El Camino Real (2012--2015)
El Camino Real
This series is a set of images taken on a road trip I have done several times from my home in Boulder, CO to Palm Springs, CA. The name comes from both the iconic half-car / half-truck the El Camino and from the El Camino Real which was a trail connecting Spanish Missions in California. These roads and trails are also known as "The King's Highway" in english.
The road trip as photography series is not a new thing and many well-known photographers such as Stephen Shore, Lee Friedlander, Edward Weston and Walker Evans partook of similar journeys. For my own purposes the trip serves as both a winter escape to warmer climates but also an opportunity to be alone in the expanses of the West. Generally, I don't interact with other people on these trips - it is a solitary journey. I truly love the experience of barreling down a desolate highway at sunset as the last burns of light fade onto unimaginably beautiful landscapes. It's not always pleasant to be alone hours on end in a metal encasement with one's thoughts, and concurrently I am aware of the car's negative impact on the very land I am enjoying from the driver's seat. For this and other internal reasons, It feels indulgent and bittersweet which seems like the perfect sentiment for the American West.
Yet for me it has been a necesssary exploration, if only for the photos I make along the way. They are evidence of my self-imposed loneliness, of my amazement at how much seemingly empty space still exists in our country, of how little we really know about anything in our immediate space no matter where we are. When I am driving through Colorado, Utah, Arizona, Nevada, California I feel like the arm of the turntable floating above a spinning record that waits for the fall of the needle into the groove. The needle is confinement and it floats above a path that I know will end. I don't want it to end and I want to be nothing -- as air, as space, as unimpeded movement. But I must arrive somewhere, and then I must turn around and go home to my responsibilties as a father, a teacher, and member of a community in the place I live.