Photography is hard. When you’re trying to get better on your own time and your own dime, sometimes you just have to make a big old expensive and intentional mistake to “level up,” as the kids say. The following is how I learned a little about photography, but more so that one’s own time, money and failure are often the best education.
After perusing various photography and travel history books from greenlight’s very impressive semi-public library, I decided to shoot a “road trip photography” project, with full knowledge I wouldn’t come back with a gallery show, but not knowing why yet. On the route from Texas to Colorado for my annual mountain camping trip, I planned to capture dilapidated, outdated service buildings, diners and gas stations from the endless peripheral scroll of the highway, shot on instant film to show the contrast between analog and digital spaces via analog means. Simple enough! Well. It turns out you don’t just tack on a photo assignment to a well-planned road trip with a set arrival time. You must account for time to stop, frame and scout angles, constantly making micro-evaluations passing cluster after cluster of roadside shacks and signage at 75 mph. After a few of these stops, I realized that not only was this a project worthy of its own road trip, but after burning a few packs of discontinued Fuji instant film I was hitting my limited supply.
While I got a few cool prints, the experience of doing something like this blind was the real value. I learned that calculating cost, time and appreciation for a variety of subjects are processes with inherently measurable consequences, and are things I can account for in the future. Sure, I could’ve Googled “how to take a photography road trip,” but A) that’s no fun, and B) I like to learn things in ways that stick with me. Time and money happen to be some of the most effective teachers in life.
-Aaron White, Sr. Production Artist