El Camino Real
El Camino Real (2012--)
This is a selection of images from an ongoing project. The photos are made on a winter 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 historical 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 expanse 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 scenes. 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 often indulgent and bittersweet -- the perfect sentiment for the what we conceive of as the American West.
Yet for me this is a necessary exploration, if only for the photographs 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 much of a stranger we are in this land we call “ours.” When I am driving through Colorado, Utah, Arizona, Nevada, and California I feel like the turntable needle locked into a dusty groove. I know the song with end, the arm will rise and set back into place at inertia. I don't want it to end, and I want to be a puff of smoke -- as air, as space, as unimpeded movement. But I must arrive somewhere, and then I must turn around and go home to my responsibilities as a human being.