Okay, the gear. What and why? My first piece of advice is don’t do what I do. What I’m about to do isn’t recommended, and yet I’m going to do it anyway. If you are embarking on a project just take one camera and one lens. Leave the rest at home and save yourself some trouble. Me, I’m driving my new Tacoma which has become a photo-barge of sorts. And bike barge, camping barge, etc. It’s like a bloated whale oozing it’s way down country roads. I have the space, and I’ve been on the road for several months, so I’ve got a lot of stuff with me.
As you will see I have three primary systems for this little voyage, but I’m pretty sure I’m only going to use two. The Hasselblad will remain in the bag for the entire trip. The reason? I lost my nine-stop, neutral density filter, which was the ONLY reason I brought the camera in the first place. It’s gone. I’ve looked and don’t want to buy another. So, I’m moving forward with the Fuji Instax, just for fun, and to have something tangible along the way, and my trusty Fuji XT2. This project is comprised of old, analog work and whatever NEW imagery I can make on this trip which will all be done with the XT2.
A lot of you are probably wondering where my Leica is, or why I don’t shoot film on this project. Good questions. Nothing wrong with my Leica, and I have a freezer full of film, but this methodology doesn’t work for my life at this point. I don’t have time for film. The day I get back from this trip I’ll have major projects due for BOTH of my jobs, so shipping film and waiting, getting scans done, paying for it all, etc. is a luxury I no longer have.
Also, I’m not really that concerned about the photography at this point. I’m concerned about story, so the imagery is important, yes, but it’s not the sole focus or purpose. AND THE VIEWING AUDIENCE FOR THE BOOK ISN’T A PHOTOGRAPHY AUDIENCE. The tiny audience is comprised entirely of family members. They are representative of the vast majority of people who will view your work. They don’t care what camera I used, or what my composition is. They are looking for familiarity, memory, surprise and connection. And yes, great photography enhances these things, so I’ll be on the lookout but it won’t drive me like it did in the past.
I need great copy. This is time consuming and challenging but it must be done. I just booked a hotel room for two nights, instead of camping, because I know the hotel will allow me more time to work with less time allotted for building camp, setting up tents, dealing with bugs, etc. I’m on a tight timeline.
Also, as you will see here, the final image is of an acrylic drawing. I am doing a series of these based on the eclipse, which is 1/6 of the entire project. I have little desire to photograph the actual event, nor do I have the right lens. I don’t even have glasses to view it. But I have truly enjoyed making these “paintings.” (My future will have a lot more of this type of work.)
As you can see, all of these items are secured in my Atlas packs which I’m finding to be a perfect fit for my needs. I’m actually backpacking at times so these are perfect, and they don’t look like camera bags. They are light and comfortable. I’ve also got my entire audio setup with me, and will be recording ambient sound as well as an interview or two IF I can somehow find the time. I’m not sure I can do all these things. If I pull off a few stills and some good copy I’ll be happy.
Five hundred and fifty miles tomorrow, the last fifty on dirt. Lots of scrambling, picking up family members, etc. A few days of work and then 1100 miles back to California where my real work awaits. People keep asking if I’m excited and my answer is “no.” I’m nervous. Butterflies. I don’t think this project means anything to anyone else. In fact I know it doesn’t, but it means something to me. I know what it takes to do good work, and I know this trip isn’t setup to afford that kind of time or access, so I will be nervous about making ANYTHING worthy of adding in.
Fingers crossed. Leaning forward.