The past half year has been a journey full of struggles, decisions, loss, gratitude, wealth, debt, and questions. All of this has been weighing on me mentally and physically. The life of a photographer is not at all glamorous but it is what I love to do and chosen for as my path. A few weeks ago I asked Shaandiin where she would want to go to get out of town and just drive. I needed the time off to clear my mind and decompress, and she wanted to check out a graduate school out in California. We found a weekend that worked out for our schedules and packed our bags. I didn't want to be encumbered with the dreariness of work and emails so I chose to keep my phone off the entire trip and only take my two favorite film cameras. My Leica M2 and the trusty Hasselblad 500c. Shaandiin borrowed my X100s so she could document through her eyes. I packed some film, some chips, water, fruit snacks, dropped Kodak the Cattlepuppy at Shaandiin's mom's home and we set off.
I wanted to shoot freely but also enjoy myself so I didn't shoot as much as I thought I would but I found a lot of great shots came out of this practice. So much more went on than these photos or words can tell but I hope this offers a visual peek into our journey.
We pick up in Kingman, AZ...
The film I chose to shoot this trip was a combo of Kodak Gold 200 and 800 asa, some BW400N and some 120 rolls of Pro400h and Portra 160. Which would give me a good range to play with in exposing. A film for the bright light and a asa for more darks. Kodak Gold is a consumer film stock so it is slightly less expensive than Portra. The characteristics of Gold that I love is the grain and the way it handles blues and yellows.
I am very fortunate to have such a cooperative and absolutely gorgeous girlfriend who is always (well most of the time) willing to model for me. Her beauty is captured nicely here on medium format Hasselblad. A camera I love almost as much as I love this woman.
We stopped off the side of the road near Bakersfield next to a grove of almond trees. Fuji Pro400h captures greens in such a lovely way that I just had to set Shaandiin between the rows of trees.
We then stopped again in the harsh sun upon coming up on the mountain ranges before the ocean. We both modeled my lucky hat and the Leica.
From here we snaked our way through some winding roads that made me wish I had brought my skateboard and that we had recently changed the brakes on "the blue chariot" as Shaandiin likes to call it. After what seemed like a million pee stops and breaks we made it to the coast. One of my favorites feelings of all time is coming over that last hill and seeing the ocean. The expanse of liquid that all waters lead to. Its a feeling that makes me whole.
I didn't take too many shots here as I wanted to enjoy myself and just relax but as you can guess the quality of light is amazing on the Pacific. I love New Mexico sunsets because each and every one is unique and bold. But dusk on the Pacific has a mood of familiarity to me that is comforting and calming unlike no other.
We had a great time camping out of the back of my car in Refugio Beach. We made a trip into Santa Barbara for a must have eat from anyone from New Mexico. Oh those delectable cheeseburgers. :)
Living the laid back beach life for a brief moment was great for the soul and weary feet.
After a cramped sleep with the Amtrak waking us in the middle of the night we headed more south towards Santa Monica. Into the fast paced world of La La Land. The traffic was not as bad as expected and the sea breeze kept us cooled. We walked the boardwalk, took a ferris wheel ride, and grubbed on one of the best sandwiches of my life. Or maybe I was just hungry.
We then got tossed and tumbled in the ocean. Saltwater filled our noses and pours until we acknowledged the strength of the sea. Body surfing is one of the most exhilarating experiences one can engage in.
A quick nap in the sun to get our tan on and then off to El Segundo where we would be staying the night, courtesy of Shaandiin's father's Hyatt rewards. Dropped the bags off and away we went to Hollywood to see the crowds and craziness of it all. Shot two rolls of Gold here. One 200 and one 800. Continued to add to an ongoing project simply entitled "Pay Phones." Look for more from this series and also an explanation on why I find this simple object intriguing as to document it.
Anyway, Hollywood is a top notch place to people watch and overhear strange conversations.
From there we spent the night in El Segundo (where I may have left my wallet.) We awoke the next morning on a mission to visit UCLA campus where Shaandiin hopes to attend graduate school with an interested in directing. What a facility that school has for making movies!
We stopped earlier on in the day at Richard Photo Lab. A lab i plan on using for the majority of my color work for clients and personal projects in medium format film. We were lucky to get a tour and see the operation that they have out which is quite there is impressive. They receive close to a thousand rolls of film a day which inspires to really believe #filmisnotdead. I am happy to be sending more of my film to them. They are very friendly group of people who are doing quality work in developing, scanning and printing.
From there we made our way out the city of Angels with a quick drive along Mulloland Drive to look over the town that inspires and breaks people everyday.
We hit the road back to Albuquerque the next day and it was good to know we were coming home. We would get to see our puppy (who had absolutely terrorized Shaandiin's mom's house.) Shaandiin could focus on finishing her undergraduate and I could put my mind and efforts back into my work. I'm proud to be from Albuquerque. Its in a rough spot right now, and I'm one of the first to criticize it. But there is a lot of good being done here as well, with some true and hard woking people among us. I recognize these people and you should know who you are. As for the others, keep working drown out the static, work to better yourself and don't worry about those you are threatened by but ask why you are threatened by them in the first place.
As for this trip, it was good to clear my mind and toss the past behind me. As always I will keep my eyes on the horizon.
Excited for the coming months and creation that will come out of it. I've made the decision from business stand point to exclusively shoot portraits on film and to pursue the dream of becoming a music portrait photographer. I'm forever grateful for all the people who I have worked with they have become great friends.
So now that I'm back, I'm hitting the pavement running and putting my all into my craft.
Thanks for enjoying the photos and I hope they offered a look into our journey. But thank you especially to the person who is my rock and guiding light in this life. The girl I spent this journey on and continue to walk with, Shaandiin. (You take awesome photos too :)
For more photos from the trip follow my instagram @jesselittlebird.
Until next post,