(1/2) Seasons change, like careers, like homes, like relationships. But what drives change? Do we accept it as an unstoppable force in an entropic universe? Is it self-governed, driven by relationships or a product of societal pressures? Do we enact it or are we the unprovoked recipients? . I’ve been pondering the impetus of change for months; years, in fact. But the questions didn’t take comprehensive form till a few months back, following an exchange of words I had put off for years. . To summarize, someone I had a lot of love for told me that they barely recognized me; I wasn’t the same person they knew. It wasn’t said negatively nor positively; it simply was. . Whenever I return to Vermont, high school friends tell me I’ve changed. That’s natural—college has that effect on most people. The same thing has happened with college friends I saw for the first time in a couple years: again, change wasn’t unexpected—the road, and adult life, has that effect on most people. In fact, even in that conversation a few months back, I knew I had changed, that wasn’t up for debate; what I questioned was the quality of that change—was I a better man? And if so, what was my driving motivation? It’s easy to tell yourself to “be better.” But from where does our concept of a better life arise? . We change for the ones we love and the things we love, this much has been clear to me for some time. However, in light of that conversation several months back, I’ve come to feel that, often, we change for a vision of what we *believe* they want—not necessarily their desires—and therefore we change as a product of a reflection of our shifting values, imposed, for better or for worse, upon the things we love. . We often say the leaves change because the cold arrives, or a storm rolls through, but I believe that’s simply because it’s the cause most perceptible to us—change, in our minds, is abrupt, associated with strong forces and feelings. One may find that waning sunlight has just as much of an effect on the trees; but it’s a small change, nearly imperceptible day-to-day, that builds over time beyond our limited vision. . (Continued in comments...)
Sometimes you just wake up with a bag of wine outside your tent and need a moment to think about the previous night (1)... and then you look up and see the sunrise and you’re ready to do it all over again (2). . These images (and a whole lot more) are from a rad Labor Day Weekend trip to the Hoover Wilderness—a trip made possible by #publiclands. These places where we are free to camp, hike, fish, climb, ski, drink bagged wine and beer, and recreate in dozens of other ways are as important to our society as the metropolitan infrastructure we seek to escape. Let’s respect and support them as such.
Flying back to the homeland for a few weeks at the end of the month. Looking forward to seeing my family for the first time in a year, running a race with my Dad, picking apples, photographing the foliage, playing with my dog, sweater weather, cider, good craft beer, greasy diner food, real maple syrup—I could go on forever. But maybe most of all, I’m looking forward to Vermont’s quirkiness and wry sense of humor—like this sign—and the deep sense of community that I was born and raised into. Stoked to keep Vermont weird.
I don’t find myself shooting as many landscapes as I used to. I’m not any less enamored by the natural world; rather, in my pursuit to tell impactful stories, I simply find the human element impossible to be ignored. We’ve shaped the world we live in today and our choices will continue to shape it for centuries to come. But while I enjoy sitting back and taking it all in, sitting back isn’t what the world needs. Be proactive about your choices: reduce consumption, VOTE (yes, America, that thing you fail to do every four years—well you’ve actually been failing every two years; midterms are just as important), back up words with actions. To those that don’t believe we need wild places, or feel it doesn’t apply to them, I frequently like to quote Edward Abbey: “We need wilderness whether or not we ever set foot in it. We need a refuge even though we may never need to set foot in it. We need the possibility of escape as surely as we need hope.”
Bill, spraying beta... or maybe explaining the metamorphosis of a caterpillar into a butterfly—I don’t really know, swipe through for yourself, don’t think it mattered. We were just out here having a good time in the high country, back beyond the backcountry—the wayyy back country, if you will. This place isn’t easy to get to, the best places usually aren’t, but once you got over the mosquitoes, deadfall and side-hilling, it was paradise.
Could go for some of this right about now... It’s hot. My knee still hasn’t recovered from a race I did a month ago. The desert isn’t inspiring me. Floating through Kootenay cold smoke would be the perfect solution. On the real though, trying to be less mopey about my knee and the heat. C’est la vie. Taking time to read more, catch up on some journaling, stretch and practice yoga each morning, and overhaul parts of my aging website. Reminding myself that mindfulness is as important as physical activity, even if I don’t always feel that away. Luckily skiing waist deep powder is the best of both worlds—only a few more months till then.
Looking Forward, Looking Back: I often try to expound and extrapolate upon my reading with personal anecdotes, but today I felt it better to leave these two quotes as they are—they sum up a lot of my recent thinking: . “They saw the future as something that came upon them from behind their backs with the past receding away before their eyes... That’s a more accurate metaphor. Who really can face the future? All you can do is project from the past, even when the past shows that such projections are often wrong. And who really can forget the past?” - Pirsig . “We are living in a culture entirely hypnotized by the illusion of time, in which the so-called present moment is felt as nothing but an infinitesimal hairline between an all-powerfully causative past and an absorbingly important future. We have no present. Our consciousness is almost completely preoccupied with memory and expectation... Since what we know of the future is made up of purely abstract and logical elements — inferences, guesses, deductions — it cannot be eaten, felt, smelled, seen, heard, or otherwise enjoyed.... This is why all the affairs of civilization are rushed, why hardly anyone enjoys what he has, and is forever seeking more and more. Happiness, then, will consist, not of solid and substantial realities, but of such abstract and superficial things as promises, hopes, and assurances.” - Watts
Yesterday I was thinking about how staying put can make me feel grounded and more present each day. But as I puzzled through this, I realized that traveling—not going place to place, but rather the actual movement itself; driving, for example—is, in a way I can only describe as ironic, a time at which I’m most present. . Travel is usually associated with the destination or the return, but it’s the literal act of travel, the hours of dirt and pavement beneath the tires, that grounds me (...despite the contradictory way that already sounds). You see, I’m generally not in a rush to arrive somewhere—not in rush to arrive anywhere. Sometimes my destination isn’t even clear. I’m simply moving, absorbing the sights, smells and feelings around me—the crisp coolness over a mountain pass, the way my old Ford bounces along uneven gravel roads, the imminent tan forming on my window-side arm. . I believe the problems arise from the series of brief visits, hopping one place to another for only days at a time. That limit reinforces thoughts about the next destination—consider a road trip you’ve been on where the driver / leader is on a clock-like schedule of things to see from Point A to Point B. It’s a cycle that chases the future but never gets any closer. . So what are our options? Of perpetual travel and perpetual permanence, neither seems particularly feasible—so where do we find a middle ground? We enjoy traveling, but how do we do it in a present way? I think it’s somewhere in purposeful movement. Taking the time to understand somewhere new, and taking the time to understand our home. We’re always concerned with moving faster and further; it’s about time we slow down.
Odds and ends of the Eastern Sierra... Been here a lot—too much it feels, sometimes, in actuality maybe not enough. Maybe a conscious effort to stay somewhere would flip the balance from stagnant to solid, a home base rather than a hideaway. When I commit to staying somewhere, I’m present—every day is appreciated for what it is rather than *could* be. I’m not concerned with what’s next, merely what is, now.
Bits and pieces from BC. Warm evening light and the smell of fresh stew, battle scars from the mosquito-ridden backcountry (Jake, you’re an animal), surprise portraits and blistered feet. A couple weeks of real, down to earth livin’ done right. But maybe next time we oughta bring more girls—sorry, Arie.
I try to write every day. Location, time, mood—none of it matters... Well actually ALL of it matters. A lot. It matters in that it affects the substance, but it shouldn’t affect your will or ability to write. Happy, sad, cold, hot, tired, excited—let the words flow. Sometimes they don’t, that’s okay; it’s the motion that counts. The ability to articulate thoughts and feelings, the catharsis of freeing it from your mind, the clarity that comes from seeing it from an outside perspective. Most of my writing never makes it on this medium. Plenty of it will never be seen by another pair of eyes. No matter. Take five minutes, fifteen, fifty. Just write.
I only took one photo during my time in Santa Cruz: Sam putting the finishing touches on one of the best breakfast burritos I’ve ever had—a grainy snap on my old school iPhone SE. The past four days were perfect: surfing (like a kook), eating homegrown produce, seeing old friends, making new ones, listening to locals discuss zen in an incredibly hipster coffee shop, and eating a whole bunch of tacos. The only thing I didn’t do was take my camera out. You see, documenting life is fun; but nothing compares to just living it. The best cameras are sometimes the ones you leave in your bag.
Alright Instagram, you thirsty soul-sucking app, back to regularly scheduled programming... . Sick camp spot! Yeah yeah, it was rad, but let’s talk about this app, shall we? I like to look at it as a microcosm of our society: People like to see what they have been told to like, what they’re familiar with; we’ve lost our individuality to groupthink conditioning—there’s no other explanation for the overwhelming infatuation with felt hats, fairy lights, tribal blankets, cliché coffee mugs; the exact same composition at the exact same location with the exact same edit you’ve seen a thousand times over; you’ll still smash that like button. . We long for familiarity over quality. It stands out when my friends capture something “out of the ordinary”—documenting decay in the West, rather than the beautiful girl on a mountain top; a fashion photographer who captures the essence of a landscape sans model; studio photography from the landscape artist, food imagery from the wildlife photographer. The photographic quality is still there, but we turn up our noses because this isn’t what we expected—it’s not why we follow them. . By these standards, we’re not promoting creative freedom; we’re condemning it. Creativity comes from pushing personal boundaries, pushing societal limitations, challenging the status quo. . I’m saying this as someone who has never made dime off a post here—at the end of the day, this app is rather inconsequential. I make a living telling stories, not optimizing engagement & perpetuating consumerism. Instagram is a networking tool—the same way attending tradeshows, conferences, TALKING (yes, in person) with strangers is. . “But you still posted a photo of a beautiful sunrise over camp.” Yes. Of course I did. Because these scenes inspire me. And I’m going to stay true to myself. But the subject doesn’t define me; my feeling of stoke and inspiration does. I hope to one day find a pain au chocolat and latte so incredible that I feel compelled to share it here. If the inspiration was there, I wouldn’t find it beneath me. Hell, I’d be stoked. But for now I’ll eat sweet potatoes and mostly take photos of the outdoors. Because that’s what I’m stoked on now.
I can still remember the exact moment I first heard @ziggyalberts: in an obscure part of British Columbia, somewhere between there and nowhere, on the road with a plan that said, “Go north.” Nothing more. . I’ve always felt a strong emotional attachment to music—playing my own, listening to others, in the car, while running, live performances; every medium accompanies a different environment, but the emotions are the same—nostalgia, happiness, heartache, excitement. A single song can possess the ability to run the gamut of an emotional rollercoaster. . The experiences described in Ziggy’s songwriting really spoke to me. It resonated with the road. The highs and the lows. The environment. Our relationship with the earth. . Concert photography is a little out of character for me, but this whole photographic journey has been driven by pursuing passion—the places, people and ideas that fuel that fire. In the smallest, most intimate venue I’ve ever attended a show (you’ll notice we’re all sitting on the floor for this song), that community and passion for life was as strong as ever. Thanks for an amazing show Ziggy, @harrisonstormmusic, @samueldhall, @_davidbutler and @allaraa.
Stoke: one of those intangible yet infectious feelings, exponentially increasing, feeding off environment and entourage. Sure, that’s a sliver of heinously sun-cupped, shark infested, icy crust—“Quite possibly the WORST snow I’ve ever ridden,” courtesy of @bbbroer—but when Sendtember calls, there’s only one way to answer. 🤘
Beautiful locations. Beautiful people. Beer. (...and Bagged wine.) . It’s amazing how quickly these things can turn a bunch of strangers into a crew of friends. An epic long weekend in the Eastern Sierra reminded me why I love taking a camera with me even when it’s not “for a job.” I know I’ve been repeating the “people > places” cliché for months now, but here you have it, folks. I’ll be posting scenes of our shenanigans and bullshit from this trip for quite some time, but I want to start with a look at some of the old and new amigos who made this trip such a rad experience. So here’s my kind of portrait series: photos that don’t always make you look “good”; rather, images that show who you are. And I think y’all are pretty rad.
Life on the edge in Northern BC from a couple months back... Summer flew by, from the Eastern Sierra to British Columbia, the mountain west back to BC and then back to the Eastern Sierra all over again; a migratory-like nature, though it’s tough to outline precisely what I’m pursuing—a feeling, perhaps, something unmistakably present yet intangible.