Like other street photographers, so much of my inspiration comes from the work of the greats - Garry Winograd, Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange, Robert Frank, Inga Morath, Stephan Shore, and others - who explored America from the road. To leaf through "The Americans," by Frank, "American Photographs," by Evans, or "Twentysix Gasoline Stations," by Ed Ruscha, is to accept an invitation to hit the highway, which is what I will do within a week or so.
The plan is to follow US 40 from here in the Bay Area through Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, and then cut through Memphis and find another route back West for the return trip.
America is in a constant state of transition. That was certainly true in each of the decades in which the photographers above captured American life through their lenses. The American experience is nothing if not in perpetual motion, it always moves, whether predictably or unpredictably. The road, the car, the quest are more than metaphors for our public and private life. The images and the reality seem entwined, embedded in our politics, our culture, our souls.
With all the craziness in our country today, I can't think of a better time to hit the road and get a different perspective on what the heck is going on here. And, for me - to see, hear and photograph parts of our country that I've never witnessed.
"The Americans" was published when I was five. In the 1950's the world's biggest public works project to date was launched to build 41,000 miles of new roads. The more I reflect on and read about the '50s and '60s of my youth, the more I realize how the car and the camera influenced my life. The automobile provided freedom, adventure, thrills. Photographic images from Life, Look, and the news** threw me out of my middle-class neighborhood into the jungles of Viet Nam and the inner cities of Oakland, Chicago, Detroit. (**My generation recalls the impact of the images from TV news and daily newspapers on our lives before the advent of the Internet, Instagram, etc.,).
The road calls, the aperture responds. More to come.