided to see Big Sur, a place that has become more significant in my life than any other place. Ansel Adams had Yosemite, and Big Sur is my venerated destination.
There I was in Big Sur where Jack Kerouac went to dry out, whose experience later became the novel Big Sur. I had gotten the itch to explore because On The Road made me glamorize the West coast as a high school kid. I was standing there standing in the footsteps of my literary hero.
“And in the flush of the first few days of joy I confidently tell myself (not expecting what I’ll do in three weeks only) ‘no more dissipation, it’s time for me to quietly watch the world and even enjoy it, first in woods like these, then just calmly walk and talk among people of the world, no booze, no drugs, no binges, no bouts with beatniks and drunks and junkies and everybody, no more I ask myself the question O why is God torturing me, that’s it, be a loner, travel, talk to waiters, walk around, no more self-imposed agony…it’s time to think and watch and keep concentrated on the fact that after all this whole surface of the world as we know it now will be covered with the silt of a billion years in time…Yay, for this, more aloneness”
― Jack Kerouac, Big Sur
Big Sur was filled with wildlife and picture-taking tourists like me. When I looked over the Bixby Bridge and saw that great expanse of land jaunting out like a peninsula into the sea, I felt like I had been transported back in time to the 50s. This was the place I didn’t want to move from. The vista was perfect. I had left my DSLR at home by accident and was carrying only my iPhone, and these were some of the images I captured near the bridge.
This is what the On The Road features are about; transformative experiences through photography that can be anything from evolution of self, to dangerous assignments in the field. I plan on keeping it more as a narrative story with images, but I wanted to express my purpose for including this into Precise Moment.
I started Precise Moment magazine as a passion project which I hope will allow me to live in the world of photography and writing, and help start a discussion on the absolute power that photography has had to change the world, both classically and in our modern times, and also the power to transform yourself.
If you have an experience you are dying to write, or you have suggestions of where I should visit, I wold love to hear about it in the comments, or email at email@example.com.
“The empty blue sky of space says ‘All this comes back to me, then goes again, and comes back again, then goes again, and I don’t care, it still belongs to me”
― Jack Kerouac, Big Sur
Len Marriott says
I’m not sure how I found your site but I now have it bookmarked. I enjoyed your blog on Big Sur & especially the photos. Now I know why Ken Rockwell is such a big fan of the iPhone camera, obviously more than just OK in a pinch. The photo quality is excellent, at least at web sizes. We’ve all seen many photos over the years taken from this spot but few have the same impact as yours. The soft light from the overcast sky was a big factor. Or, it could be my new acquisition of a 24″ monitor. 🙂 I’ll likely never actually get there myself so your photos will have to suffice. Thanks for your efforts.
Best, Len Marriott
Thanks Len! The iPhone isn’t too bad is it? It is great in a pinch you’re right. Now when I leave home and I forget my camera, I still have one that is good enough. I’m glad you enjoyed my blog and my images.